"The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, said the Lord of hosts; and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts." An account of the Consecration of the Cathedral Church of Ss Peter and Paul, Dogura, Papua, on Sunday, October 29, 1939. Written by The Bishop of New Guinea
The Right Reverend Philip Nigel Warrington Strong
From the Australian Church Quarterly, volume 5, number 1, March 30, 1940.
This is an attempt to give you some account of all the events in connection with the Consecration of the Cathedral at Dogura on October 29th, and of the visitation of the Metropolitan of the Province of Queensland to the Diocese of New Guinea, as they appeared to me. I am well aware that some accounts have already appeared in print. It may be that this one will give some details not hitherto recorded, and perhaps also throw some sidelights on what this unique and wonderful event has meant to the Church in Papua.
I must begin by telling you something of the events which led up to it in the preceding days. It had been a tremendously intricate business making all the arrangements for the visit of the Archbishop, the Consecration of the Cathedral, and the transporting of the staff and Papuan Christians from all our different mission districts.
Everything was well in order when war broke out, and then there followed the weeks of uncertainty whether we should be able to carry through the Consecration at all, or whether, if able to do so, we should have to curtail some of the arrangements. Eventually we decided that we must go on, as things were so advanced. There remained, of course, the uncertainty as to whether the Archbishop would be able to come.
About the 13th September we heard over the air in the Brisbane news that both Archbishop and Mrs. Wand were intending to leave for Dogura on the date originally fixed. It was a great thrill hearing this, as we had received no mails since war broke out, and our only information about the movements of ships was by way of rumours, and altogether it was a very trying time. A few days later, however, we heard in Samarai that the boat by which they were to travel had been taken off, and that no other boat was being put in its place. That was rather shattering to our plans, particularly as the programme had by that time been sent up the coast to all the mission stations, and there would be no other mail going up before the Archbishop himself was due to arrive at the different stations on his visitation. The effect of this news, if true, meant that his visitation of the stations would be impossible, although he might still be able to arrive here in time for the Consecration of the Cathedral. Our hopes were again revived a few days later, when the news was repeated over the air, once more from Brisbane, but only finally to be shattered shortly afterwards by the receipt of a radio saying that he would not be able to arrive until 24th October.
That, of course, was a great disappointment, but there was nothing to do but to accept the position and reorganise the plans for the bringing down of the staff and Papuan Christians to Dogura so that they would all be there before he arrived, and by means of radio messages I was able to get information up to the stations about the altered arrangements. Obviously now the only thing to do was to concentrate all our attention upon the events at Dogura.
About the same time there came a radio from the Bishop of Melanesia, saying that, on account of the war, and the importance of conserving fuel oil, the "Southern Cross" would not now be able to come. We had hoped to have the "Southern Cross," with the Bishop of Melanesia, some of his clergy and Melanesian brothers on board. The linking together of two of the Dioceses working in the Pacific in this way, would have been a significant event, particularly as in the early days of the work of the Mission in this land the white missionaries were joined by South Sea Island teachers who had originally been recruited for labour from the Melanesia area on the sugar plantations in Queensland, where they had learnt the Christian faith. The fellowship and interchange of ideas between the clergy and brothers of the older diocese with those of our own Papuan clergy would also have been of value.
Meanwhile, the final preparations were proceeding at Dogura.
It was a remarkable sight during that time of final preparation to see crowds of people coming in from the mountain districts, as well as from the villages along the beach, bringing gifts of native food for the feeding of the people. Great quantities were brought, and given to the Mission for this purpose, and in some neighbouring districts the village people had planted special gardens to provide food for the Consecration time, and thus to save the Mission some expense in feeding the people.
Saturday, October 21st, saw the first arrivals for the Consecration from the northern stations. The "Maclaren King" was loaded to her fullest capacity. We had some anxiety when she did not arrive before sunset, as the sea was rough, but our fears were at last dispelled when we saw a dim light a long way out at sea, and knew it was the "Maclaren King" bringing her passengers safely to port, many of whom were relieved to find themselves at last on solid ground, after a somewhat gruelling time.
On Monday, 23rd, the "Maclaren King," after returning to Mukawa, came back with the second contingent, once more laden to its utmost capacity, and on the following day she brought up others from the southern stations, and another boat which we had hired for the occasion brought in a large crowd of people from some of the other northern stations. It was, of course, an expensive business hiring another boat, but it seemed an expense which was justifiable, for I was anxious to enable as many Papuan Christian as possible from the northern stations to get down to Dogura for this great occasion. The Consecration of a Cathedra is in any case a rare event, and it can only once take place in the history of a Diocese. I felt that the more people who could witness it, the greater would be the good that would be done in the different districts when they returned to their homes.
