St Matthews Digital
26 July 2020
Social Services Sunday
Professor Peter Lineham tells some stories from our past and that of the City Mission
Have You Seen?
03 July 2016
St Thomas' Church, Freemans Bay
05 March 2017
Climate Change - can we make a difference?
22 February 2015
04 February 2022
Climate Crisis Statement
28 January 2022
What is religious freedom
08 December 2019
08 March 2015
Jesus and the politics of power
04 February 2022
07 August 2016
12 December 2020
The Great O Antiphons: O Emmanuel, O Virgo Virginum
Meditation & Prayer
Arts and Music
users can comment on a video.
Social Services Sunday
Just two weeks to go before the end of world war one and Auckland was in the midst of the great. Pandemic of the influenza the so-called Spanish though, it should have been the Kansas influenza.
The ship Niagara the troopship. Niagara had bought back to the city, the disease and it was spreading like wildfire in every corner of the city and was soon to go through the whole of New Zealand, thousands died, many many thousands laid low through that terrible epidemic.
And some Matthews had struggled through the war because it's vicar the, Reverend Gilliam had been serving as a Chaplain on various of the troop ships and so he had left the church in the charge of a very dodgy kirit by the name of Jasper. Calder, this was an unwise thing to do, it has to be said, but, you know you, when there's very little option, you do what you can do and Jasper.
Who was quickly board by things going on and had decided it was much more interesting to help with the ambulances, going out to fetch the sick, and take them over to Auckland hospital, then to write a sermon. And so he came down with the flu and so in the first Sunday of November and the services were canceled because there was nobody to lead them, mind you very few. People were going to church at that point.
The instructions from the health department, where the people were to hold very short services or hold them out of doors, and only morning services. And as I said, Matthews didn't even manage to do that. I think though, something in that moment of the pandemic is part of the clue to what happened in the next stage.
The story because colder became absolutely idolized by the poorer members of the Saint Matthews congregation. And you understand, the Samantha's congregation was very, very clearly, socially differentiated into large numbers of the poor from. This was the Poor Side of the city, but it also becomes since the great 1905 building had been put up, it was the fashionable Church.
Church as well especially as it Paul's had gone off into wild high-church excesses. And so, as a result, when Gilliam decided mid 1919, he could not continue as vicar, his health was broken.
A petition started among the poorer members of the congregation that the unthinkable should happen that The Cure, it should be made the new vika and the petition gathered about 1,000 signatures and made its way to the extremely proper Bishop Averill of Auckland.
And of course, Bishop Abram would have none of this nonsense. You don't make accurate, especially a dodgy curat. Like Jesper called a vicar of the most important Church in the diocese.
There's no way that's happening.
So in the Sunday of October, when the whole thing came to a head and where the Vestry was determined to choose the vicar of hardware and the people wanted Calder, the choir held a strike and refused to attend the services and sing in the services. So, incensed were they by the behavior of the Anglican? Diocese, And Jasper delighted in all the fun of it.
But of course, he ended up with no job. So what was he to do various things appeared in the newspapers, which may or may not have been true of ideas that he had to fill his time. Now just for was not without his own associations. His father was the longtime Vicar of All Saints and ponsonby my home church and William Calder was, you know, archdeacon of Oakland very well connected. He had always been able to find things for his boy, And so called a had been accurate and whangarei and then head filled in when there'd be no Vicar of Grey Lynn. But in each of these places he'd done the kind of not very Anglican things. He had attended a rodeo in whangarei and managed to stay on the horse longer than anybody else and won the prize. This wasn't really quite You know, the thing for a for accurate and in Grey Lynn, he took the heat hired. The Local hall though. I've never been able to establish what Hall it was and held sporting services. And in the sporting Services, he drew on racing analogies which greatly appeal to the working class congregation as you can imagine and there's a huge crowds but when pushed Used to condemn having a flutter on the horses though. He insisted, he himself didn't flutter on the horses. Well the Diocesan social social. What was its name? Good as knows. Anyway, and committee for laying down rules on everything that you ought to do or not. Do was shocked by this and Bishop averell. Newly appointed Bishop at that stage was shocked and so no wonder Abel was having nothing of of Calder.
So without a job he took a temporary position to fill in at Holy Sepulchre and run the evening services and within his taking with them and said he most of the choir and quite a lot of the some Matthews congregation. But his very first sermon, he play acted a debate between an anonymous bishop and various members of a sinner he play acted at. Can you imagine as a sermon On different voices going to see Little Jess because he was pretty short, you know, playing out these differences extraordinarily and and mocking the absolute traditionalism of anglicanism. And it was all very well, but it didn't go down well, with another Vestry. So, he was dismissed yet again and that's why he began the City Mission.
