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The Consecration of Bishop David Hand.

[From Australian Board of Missions Review, Vol. XXXVIII, No. 9, September 1, 1950, pages 134-137.]

Transcribed by the Right Reverend Dr. Terry Brown
Retired Bishop of Malaita, 2009

[134] The Consecration of Bishop David Hand.


What a great day we had yesterday, the Festival of St. Peter. Our Cathedral is, of course, the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul, so in any case would have been a "high" day, but yesterday we also had the Consecration of a Bishop--the first time a Consecration of a Bishop has ever taken place in Papua! It was that of the Ven. Archdeacon David Hand, Archdeacon of Northern New Guinea, to be the Coadjutor-Bishop of New Guinea. Perhaps you have read about him in the papers recently, for he has just returned from furlough. I believe he is now the youngest Bishop in the Anglican Communion.

The Preparation.

It has been amazing to see the people gradually gathering here at Dogura during the past week: the staff first, with native delegates, representatives from each station where our work is carried on--many peoples and many languages bound together by one Church, one Faith, one Lord as it were. (I thought how appropriate that was during Evensong last night.) Never has Dogura, or the Church in Papua, seen so many Bishops--His Grace the Archbishop of Brisbane; the Bishop of Adelaide; the Bishop of Rockhampton; the Bishop of Grafton; the Lord Bishop of New Guinea, and now the Bishop-Coadjutor. The Rev. O. V. Abram, of St. Jude's, Randwick, Sydney, represented the Primate (His Grace the Archbishop of Sydney). Present also were Fr. John Hope, of Christ Church, St. Laurence; Frs. Hawkey and Leaver, of A.B.M., Brisbane and Melbourne respectively; the Rev. Gribble, of Claremont, Q.; Rev. Roberts, of The Slade School, Warwick, Q.; Canon W. T. Hand, Bishop David's father, from Norfolk, England, and also his elder brother, the Rev. Eustace Hand, who had also come to Papua for the occasion.

Such were the representatives of the Church, but there were many Government representatives and others also present--His Honour the Administrator of Papua and New Guinea, Colonel J. K. Murray; His Honour Justice R. T. Gore, who is the Chancellor of the Diocese; Mr. Neilsen, A.D.O., Samarai; and Mr. Rich, A.D.O., Baniara; and many others. Some had come by fairly decent-sized launches or boats and some by smaller craft, and some by air.

A great shadow was thrown over the assembly on Wednesday, the 28th, when we heard with great sorrow of the death of the Bishop of Riverina and the Dean of Newcastle.

We have new additions to the staff also--from Ireland--in the persons of Fr. Given, Mrs. Given, and their three delightful children. I don't think I have ever met Anglicans with such a delightful Irish speech! They brought me greetings from "Padre" Kirby and Mrs. Kirby and Madeleine, and it was good to see someone once again who had seen them so recently. Then when Fr. John Hope arrived he brought me greetings from Mark, as he had just been over in Adelaide.

The Consecration Service.

And now for the Consecration Service. On the eve of St. Peter's Day there was an all-night watch of prayer for the Bishop-elect. One could feel a wonderful atmosphere in the Cathedral as numbers of the white staff, joined by their Papuan brethren, kept the watch.

On St. Peter's Day there was an early Celebration in Wedauan at 5.30 a.m. At 6.30 we had Mattins in English, followed by Holy Communion in English, which was taken by our own Bishop. After this we repaired for some breakfast, and then on to the task of helping to prepare for the lunch, and at 9.40 a.m. we took our places in the [134/135] Cathedral. Eight of us had obtained permission to take part in the service in the tower on the Gospel side, so had literally a "bird's-eye view." At 9.45 a.m. the first Procession entered the Cathedral--the Cross Bearers, the Cathedral Servers, the Medical Evangelist Trainees, the Guild of St. Francis of Assisi, the Students of St. Aidan's College, and the Licensed Evangelists and Teachers.

At 9.50 a.m. His Honour the Administrator of Papua and New Guinea was met at the door of the Cathedral by the Sub-Dean-designate of the Cathedral (Rev. H. E. Palmer) and the Dean (the Lord Bishop of New Guinea), and was led to his place in the Sanctuary as the King's representative. He was dressed in white, with the gold leaves of his office round his collar, and his military insignia, sword complete. The small boys seated in the front just could not hold back their gasps, and their awe was very clearly written on their faces! It was lovely to see, really.

At 10 a.m. the Clergy of the Diocese and the Bishop's Procession arrived at the west doors of the Cathedral and processed to the Sanctuary as the congregation sang the hymn, "Disposer Supreme and Judge of the Earth." First came the Thurifer and Boat Boy, followed by Taperer, Crucifer, Taperer, the Clergy of the Diocese of New Guinea, the Preacher (the Rev. Canon W. T. Hand, M.A., Rector of Tatterford, Norfolk, England), the Coadjutor-Bishop-designate, the visiting Bishops, the Lord Bishops of Grafton, Rockhampton and Adelaide, the Worshipful the Chancellor of the Diocese of New Guinea (His Honour Mr. Justice R. T. Gore), the Rev. Peter Rautamara (Chaplain to the Bishop of New Guinea), the Lord Bishop of New Guinea, the Bishop's Examining Chaplains, the Cross of Queensland, and the Lord Archbishop of Brisbane.

