Project Canterbury

Flood Tide in the Pacific: Church and Community Cascade into a New Age

By Frank William Coaldrake

Stanmore, New South Wales: Australian Board of Missions of the Church of England in Australia, no date.

Rapid Social Change

Papua New Guinea



The Diocese of Carpentaria

Theological Education

Pacific Churches' Development Project


Three members of the Melanesian Brotherhod arrive in the highlands of New Guinea to start their three years' service--truly, missionaries in a foreign land..

Headmen and councillors of a village in the highlands with Bishop Hand.

Dogura Cathedral was built with legacies from England, cash and the voluntary labour of local Papuans. It is longer than St. Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne. The total cost was around £4,000.

Trainee members at St. Aidan's College, Dogura, making the old-style wall panels for a staff house. Such materials have a very short life.

Popondetta Church--masterpiee of its style. How sad that a building in these materials quickly perishes.

The School at Dogura created by the Sisters of the Community of the Holy Name (an Australian Order) is now just reaching secondary level. It shares this advance with the Martyrs' Memorial School for boys.

"Cash is invading the village economy ... bookkeeping cannot balance potatoes and pounds."

Interior of Dogura Cathedral. Papuans take their religion seriously.

A linotype machine at Taroaniara and its skilled Melanesian operator. New literates are hungry for reading matter. Christian sources are slow in providing it. Others are not.

"Make do and mend" for Solomon Islands Girl Guide.

Sterilising--as a Melanesian nurse must do it.

Suva's Cathedral has a long way to go to completion.

Candidates for Holy Orders in training at St. John's College, Suva. The Principal is the Rev. John Pittman.

The Anglican Church does much work among the Indians in Fiji, very many of whom are extremely poor. St. Matthew's, Samambula, though newly built, is too small already.

Unemployment, due to the decline in trochus shell, is causing great hardship in the Islands. From such craft the islanders dive for the shell which plastics have now ousted.

The Festival of "The Coming of the Light" commemorates the conversion of the Torres Strait Islands by brown-skinned missionaries from the Loyalty Islands, who came sailing a great distance over the Pacific.



This book attempts to build up a picture of three dioceses and half of a fourth (Carpentaria) similar in only these things: Each is lapped by the Pacific Ocean, each is assisted by the Church of England in Australia through the Australian Board of Missions, and each is caught up and being whirled along in the mill race of social change.

The first is Papua New Guinea, the Australian Church's largest missionary sphere, a vast diocese in Australian Trust Territory where, during seventy years, a very large mission has been built up and a remarkable Christian community created.

The second and third are cousins: Melanesia and Polynesia, the islands of the Pacific, Oceania, primarily the care of New Zealand, but increasingly looking to the Australian Church. This is the unknown part of the map where many intelligent people sink to the foot of the class where geography is concerned--and most other subjects too.

The fourth is that part of the vast diocese of Carpentaria (which includes all the Northern Territory of Australia and the northern tip of Queensland) lying between Australia and New Guinea--the Torres Strait Islands.

Today social, political and economic revolution is transforming these Pacific peoples from a barter-tribalism existence (with cannibalism in some instances hardly forgotten) into a cash economy, votes-for-all, elected [3/4] Legislature, independence-round-the-corner, motor-cars-and-radio stage of growing pains. On average, not one in four of the island peoples can as yet attend even primary school or read and write, but each will very soon have the vote and self-government thrust upon them.

But the stark fact is that there are few years left in which missionaries from older cultures can still share with these peoples their maturity and know-how. Newly independent countries will want to take over control. Then they will have to learn the hard and slow way--by their mistakes.

How to buy up these few remaining years?

The Pacific Churches' Development Project, conceived by the Chairman of the Australian Board of Missions, Canon F. W. Coaldrake, is one answer as regards the Pacific dioceses. Preparations are already being made in Australia. The main concern of this vast project is the training of indigenous leaders. On their quality and quantity almost everything else in the post-independence period will hinge. A sum in the neighbourhood of around two million pounds is involved, a scale of giving never before thought possible, even in the dreams of missionaries.

An Australia-wide survey of Anglican potential in missionary giving is already in progress while these words are being written. The Sydney Diocesan Department of Promotion has undertaken this work, which is to be paid for by the A.B.M. The project has been given the blessing and backing of the Standing Committee of the General Synod of the Church of England in Australia.

The Lambeth Advisory Council on Missionary Strategy, meeting just prior to the Anglican World [4/5] Congress in Toronto, is likely to ask the Church in Australia to shoulder other tasks as well and, it is hoped, will share in this one.

Only against a background of knowledge can such a vast project hope to succeed. Only when people know the facts can their imaginations be stirred and their pockets opened.

But the A.B.M. believes that Church people should be informed of the changes in social development in the Pacific, leap-frogging over each other and jerking these people, all in a generation, out of stone-age tribalism into 20th century technological civilisation and sophistication.

This book consists of descriptive reports prepared and written by Canon Coaldrake for the A.B.M., checking on-the-spot investigation against his unrivalled personal knowledge of each sphere. That Church people may have a picture of the changing world at their gates, and the remarkable things happening in the power of the Holy Spirit in all this work which they support, these reports have been edited and published for their enjoyment and information.


Project Canterbury