Late that night I left on the "Maclaren King" for Samarai, to meet the Archbishop. I had the satisfaction before leaving of knowing that those who were being transported by sea, both white and brown, had now arrived safely at Dogura. In the next day or two there would be many others arriving on foot from nearer districts, but I was able to feel that all was ready now for the Archbishop's arrival.
Landing stage at Wedau, with arch of welcome erected in honour of the Archbishop of Brisbane. The higher land, forming part of the plateau of Dogura where the Cathedral stands, can be seen in the middle distance. Natives crowd to the welcome, 4 p.m., October 27, 1939.
The Archbishop Arrives.
We expected that the Archbishop would be arriving on Wednesday, 25th, at Samarai, but the news that had been received was that the boat had been delayed at Port Moresby, and would not be able to reach Samarai till Thursday, 26th. When Thursday morning came, the boat had not turned up, and about midday we received the news that it was not likely to arrive until late that night.
That was very awkward, because a public reception for the Archbishop had been arranged to take place in Samarai at 4.30 p.m. that day, and it was important that he should leave in the "M.K." early the next morning for Dogura, so we had to decide whether to abandon the reception or postpone his departure for Dogura till Saturday, which would not give him sufficient time for preparation for the Consecration the next day, Sunday. We decided on the abandonment of the reception, and word was sent around to the residents to this effect. However, about 2 p.m., we heard a sudden shout of "Sail oh," and lo and behold, the boat was seen coming round the corner, and so word was rapidly sent round Samarai again, saying that after all the reception would be taking place as previously arranged. It was a tremendous thrill as the boat drew in to Samarai to see the Archbishop and Mrs. Wand on the deck waving to us, and to know that after all the anxiety and uncertainty they had arrived safely, and by God's great goodness all now could proceed. Other passengers who arrived on that boat were Canon Needham, the Chairman of the A.B .M.; Fr. Maynard, one of my Australian commissaries; and members of our staff.
At the welcome given to the Archbishop by the Samarai residents it was striking to hear the Resident Magistrate pointing out how the completion of the building of the Cathedral in comparatively so short a time since the old fighting days was a real witness to the value of missionary work, and also drawing attention to the fact that the Government and Missions are both working together for the good of the natives. It was a very happy gathering, and largely attended. The Roman Catholic priest was there, and people of different denominations, and the Archbishop in his speech said a few words on the question of Reunion, and the important position of the Church of England as a "Bridge Church" for the healing of the divisions of Christendom. A similar reception had been held at Port Moresby a few days before, presided over by the late Sir Hubert Murray, the Lieutenant Governor.
The following morning, Friday, 27th, we left early in the "Maclaren King" for Dogura. It was a beautiful day, and we were very fortunate in having a calm sea all the way. We were quite a merry throng on board, and I think everybody enjoyed the trip.
The Archbishop and Mrs. Wand and those who were travelling up for the first time were tremendously thrilled with the scenery, which is certainly most beautiful.
The plateau of Dogura, showing the old Cathedral, and in the distance the mountain range and Patsi-patsi, the highest peak. Bishop's House to the left of the Cathedral.
At Dogura, that day was being kept as a Quiet Day for the Papuan Christian delegates, up till 3.30 p.m., in preparation for the Consecration of the Cathedral, and the short Retreat was being conducted by Bishop Newton. I was sorry to have to miss this, but the late arrival of the Archbishop made it unavoidable. Just after the Quiet Day had finished, the people at Dogura sighted the "Maclaren King." Actually, we had made very good time from Samarai, and arrived rather earlier than they had been expecting us, but as we drew near to the shores of Wedau we could see that they were all ready to receive us. The Archbishop and Mrs. Wand were deeply moved by the welcome which awaited them. The wharf was kept clear of all but official people. A big arch of welcome had been erected in palm leaf, with "Egualau" (the Wedauan word for welcome) outlined in red flowers. It was a truly wonderful sight on that bright and beautiful afternoon to see the beach each side of the wharf thick with people standing in close formation right down into the sea in perfect order, quietness and reverence. It looked a vast crowd from the "Maclaren King," and it is thought there must have been nearly 2000 gathered on the foreshore. In the background were all the members of the white staff. The "Maclaren King" stood off for a short while, and I went ashore in a small boat so that I might receive the Archbishop officially as he arrived at the See Station of the Diocese. Fr. Jennings went aboard the "Maclaren King" in the launch, that he might act as the Archbishop's Chaplain.
I took up my position at the edge of the wharf, in my white cassock, holding the Pastoral Staff, with Fr. Bodger, as the priest in charge of Dogura, beside me. As the "Maclaren King" slowly drew into the wharf, the great assembly on the beach sang "Now thank we all our God." During the last verse of the hymn, Fr. Jennings stepped ashore with the Provincial Cross, followed by the Archbishop in his purple cassock.
The "Maclaren-King" arrives: the Archbishop disembarks: attendant priests and visitors kneel on the jetty for his blessing, which he gives in the Wedauan language.
