Wesley Mission Strategic Planning
Staff Conference, Vision Valley, October 2004
Rev Dr The Hon. Gordon Moyes, A.C., M.L.C., B.A., D.D., D.LITT., LL.D., FRGS. FAIM., FAICD., MACE.
Wesley Mission has shown the way for nearly 200 years. Our vision of the future must be set in the context of our past. If we do not know from whence we have come, we have no reference points to guide us into the future.
The theme, “Showing The Way” was chosen by you who worked in the branding workshops on developing our new logo and theme. Our basic purpose is making God known, and our competitive values are our innovation, leadership and influence enabling us to keep our ambition, long ago achieved, of being the most influential word and deed church in Australia. Because many of the our one hundred most senior staff gathered here to help plan our future today are relatively new, and have never heard the background of some of our work, I want to speak of it, and to refresh the memories of those who have forgotten. Much of what I will say today is known to most; some of what I will say today is known only to one or two such as Dick Menteith and Dr Keith Suter, and the rest of what I will say today is known only to me, and I wish to have it placed on record, and within your minds.
SHOWING THE WAY FROM THE EARLIEST DAYS
We have shown the way since our earliest days. Wesley Mission is different from every other city church in the world. We began as a Methodist church when the majority of the people in our nation were male convicts who had been transported to this country, and more likely to curse God, the Church and this land, rather than sing a hymn.
Our earliest pioneers were a few farmers, free settlers, a school teacher, a few emancipated convicts, and some braver women who had come half way round the world to be with their husbands. Their children were born without any medical aid, their schooling was in the bush kitchen, and was fitted in between doing work on the farms.
We have shown the way in how we used our central city site in the heart of Australia’s major city.
Today our church home and head office is situated on two acres of prime land in the heart of Sydney Australia’s, Central Business District. The prime location is observable from all directions as being adjacent to Sydney Tower. On one side is the Hilton International Hotel and on the other side is the Hyde Park Sheraton Hotel. Wesley Mission does not look like a church. It looks like another hotel.
For one thing, it is larger than either of the other two international hotels. Then it is connected by walkways over Pitt Street and over Castlereagh Street so that there is movement between the adjacent major buildings. Furthermore, the Wesley Mission building has an up-market three storey shopping complex “Piccadilly” as part of its development on land owned by the church, and this opens into “David Jones”, one of Australia’s premier shopping stores.
Wesley Mission is a church in the context of business, tourism and commerce. It also is open every day of the week and has thousands of people each week entering its doors. Its theatre and convention centre was a finalist in the New South Wales Tourism Best Convention Centre competition 1995. Its restaurant is one of only thirty “Gold Licensed Restaurant” serving the public in Sydney. Its front of house staff are trained to a high standard. Its forty storeys of office space mark it as one of the city’s high-rise towers. This $300 million development does not look like a church.
Wesley Mission has shown the way in refusing, against church pressures, to confine itself to the CBD, and in insisting that a city church has a ministry to the whole city, and to the regions surround it, defying the traditions of parish limits and presbytery boundaries. For Wesley Centre is only the headquarters of Wesley Mission’s ministry. That is conducted in more than 450 other buildings round Sydney situated in more than 100 suburbs.
Wesley Mission has shown the way in that it has developed its tradition. We are an old Church.
Starting as Sydney Methodist Church in 1812, the peak of its ministry as a Central Methodist Mission came under the leadership of Rev Alan Walker (later Rev Dr Sir Alan Walker).
It is contended that this church would have declined as have every other Central Mission and Parish Mission in Australia except for a new series of principles that were to guide its future which resulted in phenomenal growth over the last twenty five years making it one of the world’s great churches. [1995 Industries Commission Into Charities, Report, Appendix C1 lists Australia’s largest 50 charities. Wesley Mission is listed after The Australian Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and World Vision in size, but these others are national organisations whereas Wesley Mission, Sydney is a NSW Church.
Wesley Mission has shown the way in the size of our growth. We are by far the largest Church in Australia in terms of income, assets, paid staff, volunteers, media outreach, service to the needy, and in the numbers of people attending its largest services annually, such as our Christmas special at Darling Harbour. For the last ten years we have added an additional four staff every week of the year. Over one eight year period, we opened a new building, or a new office once every four weeks.
We have shown the way in the uniqueness of our work. There are many great churches in the world. One in Seoul, [Yoida Island Full Gospel Church. Founder and current minister, Rev. Dr Paul (David) Yongi Cho.] Korea has more than half a million church members with an average attendance of 180,000 each Sunday. That church’s growth is built around 10,000 home groups where people are constantly witnessing to others.
In Nigeria, more than 80,000 people attend services emphasising the miraculous especially healing. At a Methodist Pentecostal Church in Santiago, Chile, more than 2,000 instruments form the orchestra. These are incredible churches built upon gathering large numbers of people to worship. [Details of world’s largest churches in: Towns E. “The Complete Book Of Church Growth” Tyndale 1981; Miles, D. “Church Growth: A Mighty River” Broadman 1981. ]
Also in Sydney is Hillsong, a church that was built on music and Pentecostal fervour, whose influence in worship styles has been world-wide.
