Project Canterbury


Diocese of New Guinea.







Printed at Dogura. Papua by Papuans



Transcribed by the Right Reverend Dr. Terry Brown
Bishop of Malaita, Church of the Province of Melanesia, 2007

Reproduced online by kind permission of the Most Reverend the Archbishop of Papua New Guinea, 2007.


The following is the last part of the Presidential Address and Charge of the Right Reverend Philip N. W. Strong, Bishop of New Guinea, which the Staff requested might be printed.


And now I must bring this long Address to a close. It is called the Bishop's Presidential Address and Charge to Conference. Most of it has been occupied in a review of the events of the last two years since we last met and has perhaps been more in the nature of a Report than a Charge, but I have endeavoured to work into it also reflections not only on time past but on our present and future tasks.

I would in this last section of my Address speak more specifically of OUFSELVES AND OUR VOCATION, and if what may be more directly regarded as the 'CHARGE' part of my address is of necessity short, it might seem to some that this, the more important part, is out of proportion to the rest. I do not think however that it is, for it is in relation to the past and to all the life and work of the Church in this Diocese that we must set our own lives, our vocation and our duty, our work and self-offering.

First, let me say however, that I had myself no idea when I began this address how much there was that must come into it if I was to endeavour to give you a true picture of the life and work of the Church in the last two years. I have, in fact, been amazed at how much there has been to record. And therein is I feel something to stimulate us, to encourage us and to arouse in us praise and thanksgiving to Almighty God which in itself will call forth from us a deeper and more wholehearted consecration of ourselves to His Service. I speak for myself, but I think that my experience will be similar to your own, when I say that so often one is enmeshed in routine work, or overwhelmed by a demand of a moment, or by some difficult problem or sad failure, that one fails to see the wood for the trees. Most of us are probably for the major portion of our time absorbed in our own work, that we do not and cannot see the work as a whole. No doubt there are times when we feel that little progress is being made, when we are cast down by what seems to be regression rather than progression, when a sense of futility regarding our own life and work and individual efforts possesses us, and tends to crush us down, and we wonder if anything worth while is being done at all. How uplifting, how encouraging it is then for us to come together to see the work as a whole, and to see it in a perspective where our view is not a cramped and narrow one, where in fact we are able to see the wood as a whole and not only individual trees in it, to see it, perhaps we may humbly believe, a little bit more as God sees it than as we tend to see it from day to day.

.In the Book of Genesis we read that in the Creation, though God viewed what had been done on each of the days of the Creation and saw that it was good, it was at the end of His six days of Creation that He viewed the work as a whole. "And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was VERY GOOD." And so we may well believe that God looks forth upon His creative work still going on in the life and work of His Church here in New Guinea, and behold all that He has done is very good. There is no doubt about that. All that God has done is very good. Alas! so often that which is very good loses some of its quality of goodness and becomes through our failures and insufficiency only good instead of being very good, and, may even be changed from good to bad; but when we take a long distant view backwards we see that even there God has often overruled our failures and insufficiency, our incapacity to rise to what He expected of us, and has preserved that which was in the first place of His own Creation, and has brought strength out of weakness.

[2] A general survey such as we have taken does help us to see that God is working His purpose out as year succeeds to year, and even though of times He moves in mysterious ways His wonders to perform, yet in every way, whether by success or failure, whether in sickness or health, life or death GOD IS BEING GLORIFIED.

One of the great advantages and blessings of our Conference gathering is surely
that this conviction is strengthened within us and calls forth from our hearts a fuller response to God's call to each of us individually for we are the are instruments whom He has chosen to be the means of His glorification in this land of Papua and New Guinea at this present time. He has never promised us that our path will be an easy one or that the life of the Church would go along smoothly without difficulties. He has, however, given us one promise which He will never retract and that is that in all our life in His service He will be with us, "Lo, I am with you always even unto the end of the world." We know how faithfully and wonderfully He fulfils that promise. I pray God that we may all go back from this gathering renewed in body, mind and spirit.