When the hymn had finished, all the people knelt, some of those in the front ranks were kneeling in the sea. There was a great hush, and I led the people in the Lord's Prayer in Wedauan, and then asked the Archbishop to give us His blessing. This he did in perfect Wedauan, to the amazement of all the people, who were naturally deeply impressed. After this they stood, and gave three tremendous cheers. Mrs. Wand then stepped ashore, and a little half-caste girl presented her with a bouquet--a very sweet and touching incident. Bishop Newton then came forward to greet the Archbishop and Mrs. Wand, and they were also presented to Johnson Far, one of the few surviving South Sea Island teachers, and also to Martin Modudula, one of the oldest Christian men in Wedau, and, in fact, the first Christian to be baptised. He is one of the few whose memory today can go back clearly to another landing, 48 years ago, when the pioneers brought the Gospel of Christ to these shores for the first time, and he can tell us how, on that occasion, they were welcomed at first not with "Egualaus," but with spears, which, by some miracle of Providence, were poised but never thrown.
There were no more presentations then, but the Archbishop and Mrs. Wand were taken straight up to the station on the mountain plateau of Dogura, in the motor truck, and from there we took them to the little house which was to be theirs during their stay at Dogura. It was the house formerly occupied by Canon and Mrs. Tomlinson. It is quite close to the big mission house, where all the meals are served, and is very handy for everything. It stands on the spur of the mountain plateau, with a wonderful outlook, and it is quite close to the spot where the first church was erected by the pioneers in 1891, and to the tree which grew out of one of the four posts of that church.
After they had seen their temporary home, we took them round the station. Needless to say, they were thrilled at the beauty of the Cathedral, which surpassed anything they had anticipated. After dinner, all the staff and native clergy were presented individually to the Archbishop and Mrs. Wand. There then followed Solemn Evensong in the temporary Cathedral, at which the Archbishop presided and gave the blessing.
The Day Before the Consecration.
The next day, Saturday, 28th, was the Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude, and the third anniversary of my consecration. The chief service that morning was a Sung Eucharist at 7 am., in the native Church which had been serving temporarily as the Cathedral. The native Cathedral was thronged to its utmost capacity by a large and reverent crowd of worshippers. There were, I think, something like 800 communicants at that one service. It certainly was a most impressive service, and an inspiring thing to see Papuan Christians of all ages, representative of different tribes and districts, from right up in the north of the diocese, down to Wedau and Taupota, some of whom in the past would have been at enmity with one another, now kneeling before the Altar to unite themselves with the Lord who has brought them to realise that they are all brethren in the one family of God.
We had intended on this day to have a Thanksgiving Service at Kieta, the place on the beach where the pioneers landed in 1891, but it would have meant travelling there by boat, and the sea was not very favourable, and, in any case, the day was going to be very f with preparations for the Consecration ceremonies the next day, that we deemed it better to cancel this. Fr. Bodger had all the Papuan Christians gathered together in the afternoon and went through the Consecration service with them, explaining the significance of everything to them in the Wedauan language There were also choir practices and rehearsals.
By evening time the horizon began to be quite alive with boats making towards the harbour' of Wedau, bringing an increasing number of visitors to Dogura. The problem of accommodation at Dogura was certainly a tremendous one. Fr. Bodger and all his helpers had been working at tremendously high pitch for weeks past building temporary shelters for the vast crowd of Papuan Christians. The many European visitors who came up for Saturday night found shelter in the different buildings of Dogura, squeezing in with the staff, though some of them slept on the boats on which they had come, and most of them brought their own camp beds. Fr. Bodger and the Dogura staff coped marvellously with the difficult problems of accommodation, commissariat, and organisation of the domestic arrangements for both Europeans and Papuans. It had been no easy task to make dispositions for housing and feeding about 2000 people.
On Saturday evening we had our last Evensong in the temporary cathedral, which was once again filled with Europeans and Papuans. At that service Canon Needham gave a short address in English--the rest of the service was in Wedauan.
The Day of the Consecration.
So at last we came to Sunday, the 29th, the great day to which we had been looking forward for so long--the day of the Consecration of the new Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul, Dogura--the first Cathedral to be built and consecrated in this land, and last Cathedral of the five Dioceses of the Province of Queensland consecrated.
Rather to our dismay, the great day dawned with heavy, overcast skies and falling rain. It certainly seemed rather shattering after days and days of fine weather. The rain was not heavy, but the outlook over the mountains from whence the wind was blowing looked far from encouraging. However, the programme began, and no one seemed to take any notice of the rain, and everyone seemed quite convinced that, though the clouds were threatening, yet the rain would clear up, or at least would not hinder us in our great undertaking in God's name. On that day there were early celebrations of the Holy Communion from 5.30 onwards, in the native Cathedral, and in the different churches in the district. All these churches were filled with worshippers, who had come to make their Communions with special intention for God's blessing on the Consecration ceremonies, which were to take place later in the morning.
