OUR MISSION TO THE CITY
It is essential for Australian Christians to possess insights in an urban strategy designed to help Christians living in the city to be more successful and effective in their Christian living.
Today 86% of all Australians live in six cities huddled around our coastline. Urbanization is the greatest story in the world today. For over twenty years I have lectured students doing postgraduate degrees in urban ministry. Some years ago Emmanuel School of Religion TN, USA appointed me Adjunct Professor of Christian Ministries specializing in urban mission. My students are ministering in great cities all over the world.
I have visited every village, town and city mentioned in the New Testament in a dozen different countries of the Middle East. I studied what happened there, and what is of significance to our faith because of what happened there. I have described each centre, its history and involvement with early Christianity, and what insight we can gain for successful living in the city today.
This is an interesting, Biblically sound, and archaeologically up to date study. Many churches have gathered a group together to study the scriptures, printed off the free study each week from my website, and set out on a fascinating discovery tour of the following places: Bethlehem; Nazareth; Capernaum; Caesarea Philippi; Jericho, Gadara, Sychar; Nain; Jerusalem; Emmaus; Damascus; Ephesus; Philippi; Corinth; Athens; Rome and some other places. Detailed discussions on each place can be found on www.gordonmoyes.com
I once saw how these insights were successfully put together in one church in a surprising city, because of the leadership of one layman. I was preaching each day for a week in Christian Mission Church in Launceston. The church is a memorial to Henry Reed its founder pastor. In 1873 he left England for Tasmania to work among the poor and disadvantaged. Many were convicts and descendants of convicts who found life hard in Tasmania.
Henry Reed, (1806 – 1880) was born in Yorkshire, son of a local postmaster. At 13 he was apprenticed to a merchant, but he became benefactor, company director, general merchant, landowner, Member of Upper House, Methodist lay leader, church planter and pastor, ship-owner, trader and whaler. At 20 he sailed from Gravesend by steerage and arrived at Hobart Town in April 1827. His goal was Launceston; with no conveyance available he walked the 120 miles (193 km) with a shipmate, met John Gleadow and obtained a position in his store.
His friendship with John Batman, to whose marriage at Launceston he was a witness, made Reed quick to see the value of land and convict labour. He declared his assets at £605 and in January 1828 was given a free land grant of 640 acres (259 ha). He soon acquired other properties near Launceston. He left Gleadow’s store and established a general merchant business under his own name and began his shipping ventures by chartering the Britannia with James Henty for a trading voyage to Swan River.
Soon he had his own ships. The Henry was one of his first, followed by the Socrates. They were engaged in whaling, sealing and general trading out of Launceston to Hobart, Sydney, New Zealand and London. He had men at Westernport for wattle bark, and at Kangaroo Island and Spencer Gulf for whales, and visited them often, navigating and commanding his own ships.
He established a whaling station at Portland which he later sold to the Hentys. His enterprise on Australia’s southern coast did much towards its later settlement. In 1832 he was publicly thanked for helping to establish a lucrative whale oil trade at Launceston and for interesting British merchants in it.
He sold sugar from Mauritius, wool to France and wheat to Sydney. He paid several visits to the whaling grounds, and reported on good land for the later settlement of South Australia. In 1835 Reed visited the first settlers at Port Phillip, including his friend John Batman. His ships were soon busy carrying stores, livestock and migrants from Launceston. Reed’s enterprise helped the new settlement in many other ways, not least his loan of £3000 to John Batman.
He bought a property near Mole Creek and renamed it Wesley Dale. In December 1835 he became an original director of the Bank of Australasia at Launceston and was appointed superintendent of the new Sunday school opened by the Methodist church.
With all his business ventures Reed found time for practical religion. By faith a Wesleyan and a fervent evangelist, he had ready sympathy for all unfortunates. At Port Phillip he spent some time up country with Aboriginals in hope of saving them from a fate like that of the Tasmanian tribes. He was reputed to have preached the first sermon on the site of Melbourne, his congregation being Henry and John Batman, William Buckley and three Aboriginals.
To encourage the opening of a mission at the new settlement he offered £20 and annual subscriptions. At Launceston in November 1837 he had himself locked one night in the cells with condemned criminals who were to be executed next morning.
In politics Reed’s experience was short and unpleasant. In 1845 Reed was persuaded to represent the northern mercantile interests, but after a few months of struggle he resigned his seat from the Legislative Council. For the next twenty-six years he lived in England while his affairs in Launceston flourished and values appreciated. Reed’s major interest, however, was evangelical. He undertook many preaching engagements throughout the north of England and, dismayed by the widespread poverty he encountered, devoted himself to providing homes and assisting the poor with food and other necessities. In his home town of Doncaster he bought ten cottages for free occupation by aged Christians and arranged to pay all the rates and repair bills.
He became associated with General Booth and helped him with money and advice in the difficult formative years of the Salvation Army. Generous gifts were also made to other evangelical work such as the China Inland Mission and the East London Christian Mission. He helped to establish places of worship in the East End and schools on Bow Common. In 1869 he gave the first £1000 to Rev. William Pennefather for a church conference hall. He compiled The Pioneer Hymn Book (London, 1870) and published two tracts, ‘Be filled with the spirit’ and ‘Incidents in an eventful life’, Dunorlan Tracts, 1-2 (London, 1873).
In April 1873, while preaching in a Harrogate mission, Reed felt a call to return to Tasmania. With his family he sailed to Launceston and settled at Mount Pleasant. Although he renovated Mount Pleasant making it the finest house in northern Tasmania, developed Wesley Dale and consolidated his other properties, his main concern was still evangelism. In 1875 he helped Rev. George Brown to establish the New Guinea Methodist Mission and bought for it the steam launch Henry Reed. In New Britain, Brown named Henry Reed Bay in his honour.
In Launceston he bought Parr’s Hotel to replace it with a mission church. The adjoining skittle alley was renovated and opened for worship in July 1876, and then the Memorial Church built on the site was completed in 1885 after his death, as were the near-by Dunorlan Cottages built in his memory to provide free housing with a sustenance allowance for elderly indigent women. He died at Mount Pleasant on 10 October 1880.
(M. S. E. Reed, Henry Reed: An Eventful Life Devoted to God and Man (Lond, 1907; Hudson Fysh, ‘Reed, Henry (1806 – 1880)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, Melbourne University Press, 1967, pp 371-372.)
This committed Christian and successful businessman, was moved by compassion for the poor and spiritually lost. His huge two-storey hall still stands on the site. Soon it could not hold the crowds, and the surrounding yard was covered with canvas to accommodate the overflow. Then the 1885 new church seating 1,200 persons was built for worship. But apart from worship, Sunday School classes, Gospel preaching and outreach to the city masses, this church provided financial help to the needy, low cost housing, meals for the poor from a soup kitchen, educational classes, and alcohol recovery work.
The tablet to his memory in the church reads:
“JESUS ONLY, MIGHTY TO SAVE”. HENRY REED
born October 28 1806, Doncaster, England.
“In early manhood after he protracted a deep conviction of sin, he found real rest through simple faith in Jesus, and being filled with zeal for God and compassion for souls, he proclaimed the glad tidings of salvation with mighty power wherever he went, turning many to righteousness.
“He was the friend of the prisoner, the poor and the afflicted. His later labours were devoted to the people of Tasmania where he founded the Christian Mission Church in 1877. And having fought the good fight, he finished his course with joy and entered into rest October 10th 1880.”
An inspiring life in the word and deed of the Gospel.
REV THE HON DR GORDON MOYES AC MLC
OUR MISSION TO THE CITY
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