Yet, Wesley Mission, in the heart of Sydney, Australia, has the widest ministry of any church anywhere in the world. This one church is responsible for a ministry of psychiatrists and hospitals dealing with the emotionally ill, with 400 people engaged in counselling the troubled and those in crisis, with speaking to the entire nation through television, radio, and film, Video and DVD and the internet, in building significant relationships with the larger businesses in the land, of providing beds and food for tens of thousands of people each year, of providing accommodation for more than 2, 000 people including babies, children, youth, families, and aged people every night of the year, in training hundreds of disabled people in social skills, and thousands of unemployed people in job skills, in nursing dying cancer victims and in caring for children with AIDS, in operating the largest nursing service in the nation providing registered nurses and personal care workers to public hospitals, nursing homes and private patients; in training hundreds of young adults in creative arts and ministry, in supporting the prisoner, confronting the politicians, teaching business management to corporate executives, and in serving a million meals a year to the needy and providing garments of clothing to those who cannot afford regular prices. Wesley Mission also packs pharmaceuticals, runs the largest citrus orchard in the nation, operates a commercial laundry for the Sydney University and many other clients, manufacturers metal household goods, runs three conference centres and many other kinds of work. [“Mission On: The Story of the World’s Most Amazing Mission” 1991.]
Wesley Mission has shown the way in its use of ministry areas in Wesley Centre, Pitt St. They were built at a cost of $40 million and were opened free of debt! There were thirtytwo opening celebrations attended by 35,000 people. (“Wesley Mission: 1991 Celebration Committee” Lance Reece WCM Publications.)
Wesley Mission has shown the way in terms of multiple worships service in one building. This one church expresses itself through fifty-five services of worship each week in many different languages including Japanese, Chinese, Samoan, Indonesian, Rotuman, including daughter churches in Spanish, Tongan and Fijian, reaching out to ethnic communities. It is vigorous in church planting and has planted more than a dozen daughter congregations. Unlike other churches who have planted new congregations, it does not include their statistics in its records. It conducts its ministry in more than 300 buildings in one hundred suburbs.
Wesley Mission has shown the way in the manner in which it has turned a state of near bankruptcy into strong financial assets. This one parish church has assets of hundreds of millions of dollars dedicated to the ministry of the poor and needy, more than any single parish in the nation, perhaps in the world! The 2004 Annual report, lists Wesley Mission’s assets as $334 million.
Wesley Mission has shown the way in speaking on social justice issues. Rev Dr Alan Walker made a name for himself in the way he attacked Governments for failing the people. Dr Keith Suter and the present Superintendent, speak on major social issues every week on radio and television. When this Church speaks on social issues, governments listen. Key personnel are on National and State Government Advisory Boards. We are the only church whose leader has regular and direct access to the Premier and the Prime Minister on any matter of concern. There are almost daily conversations with Cabinet ministers on issues affecting our members or the community at large.
Wesley Mission has shown the way by which hundreds of thousands of people enter the arenas of the ministry of Wesley Mission each year. Hundreds are pastors from across Australia and from around the world come to learn the church growth principles practised here and over 1,500 have attended the Summer Schools For Successful Ministry conducted by the Superintendent and his team. [“Impact” March ‘81. Sept ‘94;]
Wesley Mission has shown the way in using its church facilities for the community. Wesley Church is used increasingly for major State funerals, for weddings and other religious meetings such as for prayer by city-workers after 9/11.
Our major worship centre is the 1,000 seat Wesley Theatre. [“ Impact” Dec ‘91;] This theatre is the home of Wesley Mission’s larger congregations each Sunday and for many mid-week activities as a performing arts centre, especially at Easter and Christmas time. Wesley Theatre has a large stage and music podium suitable for orchestras and drama and dance, a baptistery built into a side wall, multiple-translation equipment, a wide screen for film, slide and video presentation and a state of the art, electronic computerised system for sound and lighting. The theatre has been used for the Australian Film Awards telecast live to the nation, the launch of a major political party’s national election campaign, for international conferences such as a five day conference attended by more than one thousand psychiatrists, another for the Royal College of Surgeons, for hundreds of shareholders meetings and by Ford Australia for the launch of 13 new Ford models, all displayed in the building.
Wesley Mission has shown the way in keeping its heritage. We have kept our vintage stained glass windows and restored our unique Christie Theatre Organ which is built high into a wall of Wesley Theatre. This theatre organ is renown across the nation. From the opposite glass wall, parents with small children can feel part of all services without the children disturbing the rest of the congregation. All the items of furniture for Sunday worship have been designed and constructed to fit the decor of the theatre. Every single item has been donated by church members and friends.
Wesley Mission has shown the way in incorporating its car-parking on 8 levels underneath its church. Outside the theatre doors, are 400 car parking spaces for worshippers, underground in the same area of land as Wesley Church and Wesley Theatre.
Wesley Mission has shown the way in which it has incorporated into its church building, a restaurant open to the public. In the main lobby of the theatre is a kiosk for refreshments, a parish kitchen for catering in the Smith room. Buffet meals have been provided to more than one thousand people at a time. Within our building are a score of telephone lines that have enabled ring-in personal counselling following the Superintendent’s national telecast and radio broadcast sermons, and for special financial appeals through the media.
Wesley Mission has shown the way in which a large church can use the internet, and our site is one of the most used church sites in the world. The Superintendent’s sermons are available weekly and are accessed by computer inquirers world-wide. (www.wesleymission.org.au). Thousands hit our website daily.
Wesley Mission has shown the way in designing facilities and meeting areas accompanied by open and spacious lounge areas in which visitors can relax. The whole Wesley Centre is accessible by the disabled through lifts, escalators and ramps.
Wesley Mission has shown the way in which it has used the air overhead. Above all of these levels is the office tower. At the lowest level we have the offices of Wesley Conference Centre, the Bookshop and pastoral conference rooms and four breakout rooms for conferences. On the third floor, are Wesley Mission’s Pastoral Department, IT Department, the computer network which links 2000 computers to the head office and facilities for E-mail, salaries and wages, financial reporting and the like intranet. On the third floors are also large rooms, each capable of seating over a hundred. These are class rooms for the 1,500 members of the School For Seniors, run by the church for people over 50 years, our Japanese speaking congregation, Sunday School, our High School age Worship, adult classes and our Chinese and English Library.