The Archbishop himself celebrated the Holy Eucharist in English in the temporary cathedral, at 7 a.m., and this was the last Eucharist to take place in the old building About 1500 Communions must have been made in the district early that morning.
It was not long afterwards that the "Laurabada," the Lieutenant-Governor's launch, was sighted, and Bishop Newton went down in the motor lorry to receive His Excellency on the wharf, and to bring him and the other Government representatives up to Dogura.
The Cathedral had begun to fill soon after 9 a.m., and the people were waiting in quiet anticipation. The congregation, of course, rose to their feet when the Governor, as the King's representative, was shown to his place. It was soon seen that the Cathedral would not be big enough to accommodate all the people who were gathered for the Consecration, and there were some four or five hundred who stood outside while the service was taking place.
The first Procession, consisting of representatives from all the villages of the Mission, leaves the old Cathedral and proceeds to the new for the Consecration, October 29, 1939.
The Processions, meanwhile, had been forming up in the temporary cathedral. There were three Processions in all, and just before 10 am, the first one began to wend its way along the pathway towards the west door of the new Cathedral. This Procession was led by the Cross and Thurifer, and Boat boy, and consisted almost entirely of men and boys with coloured skins. They were Servers, College students, licensed Teachers, and Evangelists of the Diocese of New Guinea. Though some of the Teachers wore surplices, the majority were vested only in the white calico which is the customary dress for Papuan servers, The completeness of this dress and its perfect blend with their brown skins must be seen to be believed.
Part of the Bishop's Procession which followed the first to the new Cathedral.
After a brief interval, the second procession followed, the personnel of which were not all of one colour, but some with white skins and some with brown. This was the Procession of the clergy of the Diocese of New Guinea. They walked in order of their seniority by ordination, so that European and Papuan clergy were in some cases walking side by side, showing their equality as ordained priests of the Catholic Church.
In the rear of the Processions came the Officials of the Diocese, the Sub-dean of the Cathedral Church, and the two Archdeacons, vested in copes--the one Canon of the Cathedral Church, Bishop Henry Newton, in cope and mitre, and in the rear of the procession, the Bishop of the Diocese, with his attendants and pastoral staff.
Another brief interval, and there followed a third and much shorter Procession, and yet, the most important of all--the Procession of the Metropolitan, as the representative of the wider Church, and the Consecrator of the Cathedral, preceded by his acting Chaplain, carrying the Provincial Cross of Queensland, and accompanied by his attendants.
This three-fold Procession, which proceeded from the old and temporary Cathedral to the new and permanent Cathedral, was a link between the old and the new, and marked, as it were, a turning point in the growth of the Papuan Church, and in the history of the Diocese of New Guinea, as it evolves from a stage which had been largely primitive and pioneering to something more permanent and more abiding. The composition of the Procession, together with the holy purpose which marked its course, set the seal upon 'the unity and continuity of the young and growing Papuan Church with the world wide Catholic Church of Christ. The end that it was to accomplish illustrated the purpose of the Universal Church to gather up all things in Christ.
On the Archbishop's arrival at the west door of the Cathedral, a Petition, couched in legal terms, was read out on behalf of the Bishop, Clergy and lay representatives of the Diocese. The Petition was then presented, in a most dignified and reverent manner, to the Archbishop, by Martin Modudula, after which I made the request to the Archbishop, "Most Reverend Father-in-God, we pray you to consecrate this Cathedral Church."
The Archbishop having consented, was then led by Fr. Bodger up the nave of the Cathedral to a special throne erected for him on the Gospel side of the Sanctuary. When he had taken his place, the great west door was shut, and the scene was set for the great, memorable and sacred act of Consecration. The people inside began then to recite the special Psalms of preparation, which were said in the Wedauan language.
Outside, I called upon those who had formed the first two processions to bear witness with me to the encompassing of the building and the claiming of it for Christ. After I had recited the Invocation and the Collect for SS. Simon and Jude's Day, in English, I led the long procession round the building, beginning with the north side. All this time the rain had been continuing off and on. It was little more than a drizzle, and, in fact, so unconscious were we of it, because our minds were filled with what was taking place, that it was almost with surprise that at one stage I noticed that my cope was wet, but I think we had not finished the encirclement of the building before the rain had ceased, and the sun had begun to shine.