The Clergy and Bishops proceeded to their places in the Sanctuary, and the Archbishops, accompanied by the Deacon and Sub-Deacon, proceeded to the High Altar. During the preparation was sung:

"O Thou Who camest from above
The fire celestial to impart,
Kindle a flame of sacred love
On the mean altar of my heart.
Jesus, confirm my heart's desire,
To work and speak and think of Thee;
Still let me guard the holy fire,
And still stir up Thy gift in me."

Looking down from the tower it was an amazing sight, and the volume and spirit of the singing an even more amazing sound! The floor of the tower was just vibrating--all unaccompanied singing, of course, but it felt as though one were standing on a wooden floor beside a huge organ. Below were the people; one could not estimate, but there were more than a thousand people there, mostly brown, from all parts of the Diocese. In the nave were the Europeans--the men in white, the women in coloured dresses. The St. Paul's School children all had royal blue aras, new for the occasions; the Doubina children in white; the native women with their new and very gay "grass" skirts; the native men with calicoes of red, white, blue, green, pink, etc. Here and there, was a native policeman, whose uniform is navy blue with red trimmings; in fact, it had to be seen to be believed. Then in the Sanctuary were the European and Native Clergy, in their white cassocks and surplices; the Native Teachers in their white calicoes; the Chancellor in his red robes, and his clerk; the Cathedral Chapter in their gold copes; and two members with tapa cloth copes--that is, native "cloth" made from the bark of trees; and, of course, the Bishops in their lovely gold copes and mitres--the palm and flower decorations, the flowers being mostly white with coral lillies.

Canon W. T. Hand was the preacher. He pointed out to his son that he had been called in the prime of his youth and manhood, that he had gifts which God wanted and could use, and it was his prayer that God would be able to use him mightily for the advancement of the Church in Papua. Then he gave him a direct message on giving his youth to the Church.

After the sermon the congregation sang "Breathe on Me, Breath of God," during which the Bishop-designate, who was attended by his brother, the Rev. Eustace Hand, and the Rev. John Rautamara (the son of the first Papuan Priest), was conducted to the Ambulatory, and returned to the Sanctuary in his rochet. He was presented to the Archbishop by the Lord Bishops of Rockhampton and New Guinea--after the oaths and declarations had been administered--and then the Litany was sung. He was then conducted to the Ambulatory again to put on the rest of the episcopal habit, and during his absence the choir sang very beautifully Walford Davies'

"God be in my head,
And in my understanding;
God be in my eyes,
And in my looking;
God be in my mouth,
And in my speaking;
God be in my heart,
And in my thinking;
God be at my end,
And at my departing."

When the Bishop-designate returned to the Sanctuary he knelt before the Archbishop, with the other four Bishops standing two on each side, and the "Veni Creator Spiritus" was sung over him; and then came the solemn and sacred moment of the laying-on of hands. The vast congregation inside and outside the Cathedral was silent as the Archbishop repeated the solemn words. The Mitre was then placed on Bishop David's head, the Ring on his finger, and the Staff into his hand. Then the Archbishop delivered him the Bible, after which the new Bishop proceeded to his place in the Sanctuary as the congregation sang "Thy hand, O God, has guided Thy flock from age to age." And so the great [135/136] service continued, and after the singing of the hymn, "Now thank we all our God," the Bishop stepped forward to give his first episcopal Blessing to the vast congregation. There was a great silence over all. Clearly the voice of the Coadjutor-Bishop was heard speaking in the Wedauan tongue, which is the lingua franca Of the Mission; and next gave the Blessing in Ubir, the language of the Wanigela people, among whom he commenced his work in this land four years ago. Then came the more staccato sound of the Korafi language, where he worked for some months; then in Notu; then Orakaivan, the language of Sangara, where he was working when the call came to him to take up this new work; and, finally, in English.

Then the Archbishop led the Bishop-Coadjutor down the aisle, and the great procession proceeded to the west door and out into the glorious sunshine, where there were cameras (of the official photograph staff) waiting; and later the Administrator, the Archbishop, Bishops, Chaplains and others concerned very kindly posed while all the more "amateur" members of the staff rolled their films through their cameras at a great pace! If only we had been able to take them in colour film it would have been even more wonderful.

Welcome to the Administrator.

After all this we repaired for lunch, which was at this stage very welcome--not to mention the cups of tea. I think I may say that at this stage we would have liked to put our feet up a bit, but there was a gathering immediately after lunch, when the Administrator was officially welcomed. He spoke to the gathered peoples, white and brown, and stressed the co-operation he had always had from our Mission, and how he hoped that this happy state of affairs would continue. The Lord Bishop also spoke kindly of the helpfulness of the Government attitude towards the work of our Mission, and of his pleasure that the Administrator had been able to be present.