On another level are the offices of about one hundred senior staff of the Church, covering the church’s ministry in more than four hundred other buildings across the city and State, including the tenth floor of Piccadilly Building next door which houses our projects team, Occupational Health and Safety, volunteers, and others.
Wesley Mission has shown the way in which it has built up a huge paid and volunteer workforce. We have over three thousand one hundred and fifty paid staff who minister on behalf of the congregation. Beside them are more than three thousand five hundred volunteers, all of whom have undertaken some training. Our Vocational and Community Service training programs, every year conduct staff training for over 3000 people from Wesley and other organisations.
Wesley Mission has shown the way in which it has adapted to changing community needs. From 1812 to 1884 our church grew, flourished and then declined. By 1883 there were only 18 members and great debts. The conference was urged to close the old church. At a crucial Methodist Conference in 1884, when the decision was being taken to close the church, a last minute effort was made to save it by granting it a reprieve of one year. The Rev W.G.Taylor, a young evangelist, but with indifferent health, was appointed. [W.G.Taylor, “The Life Story Of An Australian Evangelist” Epworth Press London 1920. pp127–140 Wright, D. “The Mantle of Christ” p24 — 100; “Impact” May ‘86;]
He chose a new name, a new slogan, and a new policy for the church. The name chosen was Central Methodist Mission. ‘A Living Christ for a Dying World’ was the slogan. The policy was unceasing evangelism to convert men and women to Jesus Christ and a commitment to the word and deed [This phrase has become part of Wesley Mission’s philosophy of ministry. It is frequently found in its writings. “Impact” Oct ‘83;] of the gospel together to serve the needs of men. It established a pattern of passionate evangelism and compassionate service to the needy, — the Gospel in word and deed.
Revival was experienced and within one year every one of the 1800 seats in the old church was filled. A new home for the Central Methodist Mission was found by Rev W.G.Taylor, who persuaded one of his members, the Hon. Ebenezer Vickery, M.L.C., to centralise the Church’s activities to the Lyceum Hall in 1905. The Lyceum Hall was purchased for the Mission by Vickery and has remained the centre of its administration and preaching. It remained until rebuilt on the same site and opened as Wesley Centre in 1993. The “Lyceum” continues in the new Wesley Centre. [Shirley, G. and Adams, B. “Australian Cinema: The First Eighty Years” Angus & Robertson Rev. Ed. 1983. p7,28–44, p138.] This vaudeville theatre was set between two brothels and a hotel, which were also purchased by the church. It was making a statement that it was desiring to minister in the heart of down-town Sydney, among the most needy people. The Lyceum Hall, which had screened the first Lumiere productions in 1896, became Australia’s first theatre to produce and screen Australian feature films under Cozens Spencer, became a centre for the growth of the Australian film industry prior to 1920, screened the first “talkie” (“The Jazz Singer” with Al Johlson) in 1928, and Australia’s first big box office hit “The Flying Doctor” in 1939.
Many other famous films were premiered in The Lyceum up until 1988. Through all of this time, the Lyceum was owned by Wesley Mission who used it for its church services on a Sunday, and for special mid-week events. We re-built it four times in the century as a cinema and a place of worship.
Wesley Mission has shown the way in adding social services to its worship activities. By 1890, alongside a vigorous evangelistic activity, the new work flourished, and within the next 20 years a seamen’s mission, a work among alcoholics, a home for waifs and strays, an evangelists’ training institute, a home for sisters of the poor, a home for destitute children, a medical institute for the treatment of inebriates, and a home for friendless and fallen girls, were all established. Around the world throughout the British Empire, churches in large cities adopted this vigorous pattern of ministry to the needy centred round large preaching halls or theatres. [W.G.Taylor, op. cit. p140]
Wesley Mission has shown the way in the manner in which it has reacted to tragedies. New life again came to the mission when the old Lyceum Theatre was burnt out, leaving only its walls standing in 1964. By 1966, under the dynamic leadership of Rev Alan Walker a new Lyceum Theatre and Wesley Centre was opened, providing a great fellowship centre to cope with the loneliness of modern living. [A. Walker, “A Ringing Call To Mission” Abingdon 1966 p52ff.]
Here the work of evangelism and service to the needy has continued without interruption except for a smaller fire and subsequent rebuilding in 1981 under the leadership of Rev Gordon Moyes.
Then in 1987, after almost ten years of discussion, meetings, and planning, the entire property was demolished and the building of the new Wesley Centre was begun. In the meantime, the congregations worshipped for three years in temporary premises in the Plaza Theatre (the last of the “Picture Palaces” built in 1929) and surrounding buildings at 600 George Street. [“Impact” Dec ‘88; Annual Report 1989.] Staff accommodation and total parish facilities were built in almost an entire block of nearby buildings adapted to be a “church in the wilderness”. This process cost several million dollars. But during this “wilderness experience”, the average attendance at worship increased by more than a thousand people each week. [Moyes, G.K., “Mission On” Edition 1984 pbb; Edition 1991 p9–13. Moyes, G.K. (Ed) “Impact” August, October 1988.]
Even in “the wilderness” Australia’s unique Church-in-a-Theatre continued its public ministry. The gospel message has been proclaimed every week despite the rebuilding. The membership of Wesley Mission increased and further homes, hospitals and agencies expressing its social concern were also built including three great retirement Villages.
Wesley Mission has shown the way in how the dream became a reality. Many people have dreams, but they amount to nothing but dreams. Wesley Mission turned dreams into buildings, staff, members and programs. In 1977, the Central Methodist Mission became part of the Uniting Church in Australia, and for the third time in its history [Wright, D. “The Mantle Of Christ” This is the definitive history of Wesley Mission from its beginning. “Mission On” 1894. “Impact” May ‘82; Mar ‘84; May ‘84; Oct ‘84; Dec ‘84;] changed its name.