I stopped the procession, which was made in silence, three times in the course of the encompassing of the outside of the building, and marked the Cross within the "Ring of the Eternal" on the north, east, and south walls of the outer fabric. The place where I signed the cross was marked immediately by the builder, who has since cut it out so that it will be there permanently. At each place where the cross of consecration was made,! said the words, "Out of Egypt have I called my son," and those taking part in the outside procession responded, "To give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace." At last we arrived back at the principal door. By that time the congregation within had finished the recitation of the preparation Psalms, Standing before the closed door, I twice repeated, in a loud voice, the words of the Divine promise, "Jesus said, 'Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me." " Then I knocked at the door three separate times with my staff, repeating the words, "Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of Glory shall come in." After the third time, a voice from within cried out, "Who is the King of Glory?" I responded from without, "The Lord of Hosts," and immediately afterwards, those who were with me in the procession repeated the words, "The Lord of Hosts," and then there arose within the walls of the Cathedral itself a great and most stirring shout from all, "The Lord of Hosts, He is the King of Glory." For those within this seemed to them a most thrilling moment--the first great outburst within the Cathedral itself. Then the doors were flung open, and on the threshold I traced with my staff the Cross, and said the words, "Behold the sign of the Cross; may all the spirits of evil be put to flight." Then, standing before the open door, I said the prayer: "Enter, O Lord, this house, we beseech Thee, and within the hearts of Thy faithful people establish for Thyself an everlasting habitation; that this Church, which is built to Thy glory, may be glorified also by Thine abiding presence; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
Peace be to this house and all that worship in it.
Peace be to those that enter and to those that go out from it.
Peace be to those that love it and that love the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
There followed the hymn, "Lift up your heads, ye gates of brass," during which the long procession entered the Cathedral, and passed by, proceeding up the nave to their respective places. I remained at the back, alone and unattended, and when the hymn was over, sand was strewn upon the threshold, and during a silent pause, I traced with my staff in the sand the Alpha and Omega, upon the form of the cross, afterwards repeating the words, 'lam the Alpha and the Omega, saith the Lord God, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty." Then, during the singing of Psalm 122, "I was glad when they said unto me; We will go into the house of the Lord," I walked through the midst of the congregation to the entrance of the Sanctuary, where those attending me joined me once again. I then bade the congregation keep silence for a space, and there followed the Veni Creator, after which the Litany was sung, with its special Consecration petitions and the Benedictus.
Then followed the Sermon, which was preached by the Archbishop of Brisbane. He began his sermon by giving a message to the Papuan Christians in the Wedauan language. It was a remarkable achievement on his part, and, as can be well imagined, made a deep impression upon the people. During the past year the Archbishop had been, in his spare time, working up Wedauan so that on the occasion of his visit as Metropolitan to the Diocese he would be able thus to address the children of God. There is no doubt about their appreciation of his message to them in their own language. He then proceeded to speak in English, and drew a contrast between the Consecration and a Dedication--how the Consecration of a church is an irrevocable act--the church is consecrated and set apart as the House of God "for ever." He also drew attention to the significance of a Cathedral as the church in which the Bishop's seat is set up how the Church of God in each Diocese finds its unity with the Holy Catholic Church throughout the world in and through its Bishop.
Interior of the Cathedral, the Consecration proceeding. The Consecration.
Then there followed the Consecration proper, when the Archbishop went to the Altar and placed thereon the Petition of Consecration, and said before the Altar the solemn Consecration prayers, during which he made the sign of the cross in the centre and upon the four corners of the Altar, anointing those signs with Holy Oil, and then censing the newly-consecrated Altar.
At this point Bishop Newton proceeded to the chapel in the south transept, to be known as the Chapel of the Resurrection, and consecrated the Altar erected there in memory of his predecessor, Gerald Sharp, the second Bishop of New Guinea.
This Altar is of freestone upon a concrete base, and in design and material is similar, though slightly smaller, to an Altar recently erected in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament in St. John's Cathedral, Brisbane. This is particularly appropriate, because Bishop Sharp afterwards became Archbishop of Brisbane.
The High Altar is of polished russet granite upon a concrete base, and has been given by a donor in Samarai as a thank-offering for the work of Bishop Newton in the Diocese. Both Altars are quite different from one another, being of different stone and different shades of colour, but both are very beautiful, and seem to fit exactly their respective places. When Bishop Newton had returned to his place, the Archbishop continued with the Consecration of the whole building, laying his hand upon the fabric and marking a cross on the south wall of the interior, and afterwards anointing with the holy oil the cross so marked. As he did so he repeated the words, "This dwelling is God's habitation; it is a possession above all price which may not be spoken against." He then led the congregation in acts of praise, to each of which the response was made,
"Alleluia! The Lord is in His Holy Temple.
Alleluia! The Lord is here to bless.
after which the Doxology was sung by the whole congregation.
The Archbishop was then seated in a chair before the Altar, and the Deed of Consecration was read out and signed with his seal. He then declared the Cathedral to be consecrated in these words, "By virtue of our sacred office in the Church of God we do now declare to be Consecrated and for ever set apart from all profane and common uses this House of God, under the dedication of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen." The Declaration of Consecration was repeated in his name and on his behalf successively by four Papuan Priests, one speaking in the Wedauan language, the second in Mukawan, the third in Ubir, and the fourth in Binandere. In this way, by the use of the four languages in which the Liturgy is celebrated in the Diocese, all the people present knew that the Cathedral was consecrated.