We have been meeting during the Epiphany season and if I may I will reiterate some of the things I said in my sermon last night. God has called us THAT WE MAY BE 'EPIPHANIES' OF HIS GLORY, that He may show forth His glory in us and through us in this land and before His Papuan children whom He loves. Christ's own Epiphany, the showing forth of His Incarnate Glory was not only in His works nor only in His words but most of all in His life of perfect obedience and surrender to the will of His Father. And so with us, it is not only that God is to be shown forth in the work that we do, whether it be of a material nature in the running of our stations, hospitals, or school, or whether it be of a more definitely spiritual nature in preaching the Gospel or in teaching or in pastoral work with individuals or in exhortation but far more important than all this be shown forth in our Christian lives day by day and indeed moment by moment. As I pointed out in my address in the Cathedral the Church in choosing for the Epistles for the Sundays after the Epiphany, St Paul's practical exhortations given after his long dogmatic arguments in the Epistle to the Romans, sets forth in no uncertain terms the nature of the Epiphany of a daily Christian life. Its foundation must be in self-offering. "I beseech you therefore ye brethren, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world, but be yet transformed by the renewing of your minds." That means SELF-OFFERING, and self-offering is sacrifice. Sacrifice is the essence of self-offering and of the Christian life.

Let me say just a word about SACRIFICE, for as sacrifice was the central mark of our Lord's own Epiphany so it must be the central mark of the Epiphany in our lives. Sacrifice enters into our missionary life in so many different ways. There is not only sacrifice in the initial acceptance of vocation in leaving behind us our homes our loved ones, and it may be prospects of success and advancement, and the promise of a greater security for the future and other like things of a material nature, but it also involves for many from time to time spiritual sacrifice and this is something which is not often realised in the Church at home. There is the case of those in the mission field who it may be are on a station where there is no priest and therefore no regular sacraments, where the missionaries who have accepted God's call and dedicated themselves to His service find less opportunities of receiving His sacraments than they did in the Church at home before they received such a call, and they are thrown back more and more upon their own spiritual resources and upon the foundations of their spiritual life. This is a sacrifice that God asks of us, not the kind of sacrifice that people visualise., but none the less a very real one and one that if accepted in the right way and used rightly can be a true Epiphany, showing forth of God's glory. [2/3] For the offering to Him of the deprivation of the joy and satisfaction of, for instance, sacramental Communion, or sacramental Confession, and the acceptance in their place of deliberates acts of spiritual communion, meditation, penitence and prayer, do undoubtedly bring to those who offer them spiritual blessings that cannot be estimated for their richness.

And then there is the case of those who find it so difficult to worship God and to offer to Him the sacrifice of their lives in services that are in a native language or a language not fully understood by them. They are, and thank God that they are, animated by a sense of duty that for the corporate well being of the Church they should join with the people in their services and worship with them, but at the same time they are depressed by a sense of barrenness in their own souls, of weariness at the length of a service in a language not understood by them, and feel that they derive no spiritual benefit therefrom. I have, as you know, in the past advocated that we should endeavour to join with the people at least in the central act of worship on Sunday morning, though at this Conference I have deliberately arranged opportunities for Communion at an English Eucharist on each Sunday morning because our conference time is meant to be a time of spiritual refreshment for our staff in which we trust that all will receive the maximum amount of spiritual benefit and refreshment that their souls need. I do think however that when there are such English services at which we are able to make our communion more devotionally than at a service in another language it is good if we can also spend a portion of the time with the people during their own central act of worship, but in most stations there is no alternative on a Sunday morning and no possibility of an English service and therefore all our worship must of necessity be concentrated on the central service. May I humbly suggest to you that any who feel troubled about their own spiritual state through their inability to enter as fully as they would wish into a service not in their own language, should not let themselves be unduly troubled about this but should feel that even the striving after and desire for spiritual satisfaction can become a selfish thing, and that part of the sacrifice that God may demand of us may be to forego the emotional or conscious spiritual satisfaction that we would like to be able to realise in our worship, to forego it for the sake of the people to whom He has sent them, even as He Himself forewent for a time on the Cross the joy and consciousness of His Father's nearer presence and endured the darkness in place of the light. And when we accept such a deprivation in that spirit and offer it to Christ in the spirit of His sacrifice, whatever we may feel, we shall never really go away empty. And, if I may, again in all humility, offer advice on this subject I would suggest that those who do find themselves overwhelmed with a sense of weariness at such services should try to cultivate a systematic use of the long time that they spend in Church by carrying on their own devotions, it may even be, independently of the service that is going on, though they would naturally continue to join in the salient feature of that service, but to use the rest of the time for their own intercessions and to offer those intercessions systematically. What better use can we make of such a long periods than by praying for others, and how many there are for us to pray for, and how much new strength will come to the Church through the offering of such prayers as well as blessing for those for whom we offer them, and blessing also for ourselves for it is ever, as our Lord said, more blessed to give than to receive. It may be to use the time in meditation, and if the concentration involved in meditation is too difficult to them a planned reading of the Holy Scriptures, or a pondering over devotional hymns that will keep our minds fixed upon Him in whose presence we are and to Whom we desire to give ourselves, as He gave Himself for us.