In 1977 we became known as Wesley Central Mission, later, Wesley Mission.
In the same year a new superintendent was named, and Rev Gordon Moyes of Melbourne, came to carry on the work that had been accomplished by earlier superintendents. Since his coming the work has expanded into more than one hundred suburbs of Sydney where in more than 450 centres, programs and services, the ministry of practical care for the needy is expressed.
He accepted the appointment in 1977, but spent all of 1978 in preparation before shifting to Sydney. In this time he wrote a 150,000 word thesis describing what he intended to accomplish in this ministry, “TRANSFORMING THE CITY CHURCH”. [Moyes, G.K. “Transforming the City Church”. (unpublished) U.T.C. Library. “Impact” Feb ‘79; Mar ‘79 Mar ‘84; Mar ‘85; May ‘87; ]
Wesley Centre, built in 1966, had become the hub of the Mission’s growing pastoral and head office activities. By 1979 Rev Gordon Moyes was seeing it in a new light: a wonderful facility which still had over a million dollars of debt owing on it, was facing large maintenance costs, and was a facility standing in the way of a more efficient use of the land.
From the height of the new Sydney Tower at Centrepoint in 1980, Rev Gordon Moyes looked down on the property of Wesley Mission and the newly formed Synod of the Uniting Church in New South Wales, and realised that what was needed was the complete removal of The Mission Settlement Building, the removal of Wesley Chapel, the removal of Wesley Arcade of shops and Christian enterprises, and the removal of the recently rebuilt Lyceum Theatre and Wesley Centre, at that time the finest church complex in the Southern Hemisphere and the total rebuilding of the whole site with expanded facilities! This was a daring insight. Stan Manning, Richard Menteith and John Bush were our key staff in this development.
This meant a project that would alter the skyline of the city of Sydney. It would mean the construction of a massive complex using the air-space above the total site (51,000 square feet) in such proportions (12:1 Floor Space Ratio) that the new development would be large enough (686,000 square feet), when leased, to provide the total cost of the Mission’s portion of the construction. It was a grand vision. During its construction it would be the largest building enterprise in the city. [Hely & Horne, Stuart and Perry. “Piccadilly Plaza” Design Concept. August 1983]
The initial projection of the cost was one hundred million dollars, an astronomical sum, but before the decade was over this sum would have risen four times. What would be accomplished on that site would not be at the expense of other developments, for Wesley Mission was to simultaneously embark on the most ambitious building program ever to be undertaken by any church in the world.
Another one hundred million dollars of land acquisition, of buildings and the construction of new facilities would be undertaken in twenty years of continuous growth in a huge expansion and renovation program in other areas of the church’s ministry.
New initiatives in evangelism would be undertaken across the nation by television and radio, new missionary [“Impact” Dec ‘89; Mar ‘90; May ‘90; Aug ‘90; Dec ‘90; May ‘91; Oct ‘91; Sept ‘92; Dec ‘92; May ‘93; July, ‘94; Dec ‘94; July ‘95; Sept ‘95; Oct ‘95; ] support in USSR, India, Bangladesh, new programs of support for village life in the Philippines and Africa and India would be undertaken, and more than two hundred new services for the poor and needy would be established. All of these would require additional property, the appointment of new staff, and a sustained fund-raising program beyond what had ever been attempted by a church before.
Wesley Mission is proud of its history [Wright, D. “Mantle of Christ: A history of the Sydney Central Methodist Mission” University of Queensland Press. 1984.], and gives thanks to God for the successful completion of all these major works, without any residual debt, and at the height of its power looks forward to serving the needs of the community and witnessing to Jesus Christ. The ministry of this single church is so wide-spread that few people ever get to see it. In two hundred suburbs, and a hundred regional, rural and inter-state areas. Yet everything it does is according to careful strategy and Biblical precedent as it seeks to minister in both Word and deed. Its philosophy of care [“Impact” Feb ‘79; Mar ‘79; May ‘81; Feb ‘83; Aug ‘85; Dec ‘85; Oct ‘86; Aug ‘86; May ‘87; Dec ‘88; May ‘89; Aug ‘89; May ‘90; Oct ‘90; Oct ‘91; ] is continually spelled out to staff and members to remind people of the basis of its work. Its development has been due to the applications of Church Growth principles out-lined in the proposal “Transforming the City Church.”
SHOWING THE WAY
I will show how Wesley Mission has shown the way in a random selection of activities which have each in their own way, demonstrated leadership, innovation, and effective service to people.
Rev W.G.Taylor has shown the way by adapting a cinema as our main area for worship. Although we built in recent times Wesley Church with all the ecclesial accoutrements required for contemporary worship, we have always maintained a theatre as a plain place for plain people. We wanted ordinary people, non-Christian people, people from off the streets, to feel at home. And it works. Every Sunday afternoon, church greeters speak to people on the busy city footpath and invite them to come back to the evening service. About a dozen or more such people every week, enter our church in a theatre for the first time and feel at home. This is footpath evangelism.
Wesley Mission has shown the way in its use of media: we were the first church to set up its own multi-million dollar Film Company financed entirely by investors to make over forty documentary films in the Mediterranean and Middle East, all of which have been screened in a dozen countries and watched by millions. We became the first and so far the only local church, to convince a major network to allow us to make a weekly national television program at their expense which has now been running for a record breaking 27 years.
Wesley Mission has shown the way in how to raise funds from the media without asking for them. Although constantly opposed and berated by the church bureaucracy for purchasing Radio Station 2GB, we can demonstrate conclusively, that over the past 17 years, our presence on radio has been responsible for bringing to Wesley Mission in over $30 million in bequests and estates alone.