The Blessing of the Ornaments.
During the singing of the hymn, "Praise, my soul, the King' of Heaven," the huge Altar Crucifix, which has come from England, and is the gift of the Women's Auxiliary of the A.B.M., and has on it a bronze figure of the Glorified Christ, was lifted into its place, together with the oxidised copper candlesticks given by Mr. Ian Heath, and the other Altar ornaments, The sacred Vessels and Altar linen were also brought to the Archbishop to be blessed, and he vested the Altar. Bishop Newton meanwhile proceeded again to the Altar in the southern transept to vest that Altar. After the offering of the ornaments and the blessing of the Altar, I proceeded to the middle of the congregation, where I led them in the Family Prayer of the Church of God. Passing then to the Sanctuary and turning to the people, I said, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with man, and He will dwell with them and God Himself shall be with them and be their God,"
The Solemn Eucharist.
The Archdeacons then called for remembrance of those who had helped in the building of the Cathedral, and of those who are commemorated therein and whose souls are now at rest. I then gave a blessing as Diocesan, and there followed a blessing by the Metropolitan. The Consecration service then culminated in the Solemn Celebration of the Holy Eucharist for the first time in the newly consecrated Cathedral, at which Eucharist I was the Celebrant.
It was a wonderful moment when we realised the Sacramental Presence of our Lord for the first time in this great and beautiful building, The quietness, stillness, and atmosphere of devotion throughout was most marked, There were only a few communicants at this service, as the great majority of the congregation had communicated earlier, Those who received were those who had been specially associated with the building of the Cathedral and with the early days of the Church in this land. Amongst them were Bishop Newton, Mr. Robert Jones, the builder of the Cathedral, and his wife Rhoda Tasso, the first person to be confirmed in the Diocese, and the widow of a South Sea Island teacher, who died last January, Martin Modudula and Johnson Far, previously mentioned. The blessing at the end was given by the Archbishop, and the service was brought to a conclusion by the singing of that fine and triumphant hymn, "Thy hand, O God, has guided," the last verse of which seemed to fit the occasion so well:--
"Thy mercy will not fail us, Nor leave Thy work undone
With Thy right hand to help Us, The victory shall be won;
And then, by men and angels, Thy Name shall be adored,
And this shall be their anthem,
One Church, one Faith, one Lord."
The Consecration Rite
The Consecration service was compiled largely by us from a draft drawn up by the Archbishop of Brisbane, and also from the form of service used last year for the consecration of the Anglican Cathedral in Cairo. It was thought appropriate that the first part of the service should be taken by me--this included the perambulation of the outer part of the building, the knocking and the entrance, representing the taking possession of the Cathedral by the Diocesan, and the Consecration proper by the Metropolitan.
We also arranged to have the service partly in English and partly in Wedauan so that it might be understandable by all who were present, as it is the Cathedral for the whole Diocese, for the European as well as for the Papuan Christians. We so arranged it that the special parts relating to the Consecration were taken in English, while the familiar parts of the service, such as Psalms, Litany, and the Holy Eucharist, an of which could be followed in the Prayer Book, were in Wedauan. Some of the hymns were sung in English and some in Wadauan. In most cases the translations were side by side, and the tunes fitted both Wedauan and English versions.
It was, of course, a very long, service, lasting something like three hours, but no one seemed to mind this. There is no doubt that not only the Papuan Christians were deeply impressed, but the many Europeans who came from Samarai and elsewhere in the Diocese were deeply moved. In fact, some said that it was the most inspiring event which they had ever been privileged to witness.
Welcome to the Governor, When the service was over we led out the Governor down the centre of the Cathedral while the people stood. Then there followed an alfresco lunch in the lounge of the Mission House for the staff and European visitors. Later in the afternoon we had a reception and welcome for the Lieutenant-Governor. We had intended that this should take place in the open-air in front of the flag, but the weather looked uncertain, and so we assembled in the old temporary cathedral, the sanctuary of which had now been dismantled.
As the Governor entered, the National Anthem was sung with great fervour in all its three verses. I made a speech welcoming the Governor on this great occasion, as the Representative of His Majesty the King, and expressing our loyalty, particularly in this time of war, to our King and Empire. Since that time us Majesty has been graciously pleased to acknowledge the message of loyalty which was sent to him on this occasion. I also read out a number of messages of greetings that had been received by radio and letter from Bishops and others in Australia, and I gave some account of the gifts that had been received for the Cathedral, and of the cost of the building and the amount contributed within the Diocese itself.
The Story of the Building.
