Project Canterbury

"The Brothers"

By John Manwaring Steward

From Southern Cross Log (English edition), October 1, 1926, pages 8-12.

Transcribed by the Right Reverend Dr. Terry Brown
Bishop of Malaita, Church of the Province of Melanesia, 2008

[8] "The Brothers"

ON Whitsunday, May 23, 1926, at Siota, the Brotherhood for work among the Heathen in the high lands of the interior of Guadalcanar was formally constituted.

The usual College Evensong ended with a Hymn, during the singing of which the Bishop, with the Rev. C. L. Mountfort, as his Chaplain, retired to the Vestry, to assume his Cope and Mitre.

On his return, the seven first volunteers, Ini Kopuria, of Guadalcanar; Moffat Ohigita, Dudley Bale, Cecil Lujagathaga, and Maurice Maneae, all of Bugotu; Benjamin Bokoe, of Guadalcanar; and Hugo Holun, of Cape Marsh; came forward and stood at the Chancel steps.

After the Invocation, the Lord's Prayer and a special Prayer, the Bishop, seated in his chair, received from each member the vows of dedication, then, standing, after the recital of special Versicles and Responses, he solemnly admitted each one with the laying on of his hands.

A Prayer for the Brotherhood and one for the heathen was followed by a special form of Blessing, a Hymn was sung, the Bishop blessed the Congregation, and the seven rose, dedicated to the service of God and His Church.

On the following day, after a Celebration of the Holy Eucharist, they went on board the Southern Cross to reach the scene of their work. The Bishop went with them, to see them settled down and to discuss, at their future headquarters, details of their work.

On Tuesday, the 25th, the party landed at Tambulivu, the Mission village near which the headquarters had been fixed upon.

This is a tract of ground, about half a mile from the beach, on a slight rise, which is the property of Ini Kopuria, and which he wishes to hand over to the Mission as the future home of the Brothers.

The Bishop and the Brothers spent the afternoon of Tuesday in a visit to this spot, suggesting sites for buildings in the future, when, as we hope, the Brotherhood will have become more numerous.

At present there is only one large house, not quite finished, which will serve as the home of the Brothers whenever they are together at headquarters, but there is ample room for expansion, and the site is healthy and in a really beautiful situation.

That evening there was a Service of Preparation for the Holy Communion the next morning, with an address to the Brothers on the difficulties and temptations they were likely to meet on their way.

[9] On Wednesday morning, after the Celebration and breakfast, a "Chapter of the Brotherhood" was held, with the Bishop in the chair. Ini gave a very clear explanation of his views as to the meaning of the Brotherhood, and showed a very practical grasp of the matter. He was then unanimously chosen as the first "Elder Brother" and his election approved by the Bishop.

The first itinerary of the Brothers was mapped out, and the Bishop told the Brothers that he would appoint S.S. Simon and Jude's Day as the "Brotherhood Day" and recommend its observance as such throughout the Diocese.

At three o'clock the Southern Cross returned, and took the Brothers on board again, to set them down at the nearest spot to the road into the hills which they would take the next day.

They came on board looking very businesslike, each with a knapsack on back, which Ini had provided, to carry their possessions on the road. At about six o'clock the landing place was reached.

It was dusk, but a full moon gave plenty of light.

The seven Brothers, a companion for one of them, who may need attention and a friend at hand at times, the Rev. A. A. Thomson and the Bishop got into the boat and were rowed ashore.

There they found some villagers awaiting them, who readily agreed to let the Brothers sleep there that night, before actually starting out into the hills.

The villagers went on ahead, and the Brothers gathered for a few minutes for a prayer and blessing on the threshold of their venture. A final hand-shake, cheers and good-byes, and the boat put back to the ship with Mr. Thomson and the Bishop, leaving the little party ashore, not alone, but in the care of their Father and His Holy Angels.

May God bless them in their work, and prosper it to His Honour and Glory.

Rules of "The Brothers"

The rules of "The Brothers" will give an idea of the scope and nature of their work.

1. The work of "The Brothers" is to preach Jesus among the Heathen; not to work in Christian villages.

2. The Brothers are divided into "Households."

3. Each Household shall consist of not less than four, and not more than eight Brothers.

[10] 4. When there are more than eight Brothers in any one Household, four of them shall start a new Household in another village.

5. Each Household shall elect one of their number as their "Elder Brother," who shall look after the "Younger brothers," and they shall obey him and work under his direction.

6. As long as a Brother remains in the Brotherhood he shall remain unmarried, shall ask no remuneration, and shall not disobey the Elder Brother.

7. All the Brothers shall renew their promises annually on S.S. Simon & Jude's Day.

8. The Bishop shall be the "Father" of the Brothers. The Father shall decide upon the sphere of work for the Brothers, agree to the election of an Elder Brother, or, should he not approve, the Brothers shall make other choice.