Nobody would happen. But lots of people wanted something that spoke to them at their level.
So we hired the movie theater, The Princess Theater down and Queen Street, it's just a long from where the farmers is. Now the old would cause corner and if you look very carefully, walk down the street on the same side as the farmers you will see there's a Louis Ed sign high on one of the buildings down there and that was the original site of the princess theater and eventually The mission returned to win, it became the Lewis ET building because those movies with a big thing, you know.
So we hired a 1500 seat theater and on the weekend of what we would call a queen's birthday weekend.
He in 1920, he began the services.
Now, it has to be said about this beginning of the City Mission that the last thing on calder's Minds really was Social Services. He was just an unashamed populist, he played two crowns, he did spectacular, colorful things that meant that people flowed into the City and it just Happened to be at a time when Sunday movies were not allowed, of course. And so, he took advantage of that and later he in rivalry with the more famous scrimgeour, scrim of the Methodist Central, Mission began playing clips of movies, as part of the services to keep the crowds still coming in.
But he discovered social concern, because the people whom he, who attended his Services began, telling them telling him about their lives.
About the struggles about the lack of food about the shocking quality of Auckland. Accommodation in this particular area in down towards Freeman's Bay. He began hearing stories of how poor men unrepresented and Court were in dire trouble.
He began hearing stories of the abuse of children and of the terrible problems that children grew up in this area with no experience of holidays or fresh air or anything and the City Mission in some ways just happened.
And gradually. Well since: never planned a sermon. He made them up in the car on the way to the church when he was doing it. He's already has congregations dropped off.
And what was left behind was an agency that 100 years later plays a key role in the city.
And yet, what was it trying to do? I mean, this is the interesting propelled perplexing thing that often aunts the desire that we have to do good and to help and to be supportive to people, but what is the purpose of our social services?
And colder quickly discovered what anybody who's attempted to make sense of the church has soon. Discovered that Christians have no ability to get their act together. They Christians just do things and sometimes the result is completely random. Look at the social services that were then and which are now In the Anglican, Diocese of Oakland that this church is part of. There are more Social Services coming from anglicanism, then from any other agency in the whole of New Zealand.
But do you think that the church can sort of get its act together and work out what it's trying to do with these agencies? No, because they're all a series of random agencies doing their own thing, building their own show competing with each other for fans, the three big ones, the atw see the City Mission and the Selwyn Foundation, huge operations, but they operate completely separately, you know the cell when Wouldn't even let me look at their own Minute box. When I was writing the history of the City Mission, lest I should find The Grubby politics that went on between the cell when foundation of the city mission after the latter split from the former. It's an interesting story. Consider the case of here in this church there was actually going while Jasper was here. The Dock Street Mission. So the Dock Street Mission was a small group.
Group of doctors who were concerned about the needs of the community and saw the need to provide showers and medical assistance to the poor in this District. Or Jasper, never ever connect with that, and it carried on doing its own separate thing. Parallel to this, the City Mission, fortunately, the poor are cunning and they know how to exploit the various different things that are going and they've done pretty well.
All of this. But you might think that the church would think together and say, what are we trying to do. But if you look at say, at the level of, what does the church actually say about social services?
Well, right in the depths of the depression, when the city mission was running a Doss house, further down under Hobson street, that had taken over the old Power building and was accommodating 300 men a night and was grappling with Incredible fights that would go on outside the doors at it. Sounds pretty similar to today. In some ways, doesn't it during that time? This the general Synod met and one of the issues was what should it say about the circumstances of the depression. And the answer was that could say nothing because you see, they didn't want to offend anybody that's the challenge. It's interesting that, you know, the methodists At more or less the same time came out with their striking. Ten principles of social justice that you know they had shaped drawn from an American Source, trying to say some things the Presbyterians ever efficient, as they tend to be had, put together a unified system of Presbyterian, Social Services, Association and coordinated, all their social services. But in the Anglican Church, the City missions, don't even talk to each other, you know, in a consistent kind of way. Now, after this sort of, counsel of Despair, do you think it might be time for us to refresh our vision?
Of what we are actually called to do and be as a Christian Community, in the face of let us face it. Continuing ever greater need, isn't it a shame and appalling shame that a hundred years after the foundation of the City Mission things? Tragically are no better. You know, the poor are still on our streets.
Poverty in every direction.