The building has taken five years, and has been erected as a thank-offering by the Papuan Christians for the blessings which have come to them through the Christian Faith. It has been built entirely by the Papuans themselves under the skilled leadership of Mr. Robert Jones. It is really an amazing achievement on Mr. Jones' part to have planned and built this great Cathedral, the largest building of any kind in Papua, and to have done it himself with the aid only of those who came as unskilled labourers. In the first place, Mr. Jones had before him a plan drawn up by Professor Sydney Wilkinson, but this conception was found to be too elaborate and ambitious, and had to be considerably modified. With this background Mr. Jones worked out in his mind the plans for the present Cathedral.
The more one looks now at the completed building, its big proportion, its two towers, its massive pillars and fine arches, the more one realises the magnificence of Mr. Jones' work, which is all the more wonderful when one considers that he himself is not an architect, nor had he any considerable experience in building work of this kind previously. He has laboured as a member of the Mission staff, and for him and for all it has been a labour of love and an act of devotion to God.
The Papuan Christians volunteered for labour from each one of the mission areas, all of which have had their part in the building of the Cathedral. Altogether 170 men have given their labour voluntarily for periods of not less than three months during the time of building. In addition to this very considerable contribution, there has been received in gifts of money and kind from the Papuan Christians in the Diocese something like £700. The cost of the Cathedral has been about £4000. The balance has been obtained from special contributions made by Europeans both within the Territory and outside, and by legacies received from England. We have also been promised a grant of £400 by the S.P.C.K. for the roof of the building, which we are hoping will still be able to be paid to us in spite of the restrictions upon the sending out of money from England. The building is 170 feet long by 50 feet wide and at the transepts, which contain the two chapels, the width is 70 feet. The height of the building is 40 feet, and measures 64 feet to the top of the towers. In addition to those who voluntarily have laboured, a great deal of work has also been done free by the Dogura School boys under Fr. Bodger. The building is of reinforced concrete, the sand and the earth mixed with the concrete being from the beach at Wedau, below Dogura.
The Cathedral may be said to be "Norman-Romanesque" in style. Its round doorways and windows link it with the first centuries of Christianity, and its Norman arches with the English Church at the beginning, of this century. The transeptal towers are a somewhat unusual feature. The only English Cathedral with transeptal towers is Exeter--the more common feature of a central tower with a spire or western towers would have presented too many difficulties in construction in Papua, and also would have been too expensive.
As it is, the twin towers fit in appropriately with the double dedication of the Cathedral to the Holy Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul--one tower being named after each saint. This has been further amplified by the unanimous vote of the staff that the towers shalt also be memorials to the two founders of the Mission, Albert Maclaren and Copland King, to be known as the "Maclaren" and "King" towers.
On the day of Consecration there were four windows in their place in the Cathedral. They were St. George in the Baptistry, in memory of the late Rev. George Downton, once on the staff of the mission; St. Paul in the Chapel of the Resurrection, in memory of Bishop Stone-Wigg, first Bishop of the Diocese; the Resurrection, a circular window in the same chapel in memory of Miss Ethel King., sister of the Rev. Copland King, pioneer priest of the Mission; the Nativity, a circular window in the opposite chapel, to be called the Lady Chapel, in memory of Mrs. Newton. Other windows and gifts would have been in their places if the war had not interfered with the shipping programme. Some of these have since been received, and have now been placed in the Cathedral. There is the window of St. Laurence, given by the children of Australia through the Heralds of the King, and a window of St. Peter in memory of Canon Samuel Tomlinson. There is a bronze sanctuary lamp in memory of Miss Nellie Hullett; and standard candlesticks made of Australian blackwood, given by St. Peter's, Eastern Hill, Melbourne, and a Tabernacle for the perpetual reservation of the Blessed Sacrament in the Chapel of the Resurrection given by the C.B.S. of Victoria, together with a safe for the keeping of holy oils. Statues of St. Peter and St. Paul, the two Patron Saints of the Cathedral, will be coming. shortly to be placed in the niches On the outer wall each side of: the west door. They are the gift of an individual donor in memory o her husband. Some of the clerestory windows of louvre glass have been given by All Souls School, Charters Towers, and one by St. Andrew's Sunday School, Bulwarra, Newcastle, and another by the Heralds of the King, St. Paul's, Burwood.
Departure of the Governor.
Other speeches at the welcome to the Governor were made by Bishop Newton, who traced the history of the building of the Cathedral, and who also pointed: out the significant fact that during the time of the building there had not been one single accident to any of those engaged in the building, a matter for which we should be profoundly thankful to Almighty God. The Archbishop emphasised that the Cathedral was the Cathedral of the whole Diocese, both for the white and brown people. Mr. Robert Jones, Fr. Bodger, and Japhet, a Papuan teacher, also spoke. Sir Hubert Murray replied to the speeches of welcome, and spoke about the great achievement of the building of the Cathedral, and congratulated the Diocese. He pointed out how this building had proved the tremendous possibilities of which the people of Papua are capable. After tea the Governor departed. As the "Laurabada," the Governors launch, left the wharf and passed by, the various ships lying at anchor dipped their flags in salute.