Please do not think, my brethren, that I am suggesting that these things are not done. I know that they are done by many of you much better than they are [3/4] done by myself, but in my position of spiritual leadership I would desire to bring the suggestions before you all in case there may be one or two here or there whom they may be of help.

And now, if we may turn again to the thought of the Epiphany of the Daily Christian life and of the practical exhortations of St. Paul in the epistle for the Sunday after the Epiphany and paying special heed again to those exhortations in this week's epistle, of which I spoke in the Cathedral last night. "Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible as much as lieth in you live peaceably with all men."

"Be not wise in your own conceits." These words warn us against Pride. Pride in its many different forms, is, as we know, the root of all sin. It is really selfishness and it is a sin which so often invades the life of a missionary and spoils the offering of missionary service. It is not possible, nor is it the right time, for me to speak of all the various ways in which it may do so, but only in the final charge of my address to exhort you as I exhort myself to strive after a deeper humility of heart and mind. Perhaps the most common form of pride in missionary service manifests itself in individualism. Individualism is different to individuality. Individuality can enrich the Body of Christ for there can be a wonderful unity in the midst of a wide Diversity of personalities

But individualism is a self centred thing which tends to weaken the fellowship, destroy unity and break the Body. In the course of my experience as Bishop I have seen how wide spread individualism becomes and is in the life of our Mission. It is not surprising that it should be so. It is a very natural thing indeed that it should be so, but the trouble is that though it is natural it is not super-natural and the mere fact that it is natural tells against the supremacy of the super-natural. It so easily manifests itself in the form of MY WORK, MY station, MY school, MY hospital and so on, or refusal to share with another fellow-worker a work that is really too much for us, a refusal to delegate authority not just because we want the power ourselves but because in our heart of hearts we feel that we alone can do it efficiently and that others will not do it as well; and when others do come and help us to resent it as an invasion of what we feel to be our province. It is so difficult my brethren to counter these things.

They can only be countered in a personal striving within the inner man in each of us. Then if I may mention one other manifestation only. There is perhaps a danger of adopting a superior attitude both towards fellow workers and towards those to whom we are sent. Too quickly do we see the faults in others, but far, far too slowly do we see those that are within ourselves. Too quickly do we resort to criticism of others but far too slowly to self-criticism. Too quickly do we condemn the failures of others, the moral failures of our fellow Papuan workers or some of our spiritual children, too little do we look upon those failures in the spirit of 'there but for the grace of God is my own failures.' Too slowly are we ready to make allowances for them and too quickly do we make allowances and excuses for ourselves.

And even in regard to the outer world there is the danger of material or spiritual snobbery in relation to Government officers, traders and other members of the community in the attitude of 'I am better than you.' Well and truly did St Paul say be not wise in your own conceits and he goes on to say 'Recompense to no man evil for evil.'

It was good that the conductor of our Retreat took as the theme of his addresses, St Paul's wonderful panegyric on charity, on Love. There is a need, is there not?, for a deeper dedication to that spirit of HOLY CHARITY, 'the very bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whosoever liveth is counted dead'. The Charity that suffereth long and is kind, the charity that envieth not, the charity that vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. That is the charity that NEVER FAILETH. That is the charity that we need, more and more in our fellowship with one another.

