Project Canterbury

Tribute to Walter Hubert Baddeley.

By John Simkin.

Auckland: no publisher, 1947.


Right Reverend Father in God,

On this, the last occasion on which you will speak in this country before your resignation of the office of Bishop of Melanesia, we desire to offer to you respectfully and affectionately words of gratitude and farewell and of hope and assurance for the future.

To-night, our minds look back over the past fourteen years to Saint Andrew’s Day in the year 1932 when, in this Cathedral Church, you were consecrated to the Episcopal Office and sent to be Christ’s Shepherd of the peoples in the Islands of the Southern Seas. It is fitting that you should lay down that work in the place where it was entrusted to you. We esteem the privilege of bidding you Godspeed in the new work to which He has called you. We rejoice that the Primate who consecrated you to the Episcopate is here to unite with us in this expression of good wishes and to bless you and us ere you depart.

The years of your Episcopate have been years of great moment in the history of mankind at large and, not less in the history of your Diocese and people, who have been brought into vital contact with the peoples of other nations in a manner entirely unforeseen and for which contact they were neither purposely nor consciously prepared. In this contact they have passed through the crucible of severe testing and from this testing they have emerged steadfast and, we believe, unsullied.

The invasion of the Islands of your scattered Diocese by the fighting forces of a heathen nation, armed with every instrument of modern warfare and destruction, was a severe trial. If your people had failed, none could have blamed them. They did not fail and there are on record deeds of heroism, collective and individual, of which all may be proud.

The advent of relieving forces from the United States of America, from Australia and from New Zealand, introduced to your people new influences and attitudes to life which constituted further trial.

[1/2] In these events Christian virtue has been severely tested—in the testing, Christian virtue has triumphed. The courage of the Native people, of the Native clergy and teachers, of the white missionaries, male and female, has remained steadfast, not only in material and physical danger but also in the more subtle and difficult sphere of spiritual trial and temptation.

We thank God for this steadfast witness to the profession of belief in Jesus Christ—the harvest which has been reaped from the sowing by past generations of Christian teachers, by George Augustus Selwyn, by the martyrs Bishop Patteson and Joseph Atkin, his fellow worker, by all who have followed them—unknown to us of this generation but known to God. We thank God for you—for the part you have been called to play and the manner in which you have played it. We thank God for ‘your work of faith and labour of love and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ’.

Your task in Melanesia has ended at a time when the people, emerging from a period of great trial, have seen the visions of a future in which development and progress to a higher state of civilisation loom large on their horizon—a vision of possibility. We believe that the ideals for them and for the Native church, with which God has inspired you, and which you have passed on to them, will be the influence which will safeguard their steps as they progress and their defence in the new temptations which they must inevitably encounter.

Not in this Cathedral Church but in the nearby Library at Bishop’s Court, in the year 1868, an address of farewell was presented to George Augustus Selwyn, first Bishop of New Zealand and Apostle of Melanesia—an address prepared by your martyred predecessor, John Coleridge Patteson. Reverently and sincerely we venture to say farewell to you in words quoted and adapted from that address.

We humbly believe that by your wide and varied experience of many forms of human life, bringing you into contact with men in every stage of barbarism and civilisation, on your lonely journeys in the solitudes and on the waves of the Pacific, God’s Holy Spirit has been training you for an even greater work than any you have hitherto accomplished. The crowning work, it may be, of your life to which he has now called you. We believe you were sent to this most distant [2/3] part of the Mission Field to nurture the infant members there and we believe you are now called to quicken the heart of the dear Mother Church at home that so the life blood may circulate with fresh vigour throughout the Body.

We know full well that you will never cease to pray and labour for your people in Melanesia, and you need no assurance that they will ever remember and pray for you. How can they ever forget you? Every spot in those islands is identified with you. Each hill and valley, each river and bay and headland, is full of memories of you—the countless islands all speak to them of you. Whether your days be few or many, they, as long as they live, will ever hold you in their

We humbly pray that your mind and spirit may for all generations be stamped upon the Church in Melanesia and that the multitudes of the isles may learn your name in years to come and rise up and call you blessed.

In your many journeys, as you once testified, when trials and difficulties beset your path, like the Psalmist of old, you lifted up your eyes to the hills and from God gained strength by that assurance of His presence; so in the familiar scenes and amongst the people to whom you now return, may that same assurance at all times be with you, strengthening you to face the unknown with the same courage and devotion as you have done in Melanesia.

May God bless, preserve and keep you always. Amen.

[signed] +John Auckland

Project Canterbury