Official speeches were also made by His Grace the Archbishop, the Bishops of Grafton, Rockhampton and Adelaide, all of which were translated by Fr. Jennings, who had a very full-time job--but he does really seem to enjoy it, though one would imagine it to be tiring. Mr. Bob Bunting also spoke, as did Professor Elkin and others.

Presentation of Gifts to Bishop Hand.

Then came the official presentation of gifts to the new Bishop. The first presentation was that of his Pastoral Staff, the gift of his fellow-workers of the white staff and the native clergy. This is really a magnificent piece of work, which has been carved by a Papuan Deacon from a Papuan hardwood. It has in the crook at the top the hands folded in prayer, and was entirely original work by Deacon Japhet. In presenting this Staff to Bishop David, Japhet was rather slow in speaking, and many wondered what he was saying and thought him to be a bit tongue-tied. However, such was not the case; what he said was, "When I look at this Staff I am reminded of a tree from which it came first. God made that tree, and He also made me and gave me the gift to make His tree into that form. The hands folded in prayer will remind me that we need prayer in our lives. Your father told you this morning that your work will be not only in the plain, but up on the hills and down in the valleys, and as you go on your journeys this will be the sign that you are a shepherd of all the peoples you will visit in these places."

The Bishop-Coadjutor's Pectoral Cross was the gift of the Orakaiva people, and is a very beautiful piece of workmanship. On it are the signs of the Passion, and the stone in the centre is set in a crown of thorns.

The Walkabout Cross was the gift of St. Jude's Parish, Randwick, Sydney (Fr. David was their Own Missionary), and was presented by the Rev. O. V. Abram, who spoke very shortly but to the point, and said in conclusion that there was no doubt now that the Diocese would be guided by a "Strong Hand" (the names of our Bishop and Coadjutor).

The Episcopal Rings were both gifts from England. One was presented by the Bishop's father as the gift from the students of his Theological College, and the other was presented by Fr. Benson from the parishioners of Bishop David's previous parish in England.

The Bishop's brother then presented the magnificent Cope and Mitre, the material for which was sent from India by the Bishop's other brother, who is a Priest in India. It is made of Indian silk saffron, which is the Indian holy colour. In presenting it, Fr. Eustace Hand spoke of his and his brother's pride and joy that their younger brother had been chosen to such a high office in the Church.

The people of Wanigela presented the Bishop with a Cope and Mitre made of tapa cloth, a Papuan cloth made from the bark of a tree. The markings on the cope were designed by Fr. Eustace Hand, and executed by him and Fr. Benson. It is really very lovely and was much admired by the Papuans, and many were the indrawn breaths and clucking noises (a general sign of approval up here) as Bishop David put on the cope and mitre and gave his blessing to the Wanigela representatives who had made this gift.

That night His Honour came up to dinner, after which we all returned to the Cathedral for Evensong (sermon too--and a very good one by the Bishop of Adelaide) Procession, and so ended our day--or at least, after supper. It had certainly been a long and tiring day, but everyone was very touched indeed by all they saw and heard.

The Aftermath.

Still at it! Well, the Bishops have been marooned here owing to bad weather. What if [136/137] they had not been able to get here? However, the Bishop of Rockhampton went out to-day in the Auster 'plane; to-morrow we should get the Dragon and the Auster, and the Bishop of Adelaide, the Archbishop, and others will be leaving us. I hope you may be able to see much of what I have described on the newsreels--Paramount representative was here. Also there have been wire recordings made by the Bishops and some of the people. On last Friday we had some native dancing, and that was also recorded and newsreeled. They greatly impressed everyone. I shouldn't be surprised if the Bishop of Grafton introduces similar dancing at the Jacaranda Festival! (though it would not be allowed in Sydney, I guess). The Given children were greatly impressed, and after a few hours of it I heard Marcus ask his mother: "But, Mummy, how do they keep on doing this so long?" (One has often wondered that when trying to get to sleep and a couple of close-by villages have been having an all night "do"!) In fact, the whole staff has been photographed in stills or movies, in plain or technicolour. We seem to have missed our vocations as film stars--or something! I hope you may hear the broadcast (this may be done by A.B.M. in their session) what is now called "Wilkinson's Story," which one of the natives told at the Oga Tara when he related the story the first time publicly; so simple and straightforward, it was wonderful. At the Oga Tara itself they discussed many things--a new dancing, the Papuan Church Fund, the Girls' School at Gona, a talk by the Bishop on Communism. The new Girls' School is to go ahead, by the way; looks as if I may walk right in on it.

The native delegates all departed to their homes yesterday, and we, all being well, will leave for our stations about next Sunday. I think the visiting Bishops were particularly impressed; as one remarked, it reminded him of his Synod, as some speakers got up and would speak right off the point. But I won't say which Bishop!

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