Norfolk Island, November 19, 1886.
My dear Still,
It was your suggestion that I should draw up a short summary of the present state of the Mission, to be distributed in the churches of New Zealand at the time of the annual offertories which are collected for us. I think I can do this most easily in the shape of a letter to you. You know how the work began in the voyages made by my father when Bishop of New Zealand, how that work was carried on by the devotion of Bishop Patteson and those who worked with him and how the Church in New Zealand has always adopted the Mission as its own. You also know that when you and I joined the Mission in 1873, the work had begun to consolidate itself and grow. Since then we may humbly but truly say that the blessing of God has been with us. The following rough summary for the year 1886 will show how we stand now--
Islands Schools Teachers Scholars Adult Baptisms Ysabel 3 8 99 46 Florida 16 44 794 263 San Cristoval 3 Ulawa 2 16 150 5 Malanta 1 Santa Cruz 1 2 25 2 Torres Island 1 2 40 Merelava, Sta. Maria, Mota, Motalava, Vanualava, Ureparapara 30 61 600 158 Opa, Maewo 9 18 200 80 Araga 3 5 69 5 Totals 69 156 1977 559
Commenting on this I may remark:--
Schools.--These vary in efficiency according to the character and ability of the teacher in charge. Our practice is as far as possible, to examine every school annually, and I found marked improvement in most of those I visited this year.
Teachers.--Many of these are young and only beginners. It is a most hopeful sign, however, that almost all our boys on returning home are ready to teach, but, as you know, it is only a few who come to maturity as first-class teachers. It is our great difficulty to supply enough of these. In the above list only male teachers are included, but a considerable number have wives who help largely in the schools.
Scholars.--It will be seen that these average about thirty to each school; but adults are not included who come for oral instruction. In some cases these far outnumber the children.
Baptisms.--These are fairly satisfactory, and the number of candidates is growing steadily. The above list includes only adult baptisms during the present year, but there is a large number of infants baptized also.
Confirmations.--I confirmed thirty-six persons at Ara this [344/345] year, who were prepared by the Native clergyman in charge, and seemed very much in earnest to renew their vows.
Churches.--Great pains are taken now to build suitable schools and churches. In the Banks' Islands they work in lime and stone. Last month I opened a church on the little reef island of Rowa, containing a population of twenty-nine souls, where the walls, seats, Communion Table and rails were all made in concrete. I also consecrated a new church at Halavo in Florida.
Native Clergy.--These now number seven. I ordained one Deacon this year in the midst of his own people at Motalava.
Norfolk Island School.--We have now 180 scholars here, with six white clergy and three laymen, besides several ladies who give most efficient help.
Expenditure.--I. Stipends of clergy and other helpers. 2. Food and clothing for our scholars. 3. The Mission vessel with its auxiliary steam power, without which we could not do our work. 4. Salaries of native teachers, amounting now to about £600 a year.
Annual Publications.--The Report issued in Auckland about March. "The Island Voyage" published in England and sent out to our regular subscribers. The latter contains full accounts of our doings.
I conclude in the words of S. Paul, "Finally, brethren, pray for us." They came deep from his heart as he stood facing the civilised heathenism of his day; and they come deeply from ours, because we see so plainly the utter darkness of the heathen life, while in the lives and deaths of many of our converts we recognise the power of God.
Believe me, yours affectionately,
J. R. Selwyn,
Rev. John Still.