Wesley Mission has shown the way in care for families and children. The earliest examples of care for children were when ship loads of orphaned children were brought from England and Ireland to Woolloomooloo docks at a time when the colony had no infrastructure of care. Those children became labourers on our newly established farms of grain and sheep. Care for homeless children, and the sailors whose passage ended in Sydney and whalers off-season were among our first examples of care. The financial crises in the colony ended this work until it was recommenced in the 1880’s. We were innovators in the cottages build especially to care for children in a family setting. In 1893 a four roomed house in Woolloomalloo was followed by the Children’s Home in Dalmar Street Burwood, then in the 1920’s with our Carlingford site with its many large cottages, right down until the 1980’s when we sere still buying cottages for out of home care for children. Later, our family Services were to grow into more than 35 programs, from the south to the North and to the West of Sydney, until last year we served 3,600 children.
Wesley Mission showed the way in 1892 with our Medical Institute in Sir John Young Crescent near St Mary’s Cathedral. This was a radical centre for the treatment of alcoholism which consisted of hypodermic injections of concentrated vegetable compounds and daily doses of tonic. This treatment also included mega doses of vitamins. 310 people took the treatment from all walks of life. The work was widely praised in the daily press. But, while many cures were claimed about 30% of patients were regarded as failures. But in time this Medical Institute was followed by our three hospitals and half a dozen out patient day care centres for mental, sexual, trauma, and eating disorders.
Wesley Mission showed the way in adult education. Many staff immediately think of the School for Seniors with its 1500 students on our city and Central Coast campuses. But in 1889 three young men started studies in our Evangelists Institute. Over the next eighty years over half the ministers in the Methodist Church in NSW trained in the Evangelist’s institute. Gradually Leigh College was established by the NSW Methodist Church, and our Institute underwent a number of evolutions. After training 200 men for ministry, it saw it’s role in the preliminary training of young men for theological college. In 1972, it changed its name under a new Principal Rev Fred Nile, and it became the Jesus Institute, dedicated to training young people in radical forms of street evangelism. When the flower power generation grew up, it evolved into the International Christian Leadership College with students every year from a dozen Pacific and Asian countries.
In 1988, I accepted the vision of Dr David Johnston to make it into a centre of training for ministry and the arts. Today Wesley Institute has international recognition.
For example, last Sunday, the Counselling Department of Wesley Institute made a presentation at my request to our Aldersgate Fellowship. Everybody was stunned by the vivid photographs and spoken presentation by the team about the work they have just finished in counselling victims and training counsellors in Sudan and from Kenya and Uganda who work among the kidnapped, rapped and mutilated people from the terrorist attacks which have murdered hundreds of thousands and raped and mutilated hundreds of thousands more. Women have had their noses and ears cut off, children have been violated and mutilated and often forced to kill their own relatives and neighbours. Their physical, mental and spiritual conditions are appalling.
Led by Dr Graham Barker, a team of counsellors, raised over a $100,000 and went to the area, and conducted counselling training for more than one hundred people involved in helping their fellows, and counselled many individuals. This is one of the most important projects I have ever heard Australians being involved in, and our Wesley Institute trained volunteers led the way. They have been invited to return next year, and I would hope our most experienced Life Line Counsellors will also go.
Wesley Institute is advancing on all fronts. We have been discovered internationally. We currently have students from 30 countries, and next semester have over 60 Americans arriving as well as from, other countries. We have an amazing qualified faculty who between them have earned 37 PhD.’s as well as many other doctorates in psychology, education, theology and other disciplines. No other educational institution in the Uniting Church has such a large and a qualified faculty. We currently have over 90 full time students studying Bachelor of Theology degrees, with most of the lectures being given in Korean. We also will be supplying all ministry students in English who are seeking to study for ministry in the Uniting Church with free tuition in order to fulfill the request of the Assembly for a greater diversity in ministry training and the desire for evangelical Uniting Churches to have our graduates as minister. Ministerial training is changing, and with our emphasis of training ministers in the same institution as trains people in drama, radio and television presentation, dancing, the visual arts, counselling and psychology, and over three thousand other students in vocational and community services, we are on the cutting edge far in advance of any other training institution in the nation — and we do it internationally and interdenominationally. All other institutions look very old fashioned and locked into a nineteenth century paradigm.
Wesley Mission showed the way in helping people into employment. The first was the Department of Labour Exchange. Established in Woolloomooloo, the Department taught people how to mend their boots, gave them cheap meals and training for a new job. This Department eventually became known by its initials: DOLE. In 1993 I addressed a combined meeting of all Liberal Party Federal members and Senators on better ways of helping the unemployed. I proposed an idea originally offered to the Labor Party but they rejected it and my other ideas for improving Australia’ Social Health. One idea was what I called “Workfare” a concept where unemployed people needed to demonstrate come community activity in return for unemployment benefits. The then shadow treasurer, John Howard, pounced on the idea: and called out “Work for the Dole”. The name stuck, and so did the idea. Today we operate a number of successful work for the dole projects.
Wesley Mission is today a leading trainer of people to work in the aged care, social welfare, creative arts, disabilities, child care, homeless and many other industries. Many people think only of our training of counselors at Life Line, or the 1,500 students in School For Seniors, or our own staff training programs or our Wesley Uniting Employment Centres across the state. But one of our most effectives areas of work is Wesley Learning and Development, an important work with offices in 26 O’Connell St City and at Wesley Institute, Vocational and Community Education. This work has an income of over $2 million a year, employs thirteen staff and has two thousand six hundred students and clients in one hundred courses. Wesley Learning and Development trains people in literacy and numeracy, traineeships in many areas such as office administration, tourism sales, hospitality, childcare, horticulture, landscaping, assistants in nursing, apprenticeships and a whole range of other courses. Our graduates such as those who graduated as aides in nursing who were all successful in gaining employment by the close of their training move easily into the work force. A vision I have is for us training such people for Uniting Church aged care centres throughout Australia. Our work has quality accreditation and a take-up rate that is among the best in the nation which places us apart from every other church training program.