The readings don't and not terribly promising and helping us to sort the South. This is partly because they're the wrong readings for social service Sunday, but never mind, and they are kind of intriguing because in these Parables is a reminder that the whole purpose of God's people is to build and to shape the kingdom of God That is why we are here. And yet that kingdom of God, Is as Tiny as a mustard seed.
Completely invisible like a speck when you drop it into the ground. But if you plant it in your garden.
Waiting for a nice little in a plant to pop up. I must have planned. You might get a bit of a shock because it's going to turn into a 12 foot high tree that won't be too good for the cabbages. Will it Or the kingdom of God is like yeast.
And yeast. Now I've never understood baking and I can make a disaster at baking at any time, but it's a very, as I can understand, the reason why my scons never work is because I never quite get the yeast properly mixed in. And so here is the picture of a woman who knows how to bake. She's, she's gotta go ambitious thing. I take it that she's The Village Baker because she's probably got 22 kilos.
A flower and she's sifting in the yeast through and through and through and she can't see it. I mean, this is the thing that a baffles me about East, you cannot see it. Where is the yeast? But the yeast is the secret of the growth and unless that yeast is put through out it that, you know, that it will turn out a very odd, very odd amount of bread.
But if properly put through, she will three Feed The Village. That's for sure. There will be bread coming out the doors of the oven. So, enormous will be the amount of bread enough to feed hundred hundred more or what of this very dodgy picture.
Of the Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. And this man is you understand that this was the period. Palestine had always had invades go backwards and forwards across it. And so everybody always had the hope that they might come across treasure left behind by Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar, or oh, you know, who knows? So Alexander, well, this man comes across it. Now, you See that this man is a very dodgy customer, indeed. Because I mean surely if there's treasure in the field, it belongs to the owner of the field.
But you know, that's not his idea if his idea is I'll get without telling anybody, I'm going to get the ownership of that field. So I take it, he's seen the trunk of treasure and furtively covered it up and they're rushed off and done a transaction in the market to buy the field and then he can unpack it and be full of wealth.
And so in this vision of the mysterious treasure, there is immense immense value. But the key is that no one knows how valuable it is except the man who's seen it.
And then that picture of the Pearl now. I mean, for me I would have replaced that by saying it was a book of the most Exquisite quality.
And supposing. It was a a first edition of the authorized version or Shakespeare first folio and the, if I saw that book I think I really would sell my entire library in order to buy that perfect Gem of a book.
It's not that, you know, I've end up with something that's as more valuable than the others. It's just that perfection.
Transforms the way of looking for a person who knows, books or pearls for the Pearl seller that perfect Pearl is worth everything else.
Knowing the quality of what you're after lifting your vision.
Or even that strange story that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a Dragnet stretched out across between two boats.
I take it and dragging down the Sea of Galilee and it's bringing in a whole horde of fishes. Now, there's some rubbish in those fishes and they're going to have to be dumped out and sorted through and there's an ominous picture. That at the end, there's going to be a bit of Justice measured as well, but The assortment the riches, the variety is only possible because we go for everything now. What's all this got to do with Social Services? Firstly, never say, nothing about little things, little things with a vision transcript, May transform the world.
Secondly, what are you dreaming of, what's your sense of possibility? This notion of quality, this notion of something, beautiful and glorious or rich is something that we have to put back into our ambition of what we want to do and be but finally, in the Dragnet we have to see that in the whole variety of people, lies, the extraordinary quality of what God wants to touch and bless and what God sees you see, it is critical that the church that we Remember that our calling our mission?
Is to bring hope and transformation and renewal.
And it's not just a call for us to support agencies like the City Mission and the jtwc, it's a question of what I am called to do. And be, you know, the people who most impress me in the City Mission are the people who for years sorted, the toys and made the parcels of Christmas presents, that little teams of women, the women, who and men, who pushed the Little is to carry the library books, to the into the hospital. The people who today prepare the parcels of food and are there to help and feed the Homeless of Auckland, from Union street from the cafe at the back of Union Street, And I think, you know, every time we do that, we are fulfilling the words of Jesus at the beginning of his mission. The spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to Proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to Proclaim Liberty to the captives.
Recovering of sight to the blind to set at Liberty, those who are oppressed to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor. See the lord requires of us that we will sense our responsibility and our calling to work for justice and freedom and hope and fullness of life.
For all the peoples of our community.
And that we with all our weaknesses and deficiencies my good as I could give you a list of Jasper called as failings and deficiencies but that we are willing to start and to see where it goes. May the Lord make us more creative. Amen.