The End of the Day.
At 7.30 p.m. we had the first Solemn Evensong in the newly Consecrated Cathedral, The Cathedral was once again completely filled both by Papuans and Europeans, for all our white visitors from Samarai and elsewhere attended the service, which was in English.
I preached the sermon on the text from Haggai, "The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts; and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts." The whole service was a very inspiring one. The Archbishop, vested in cope and mitre, performed the various blessings. I sat in my Throne, which is erected on the south side just below the Sanctuary steps, and Bishop Newton was also vested in cope and mitre. All our licensed Teachers and Evangelists, as well as the clergy, took part in the big Procession at the end of the service, at the conclusion of which we lined up before the Altar and sang the Doxology, after which the Archbishop gave the final Blessing.
Streaming home from Church, the great work accomplished.
It was a striking thing that at both the Consecration Service and the Solemn Evensong on this Sunday night we had representatives of the different Churches working in Papua. The Chairman of the Methodist Mission, with quite a number of his staff, had come over for the occasion, and the head of the Kwato Mission, with five or six others. In addition, there was a representative from the London Missionary Society, and at least four of the Europeans who attended the service were Roman Catholics.
Before I began my sermon on the Sunday night I expressed my appreciation of the presence of our fellow-Christians from the other Missions and of their fellowship with us in prayer on this great occasion, telling them that we likewise would offer our prayers for them in their work for Christ in Papua. It was interesting to find that those present from other bodies were one and all deeply impressed, and expressed their delight at having been able to witness so stirring an event. Incidentally, the Methodist Mission have since asked if they may give something to the Cathedral--a window, perhaps, or some other gift.
A wireless expert from Samarai, who is a great friend of the Mission, hoped to be able to relay the service on the local radio system so that it could be heard by people in other parts of Papua, but, unfortunately, some vital part of the apparatus for this purpose failed on the Saturday night, but he had also undertaken to draw up press accounts of the Consecration Service and to radio them direct to Australia by means of the teleradio apparatus at Dogura. This he did, and consequently press accounts appeared in the Australian papers on Monday morning of the actual happenings at Dogura on Sunday, and these, I believe, found their way in shortened form to the English papers. After the conclusion of the Solemn Evensong the "Maclaren King left Dogura for Samarai to take back the European residents who had come up for the Consecration.
That brought us to the end of a great and historic day in the history of the New Guinea Mission, and indeed in the history of Papua--for some of the European visitors said it was the biggest thing that has happened in the history of Papua. It was a wonderful sight at the Evensong that night to see the Cathedral illuminated with the flood lighting (which is a gift from a friend in England) and filled with worshippers. The Consecration Service books were used for the hymns, and the blue covers, which we decided upon quite accidentally, toned in a most marvellous way with the brown skins of the people.
The Cathedral itself seemed now to be a living thing. Previously we had walked round it as it was being built, seen it at many different stages, admired its progress, and thought vaguely that one day it would be used for the worship of God, but even up to Saturday, the day before the consecration, it had still seemed an empty building -an outward frame without inward life, but immediately after the consecration the whole building seemed suddenly to speak. I have never before realised so vividly the reality of consecration. In some ways I had thought that we might have found it strange worshipping in this building after having become accustomed to the temporary Cathedral of native material, and I had even feared that we might miss the homeliness in the atmosphere, and feel perhaps for sometime, until the new building was warmed with devotion, a coldness, but my fears had proved to be groundless, for I have seldom felt so keenly the realisation of a Presence permeating a building. There were others also that Sunday night who felt the same, and in the time that has elapsed since then I can testify to the great inspiration it is now to worship God therein--the only consecrated building in Papua. As time advances it cannot fail to burn deeply into the souls of the Papuans--already so wonderfully imbued with a sense of awe and reverence--an ever increasing realisation of the holiness and majesty of God, and to keep before them and us the aim that must ever be uppermost in all our undertakings in this land, that He may be glorified, and His will done on earth as it is in heaven.
Tired though we were on Sunday night, we felt deeply thankful to Almighty God for all His goodness and loving kindness in bringing us to t he completion of this great act, in spite of all the uncertainty and anxiety which had preceded it.
Interior of the new Cathedral, taken the day before the Consecration, Father Bodger giving instructions to native boys.
The completion of the Cathedral standing upon the old fighting ground, where some fifty years ago the peoples of the beach fought with the peoples of the mountains and followed their fights with cannibal feasts, and where only just 48 years ago the pioneers landed to bring to the people for the first time the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is a wonderful witness to the transforming power of Christ, and the living force which is in His Church, and the consecration of this building during the time of war and distress in the world seemed to be a witness that behind the shadows God is reigning.