Our team won a $95,000 contract to extend training programs among indigenous people. The training programs of Aboriginal childcarers were remarkably successful. We held the graduation in Wesley Centre and I was deeply moved as I heard of these previously unemployed people tell of how they were now in demand.
There is a changing face to employment in Australia more part time work, more women in the work force, more demand for skills, more concern about employees entitlement being safeguarded and these are the issues raised by Jesus in one of His most amazing parables: (Matthew 20:1–16). The best way to help people out of welfare dependence and low self-esteem is to see them graduating in training and entering the workforce.
Wesley Mission showed the way in work among the Homeless, the drug addicted, the street kids. Wesley Mission has, in some of the most controversial and experimental activities endeavoured to meet the needs of teenagers in the city streets. [“Inpact” Mar ‘92; “From Standover Man to Saint.” A contemporary Charlie Woodward “The Story of My Conversion” Central Press, Sydney. c1918. Taylor, W.G. “Life Story of an Australian Evangelist” Epworth 1920]
Often wandering without their parents’ knowledge, engaged in sexual and drug experiences that would horrify other members of their suburban community, the teenagers of the city streets present a group of people in a sub-culture that very few churches in the world are able to reach.
Since its inception, Wesley Mission has cared for teenagers, but the work has never been as tough as in the 1990’s. Such work requires a multi- disciplinary, multi-faceted approach. Youthline [“Impact” Dec ‘81; July ‘82; Mar ‘83; Aug ‘84; Dec ‘85; Mar ‘86; Mar ‘87; Oct ‘90;] was developed as a youth to youth telephone counselling service. Its major task is responding to crisis calls from troubled teens. Dozens of trained counsellors under the age of thirty were assigned shifts to be ready at whatever the hour or day to receive such calls.
Another front-line contact point, was StreetSmart [“Impact” Dec ‘89; Mar ‘90; Oct ‘90; Dec ‘90; Dec ‘92; July ‘94; Dec ‘94; July ‘94; “Frontlines” # 4 ‘95;]. StreetSmart is a street-front welfare counselling centre opened by Sydney’s Central Station — the starting point of many who are heading for the streets. The centre offers personal counselling, an accommodation service, free food and clothing and can also assist with medical and legal matters. It is open when the kids are on the streets and its street workers patrol the streets when the rest of the city is in bed.
It’s decor makes the kids feel at home — and some of them should, for they were responsible. When the Mission was making StreetSmart ready for service, they felt something was wrong — it was too clean! So they hired a gang of graffiti artists to paint it the way it should look. This centre sees more healings than a public hospital and is the means of miracles in family restitutions. This work is today reduplicated in the Hunter.
Drug Arm [“Impact” Mar ‘94; Dec ‘95; “Frontlines” #2, ‘95;] is another point of contact with youth abusing drugs and alcohol. We established six vans, fully equipped and driven by teams of trained volunteers, fan at night into areas frequented by large numbers of teenagers who are known to abuse alcohol [“Impact” July ‘80; Dec ‘92; Dec ‘93; Sept ‘93; Dec ‘93; July ‘94; Dec ‘93;] and drugs. The vans carry supplies of hot chocolate and coffee, free food, and counsellors who gain the trust and respect from the young people by their caring attitude and listening ears. They provide literature, mobile phones, counselling about problems concerning family relationships, drug abuse and medical symptoms. From the face to face contacts, further appointments are established the following day to implement the decisions discussed. The counsellors — at their height numbering over 400 — are a primary contact point with youth abusing drugs.
One interesting point, is that off-duty Christian police see this as a plains clothes commitment to youth they can make, and have adopted Drug-Arm by training volunteers and in being team leaders on the Drug-arm vans, especially in tough areas like Blacktown. The Superintendent was been the inaugural National President for six years.
Having been contacted by telephone or street vans, many young people at risk require accommodation that is secure and run by trained staff who are able to meet their needs. Cottee Lodge is one of a series of youth refuges which offer low cost or no cost emergency accommodation to homeless young people aged between fourteen and nineteen. [“Impact” March ‘80; Mar ‘83;] Live-in Youth Workers provide assistance with family problems and in finding permanent accommodation.
This was followed by Stepping Stone [“Impact” Dec ‘89; Mar ‘90; Sept ‘95] run in conjunction with Cottee Lodge and provides a 12 month program for homeless young people. Residents are given the chance to build their self-esteem as the house makes regular camping trips into the wilderness of the most remote areas of Australia, or where the youth spend four weeks aboard a tall-masted sailing ship to assist personal development, and to teach them the values of inter-dependence. The staff, themselves tough and fit, take every opportunity to provide the strong witness of muscular Christianity. This work was passed over to an effective committee of lawyers who committed themselves to funding this program.
Teenage Independence Training is a unique training program providing long- term accommodation and counselling for under-confident young people both in Sydney, Ashfield and the Central Coast. They may be leaving foster care or their own home or may be referred by a refuge as a run-away. These kids are not going to make it without help. So for a year or more they live in one of the Mission’s houses and are taught the basic skills required in getting a job, caring for themselves, using their money, and finding a suitable place for themselves on the face of the earth. This is often a thankless preventative work, but hundreds of ordinary citizens now live decent family lives, because at a crucial time in their own lives Wesley Mission was there to help them gain the skills to make it on their own.