9. Should any dispute among the Brothers arise, it shall be referred to the Father, whose decision shall be final, and must not be disobeyed.

10. The Brothers shall proceed on their work thus:--

They shall select the sphere of their future work, the Father shall give his consent, and they shall proceed to that place. Two Brothers shall stay at Headquarters, and the others, two by two, shall go among the Heathen as the Elder Brother shall direct.

11. They shall not settle in any one village, but remain not longer than three months in one place. They shall meet at some spot arranged by the Elder Brother, report the results of their work, and proceed to fresh places.

12. The two Brothers who remained at headquarters shall take the place of two of those who have been working among the heathen.

13. As soon as any village has accepted the Faith, the Bishop shall be informed, and shall take steps to find a Teacher for that village, and, when such a Teacher has been installed, the Brothers shall go elsewhere.

14. Each Elder Brother shall write a report of the doings of his Household to the Father, at least once a year.

15. The Brothers shall meet four times a year, viz.:

(a) On S.S. Simon & Jude's Day.
(b) On S. Paul's Day.
(c) On S. Mark's Day.
(d) On S. James' Day.

[11] 16. Each Brother on entering the Brotherhood, and afterwards on each S.S. Simon and Jude's Day shall promise as follows:--

"IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND OF THE SON AND OF THE HOLY GHOST AMEN. I promise that while I remain a member of the Brotherhood, I will remain unmarried, I will ask for no payment and I will not disobey the Elder Brother of my Household or the Father. This I promise before God and this Congregation."

17. He shall make this promise in Church, in the presence of the Congregation.

18. These rules shall be written in a Book, and each Brother shall subscribe his name to them when he joins the Brotherhood, and each succeeding S.S. Simon & Jude's Day, as long as he desires to remain a Brother.

19. If any Brother shall desire to leave the Brotherhood, he shall tell his Elder Brother, who shall tell the Father, and that person shall leave unhindered.

20. Each Brother shall address a fellow Brother as "My Brother," and shall refer to him as "Brother --------," using his Christian name.

21. Each Brother shall pray daily for the Heathen and for all the Brothers.

A Prayer for "The Brothers"

LORD JESUS CHRIST, Who didst send the Holy Apostles to preach the Gospel to every nation; we beseech Thee to bless every work of Thy Church among the Heathen. Grant to The Brothers (in Melanesia) whatever may be of true help to them, and grant success to their labours. Guard, protect and bless them, and call others suited to this work, that those who are dead in sin may have Life, and Thy Glory may be great on earth; Who liveth with the Father and the Holy Spirit, One God, for ever and ever. Amen.

What is this "Brotherhood" going to do?

Probably those who have had the patience to read as far as this, will have some such question as the above on their lips. At any rate I hope they will, for that will show that they are sufficiently interested to wish to hear a little more.

[12] Well, in the first place, the Brothers have undertaken a work that is almost impossible for the European members of the Staff.

They are going, with hardly any "implimenta," days' journeys into the mountains of Guadalcanar, and hope to reach people we white folk would, probably, never touch at all.

It is a young man's job, and they are all young men, quite young, too young, some critics may say. But on the other hand, they are filled to a singular degree with the sense of "Vocation." One and all, I believe, they feel that GOD has directly called them to this work, and further they believe that God, Who has called them, will work with them. "Lo. I am with you always" is their Charter, and they are taking Gods promise as the truth, and not as a mere figure of speech.

Secondly, they go in the spirit of the Baptist; definitely "to prepare the way" and nothing else.

Thirdly, we hope that this movement will provide an opportunity for those young men, who want to do some work for GOD, but do not want to settle down, just yet, to the humdrum life of an assistant village-teacher.

"How can we keep the young men" is just as great a problem in Melanesia as it is elsewhere, and in this Movement we hope we have found one answer to this question.

One word as to their title, "The Brothers." Why have we given them this name? Well, it "came." Ini and I sought for a good name; we could not find a really good and suitable one; but they were a band of Brothers, why not call them "The Brothers" and have done with it? And, on consideration, there seemed no answer to this. They were Brothers, just plain brothers, and nothing else. So "Brothers" they were, and are, called.

Some day, we dream of "Households" all through Melanesia, wherever Heathen still are to be found. We dream of a Brotherhood Centre, a house for each Household. A Church, complete in the beauty of Holiness. Great gatherings for Devotion, discussion, refreshment, and renewal of vows. Somewhere in our dream we seem to see White Brothers, too, we seem to see the little flowers of S. Francis blossoming in the desert places of the Islands. No longer do we hear the cry "Send us more men," for a greater Voice than ours has called and been obeyed.

Is it only a dream? Well old men dream dreams. . . . May God grant that the Young men may see the Vision, hear the Call and respond to it, till the earth is full of the knowledge of the LORD.

Bishop of Melanesia.

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