Looking back over 20 years of episcopal life, over and over again I have seen how wonderfully God knits us together into a fellowship of mutual understanding, sympathy and charity in our gatherings together here at Dogura at Conference time, and yet, how often it happens that before long when we are separated from one another and our Conference is over here and elsewhere that wonderful bond of charity is weakened and lessened if not broken. Thoughtless things are said, hurtful things at times. Perhaps occasionally, I think only occasionally malicious things, gossip is resorted to in conversation and in letter that seems harmless enough and yet it attributes motives to the actions of others, or puts an interpretation on words or action which it is doubtful in their original they were intended to have, hints are dropt, suggestions are made, and even if no evil intent prompted them and they were intended to be harmless they succeed in sowing seeds of doubt, of lack of confidence and of distrust in the minds of others of a fellow worker or another, to depreciate the estimate that they had of such and to attribute wrong motives to his or her actions and to create bad feeling. Or things are said of another and sooner or later get back to that other and hurt deeply when they come back and arouse feelings of resentment within and desire for revenge. And so in this way or that, by this person or that, that HOLY AND BEATIFUL AND GOD-GIVEN BOND OF HOLY CHARITY IS BROKEN. All these things are so common in the world and the world often glories in them.

[5] We who are called to Christ's service are not exempt from them. Indeed in the very nature of our holy calling and because of it we are perhaps more prone to them, more open to attack by the evil one for it is, is it not, his favourite weapon for spoiling the fellowship of the Church. Other avenues of temptation because of our faith, our vocation and holy religion it may be promise him little success, but this one is such an easy one to him, and one that he can penetrate into the very sanctuary of God Himself, and into the sanctuary of a dedicated soul. But why, oh why, should he succeed so often and so easily? It has been said to me by new missionaries soon after they have joined the staff of the Diocese, 'I did not think that I should have found this sort of thing here' or words to that effect. Of course they were mistaken in thinking that they were coming to a Paradise, to a heaven. They should have known that they were coming to a battle ground, to a war zone, indeed to the very front line of the age long war that is going on between God and the devil, between the powers of good and evil and that in that war they must not expect to be exempt from wounds any more than a warrior in a physical warfare can expect.

I say these things not to reproach but to exhort. FOR THE EPIPHANY OF CHRIST AND THE STRENGTH OF HIS CHURCH DEPENDS ON OUR STRIVING TO THE UTMOST TO MAINTAIN THE FELLOWSHIP AND TO STRENGTHEN THE BONDS OF CHARITY. We can safely leave whatever wrongs may be done to us to God Himself for as St. Paul says, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord," and go forward ourselves in the spirit of our Divine Master Himself and of His first martyr St. Stephen in praying for those who do us wrong and in acting towards them in kindness.

We are the messengers of peace. The Gospel in the first place brought peace to warring tribes in this land. It was said so of Samuel Tomlinson and it is written on the cross in his memory at MUKAWA 'he brought us peace'. But if we are to bring peace among men and especially among the people of Papua and New Guinea there must be peace too always amongst ourselves and within ourselves.

And then finally we take that middle exhortation of St. Paul 'Provide things honest in the sight of all men' and for honest we may read honourable or perhaps better still 'convincingly good' and what is there more convincingly good than CHRIST LIKENESS? IT IS CHRIST LIKENESS THAT PAPUA AND NEW GUINEA NEEDS, indeed that the whole world needs. And whence cometh Christ likeness? Cometh it not with a life of union with Him? And union with Him means sanctity. Our Lord Himself, even though He was perfect, in His last great High Priestly prayer said to His Father 'for their sakes (that is for the sake of His disciples, those to whom he had been sent) FOR THEIR SAKES I SANCTIFY MYSELF". The Greek word for Sanctify is Consecrate, a word of even greater import than sanctify.

And may that, my brethren, be the aim of our life, that for their sakes, for those to whom we have been sent, we may each of us resolve to sanctify, to consecrate ourselves so that we may say with the great Apostle St. Paul 'I live, yet not I but Christ liveth in me.' And then indeed in all ways, whether by success or failure, whether in sickness or in health, whether by a full staff or a meagre staff, whether in life or death, God will be glorified here in all things through us and His glory will be shown forth in the Epiphany of His Church in this land.

I thank you my brethren for your help to me in my work and for your forbearance with my idiosyncrasies and failures. Above all I thank my brother Bishop for all that he is to me and has done to assist me in my own responsibilities. I beseech your forgiveness for all my failures towards you and towards His Church as I ask forgiveness at His hands and I commend you to Him who is able to do more abundantly than either we can ask or think. To Him be glory in the Church through Christ Jesus throughout all ages, World without end. Amen.

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