Wesley Mission showed the way in developing week long programs for underprivileged kids at Vision Valley and Mangrove Mountain Retreat through our Operation Hope. Mangrove Mountain and Vision Valley offers for youth a break from their present activity with an adventure camp with canoeing, horse riding, swimming, bush-walking and abseiling with Christian leadership, all designed to build self-esteem. The consequences in changed lives is outstanding. Our Homes for Hope fundraising program has generated $2 million to help such programs.
Young people of our church congregations are concerned not only with these forms of outreach to city kids, but with their own strong educational, musical, camping and spiritual growth programs. High School and University groups meet weekly in a score of home groups. There are scores of home groups organised under the guidance of the Mission’s Youth Ministers.
Wesley Mission showed the way in the development of telephone counselling. Alan Walker put the problems of people with the telephone coming in directly to teams of trained counsellors and the newspapers called it a “Life Line”. The name stuck, and four million people in time of dire need have since called Life Line. Today, there are a score of helplines available, but there was only one in the beginning, and once again Wesley Mission was showing the way.
Wesley Mission showed the way, when we followed up some research I did in the late 1970’s. I predicted that people would be unable to control their spending on the new plastic credit cards that were being made available. In 1979, we set up Credit Line, and started off a new program of financial counselling that has swept the country, with thousands of financial counsellors being helped by Wesley Mission’s Credit Line. Today more people are helped by our Credit Line than by our Life Line. Again, we were the first and showed the way.
Wesley Mission showed the way in settling up the first full time problem gambling counsellors. When we began in the middle eighties, no-one could fore see the problem that gambling was going to become with licensed poker machine multiplying, and casinos and pubs all becoming havens for gamblers. In the earliest days, no one helped us, but today State Government regulations and the Casino Benefit Trust fund gambling counsellors all over the nation. But we showed the way.
Wesley Mission showed the way with our Life Force Suicide Prevention service aimed at reducing the numbers of suicides each year. We have been dramatically successful at reducing youth suicides. We are going to the areas where the problem is worst, and we have set up prevention teams in more than 1000 communities across Australia. Other organisations are now doing suicide prevention, but Wesley Mission was the first. We showed the way.
Wesley Mission showed the way when Rev Bill Adams returned from America, and introduced to our Church the concept of daily classes for people over 50. The School for Seniors now has 1,500 students and the School has been copied everywhere, but we were the first, and we showed the way.
Wesley Mission showed the way when it introduced an eating disorders program to help mainly young women suffering from anorexia and bulimia. We are now acknowledged that under the leadership of Professor Peter Beaumont, our eating disorders program is the best in the world, and we received acknowledged from the world Conference of Psychiatrists meeting in London. Others have followed throughout the world, but Wesley Mission showed the way.
Wesley Mission showed the way with two other groups of people in special domiciles that should be mentioned. Prisoners [“Impact” Oct ‘80; Feb ‘82; Oct ‘83; Mar ‘86; Aug ‘88; Mar ‘89; Sept ‘93;] and their families have been the concern of Wesley Mission since the days of convict New South Wales. In the 1980’s Wesley Mission supported a number of programs to assist prisoners and their families while they were in jail and also on their release. A very vigorous program of support for prison reform was undertaken and a public tender to design, construct and run the first private prison in NSW was submitted to the Government by Wesley Mission. The Government viewed the application sympathetically, but the Uniting Church Synod Board of Social Responsibility felt the church’s role should be limited to chaplains attending to prisoners spiritual needs. The whole concept of rehabilitation within the prison system by the Mission was rejected by Synod and a ban placed upon any part of the church seeking to be involved with the prison system. This was a bad decision reflecting limited thinking.
Wesley Mission showed the way in ministering to refugees. In 1979, boat-people from Vietnam began to land near Darwin. Many were children whose parents were killed by pirates who plundered their boats on the China Sea. These orphans from Lao, Khmer and Vietnamese parents were in desperate need. In an almost overnight miracle, enough furniture, clothing school and health requisites for up to forty young refugee [Executive Minutes Apr ‘82; Nov ‘82; Dec ‘82; “Impact” Dec ‘79; Oct ‘80; Dec ‘80; Dec ‘81; May ‘82; Mar ‘83.] boys was gathered and the old Francis Street Mens Hostel was cleaned, painted and renovated as a youth hostel. English classes, school classes, sporting activities, and social functions were organised for our 28 refugees. The Federal Government declined to assist in their care and the financial burden upon the Mission was great. In March 1983, the last 6 boys transferred at a Mission house at Abbotsford. All who desired to enter University had completed HSC and done so. Others commenced their own business in automotive transmission repair and in restaurants.
Wesley Mission showed the way with other groups of people who find their domicile at Wesley Mission for short or longer terms. These include several hundred disabled people , the alcoholic, the mentally ill, the severely physically disabled and the frail aged homeless.
Wesley Mission showed the way in providing answers for increasing number of homeless women [“Impact” July ‘95; “Frontlines” #3, ‘95;] in the community. In one year, 23,000 attempting to gain a place in one of the seven women’s refuges were turned away! Wesley Mission has been very active in providing homes for women at risk, particularly at Grace Manor.
I often get asked in Parliament what is the true picture of homelessness. There are some signs of encouragement. There has been a small fall in the numbers of homeless people in NSW, 3,000 since the 1996 census to 26,676 people. NSW has most of the homeless young people and children, 6,249. Across Australia there are over 5,000 children in refuges and other supported accommodation services; 3,000 in improvised dwellings; 4,000 with relatives and 1,300 in boarding houses. NSW also has 30% of the national numbers of marginal dwellers in caravan parks and boarding houses.
Grace Manor, accommodated 12 women and Turnaround accommodated 25 men. In the first seven months of operation, 27 men left the Turnaround Program, 21 of whom moved into independent living. Two women moved into independent living from Grace Manor, and now have regular access to their children. Wesley Community Housing provides supported accommodation for 239 persons in 21 locations across Sydney. 32 clients attended training courses and 56 obtained full time and part time employment. We also support the Sudanese Settlement Services with short-term accommodation as we do with the St George Community Housing and Ryde/Hunters Hill Community Housing. Many of our homeless people are members of our own Church of the Homeless, while others have joined the Bardwell Park Uniting Church, Newtown Mission, our six Community Housing Bible study groups. Some have become members of the Campbelltown Church of Christ, two of our clients have become commissioned members of the Salvation Army and one former client is now a deacon at the Yagoona Baptist Church. It is a very positive picture of service.
Wesley Mission showed the way in Aged Care providing accommodation for over 1,000 aged people in eight aged care centres. [1995 November Monthly Senior Staff and Board report. “ Impact” May ‘81; May ‘82; July ‘82; May ‘88; Oct ‘90; ] Wesley Mission continues to place strong emphasis upon its historic role of ministering to the financially disadvantaged. Few churches anywhere in the world provide such a vast array of accommodation for the poor regardless of race or religion. During the 1980’s and early 1990’s, Wesley Mission spent almost one hundred million dollars of the construction of three villages. Now, in 2005, another $80 million will be spent in additional buildings. [Executive Minutes July ‘82; Superintendents Report: July ‘82; Sept ‘82; Nov ‘82; Dec ‘82; June ‘83; July ‘83; Sept ‘83; Nov ‘83; “Impact” Oct ‘85;] for the aged.
Wesley Mission shows the way in providing services to the frail, the aged and the disabled in their own homes. Every day over 300 nurses and personal care workers start their cars and head for the list of homes they will visit to care for our clients. This area of work, now including advanced nursing care is as large as all our other residential work.
Wesley Mission showed the way in our new Family Make Over. We brought together a wide variety of our resources to create a multiple resource, cohesive program to work with dysfunctional families whose multiple problems require a total response. Wesley Mission plans to spend 168 hours every week for nine months with families in what will be the most intensive and extensive intervention according to family need, ever in Australia’s history. The families will lives in two and three bedroom apartments in Cartwright, Sydney, New South Wales. It is called the Noreen Towers Community, a large-scale community consisting of extensive lawns and gardens, three two-storey blocks of accommodation each with eight 2 & 3 bedroom units. There is also a Family Makeover Centre, which consists of a new hall, stage and kitchen, which will become the focal point for many of the group activities and training programs. Small rooms are also available for private consultation.
The aim of the Family Makeover Centre is to take in damaged, at risk, homeless, single parent families and help them to discover skills for independent living in the community. Multiple resources will be made available to cover each area of disadvantage. There is maximum accommodation capacity of up to 60 persons in this community.
The management of the Wesley Mission Family Makeover Centre will be by Wesley Mission Community Services using resources from our Wesley Uniting Employment & Wesley Homeless Persons Services, with other resource personnel being used in specialist activities. Each person will be living in a family unit, which we will furnish, if required. Each family is supplied with a gift of a computer with Internet access because the teaching of family members to become computer literate is part of the total program. Wesley Mission will use its benevolent and charitable organizations to provide whatever welfare needs the family might have, and specialist teams from our medical and psychiatric, counselling and family support services as required.
In the Makeover Centre there will be continuous programs conducted over the nine-month period. This will include the establishment of an Alcoholics Anonymous group for those people for whom this is appropriate. There are quite a number of people in the local surrounding community who would also come in for this program. There will be a series of other programs run by other competent trained personnel over the nine months including programs developing self esteem, credit and financial counselling, very strong program of mental health services including professional psychological interventions using Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy as is required. There are other programs as concerning Gambling Counselling, training in Child Protection issues, Family Values and Parenting Models, using the resources of Wesley Counselling Services and Wesley Child and Family Services.
One difficulty often found is finding a way to motivate family members to gain such help. We have also thought of that. These families will be encouraged to attend whatever program has been worked out with this by our case-managers. Both children and parents can earn credit points by attendance, which can be redeemed towards significant family holidays. I will be approaching travel firms for some holiday sponsorships.
It is an important part of our total program that every family upon leaving the program will have an appropriate family member employed. To this end Wesley Uniting Employment will provide the skills training and process each person to enable them to get suitable jobs.
These are aspects of our Word and deed ministry. Underlying all the work the Church does is the philosophy that in God’s eyes, every person has lasting worth. Caring for people, is a matter of obedience to the love, care and concern of Jesus for mankind.
Wesley Mission has always said that at the Lord’s Table were the symbols of bread and wine representing the sacrament, but there was also the towel and the basin representing the service to which Christ calls His people. The church must serve the needs of others. A full understanding of the church includes the spoken word, the preaching and teaching of the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus, the encounter with Jesus Christ, and the expression of Christian faith in the loving service to all people without distinction. That is the witness of proclamation, fellowship and service. Wesley Mission does not believe that words of worship alone are sufficient, but deeds of service are required.
Most new developments have come about because only one or two individuals have thought of better ways to proclaiming the Word and doing the deed of the Gospel. Many other carry out the plans, but the hard yards are done by very few in leadership.
This strategic planning meeting is aiming to involve over a hundred middle managers in the process of innovative thinking and strategic planning towards new advances. I wish you well, and thank you for your efforts.
Rev Dr The Hon. Gordon Moyes, A.C.. M.L.C..
Full Annual reports, financial statements and statistics, are to be found on our website.