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Church of Christ in Australasia

By J.J. Haley

      It will be necessary in this brief history of Churches of Christ on the other side of the world to group them under the larger territorial title, including Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania. These countries are islands of the Pacific and Indian Oceans lying in the Southern Hemisphere and constituting a part and a very important part, of the dominions of his Majesty, King Edward the Seventh.

      Since the federal union of the Australian colonies of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, they are spoken of in current parlance as states, but for the purposes of this sketch it will generally be convenient to refer to them as colonies. It has been under the regime of colonial administration that these churches have been established, nourished, and brought to their present proportions, and for a long time to come, doubtless, they will be known as colonial churches. Their ecclesiastical usages and doctrinal views will be sufficiently developed in the story herein to be told of their origin and growth. It will be seen from these narratives that the theology of the Australasian churches corresponds in all essential respects with that of Alexander Campbell and the American brotherhood, and that their preaching of first principles is the same that we are familiar with in this country; but the fact appears, on the other hand, that their ecclesiology is somewhat different, being more nearly conformed to the usages of the Scotch Baptists.


      The "Scotch Baptists" were the first known immersionists to establish themselves in the Colony of South Australia. They, after sundry changes of site in Adelaide, settled down in "Pise" or plastered mud room in Morphett Street, Adelaide, and from this gathering our pioneers were evolved. The father of the celebrated Dr. McLaren, of Manchester, formerly presided over this church, and as subsidiary helps to him, Thomas Niel and Philip Santo. Other pioneers who were less prominent, were Mrs. Philip Santo, James C. Verco and wife, Amos Armour, Mrs. Henry Hussey, Miss Colsie Proctor, afterwards Mrs. Armour, and Thomas Magarey. Baptisms were conducted strictly on apostolic lines by stress of circumstances, the river Torrens being availed of for the purpose. The doctrines of this church being distinctly and strongly "Calvinistic" soon became distasteful to the "rising generation" who had not been indoctrinated with these dogmas, and the result was discussion and friction.

      Thos. Magarey may be regarded as the prime mover in the dislocation of affairs, he having imbibed reformation views through intercourse with a Brother Jackson, of New Zealand. Expounding those views led to his being treated with scant courtesy, his expositions being regarded as "denying the Holy Spirit," "blasphemy" and "baptismal regeneration." The free discussion of these matters led to further investigation, and the quiet persistency of the innovator produced that change which finally eventuated in the withdrawal of our pioneers.

      An edifice of stone was erected in Franklin Street.

      As the cause grew in this building, we begin to find the names of other worthy veterans appearing. Philip Messent, George [115]

      During the currency of the latter events herein before enumerated the cause was also quietly working its way in other parts of the colony under the direction of pioneers, some of whose names have not even been mentioned as yet, but also subsequently attained to high prominence in the Brotherhood.

      In 1847 a small band of brethren from the churches at Beith and New Mills, Ayrshire, Scotland, emigrated to South Australia. A few of the more faithful of that band settled near Willunga and formed themselves into a little church under the care of John Aird and Robert Lawrie.

      In 1849 we find the cause planted at the famed Burra Burra mines through the labors of P. Santo whose occupation led him there. Seeking out a few individuals in this locality, who had been immersed, he soon organized a church, and on January 13th, 1850, the first body of baptized believers assembled together to break bread in commemoration of a once crucified but now risen and exalted Savior. A building was soon after erected, and we find the name of Wm. Brooks as secretary of the church. It was at this time that George Pearce was baptized and united with the church at the Burra.

      In 1854 the brethren in the important suburb of Hindmarsh formed themselves into a separate church, having built a house with this end in view. T. Magarey is mainly responsible for this development, and soon a cluster of pioneer brethren appear upon the records of these times--among them--Henry Warren and Samuel Kidner. The record of the opening of the church in Hindmarsh furnishes us with about the first statistical record extant. There were three churches then existing--Adelaide 56, Hindmarsh 13, Willunga or McLaren Vale 15, total 84.

      In 1865 George Pierce removed to Lake Alexandrina and soon established two flourishing causes at Milang and Point Sturt. In 1865 statistics stood as follows: Adelaide 100, Alma 56, Hindmarsh 60, Myponga 12, Point Sturt 25, total 253.

      Turning our attention northward in this colony we find that the church at Alma Plains had started its farreaching and eventful career under the ministry of that doughty veteran, John Lawrie. From this center of activity the good cause has spread far and wide throughout the great wheat growing plains north of Adelaide, and has contributed in a very large measure to the general success of our plea in South Australia. This church introduces us to another group of estimable pioneers, such as Robert Harkness and wife, the Toselands, Hammonds, Greenshields, Howards, McLachlans, Wilsons, Finlaysons whose prowess has been inherited by succeeding generations from the same sturdy stock.

      Just here it might be well to refer to the inception and execution of a movement that forms a distinct epoch in the history of the cause in South Australia. This was the advent of American evangelists. Early in the history [116]

      of the church in this colony it was manifest to our pioneers that if progress commensurate with the importance of our great plea was to be achieved some more effectual method of presenting its claims to the public must be put into operation. This consideration paved the way for a vigorous evangelization by expert instrumentalities. At first old England was appealed to as more likely to furnish those whose sentiments and methods would harmonize with the idiosyncrasies of her sons and daughters in South Australia. Hence in 1850 T. Magarey writes to J. Wallis, of Nottingham, England.

      "It is seriously proposed to call out for a time a brother qualified to do the work of an evangelist among us. We have a wide and abundant field but the laborers are few." In 1860 P. Santo again broaches the matter to J. Wallis and asks definitely for a gifted brother to be sent from England. It was found, however, that the needs of the Mother Country were even greater than those of her offspring, and the appeal was ineffectual. True, Thomas Hughes Milner, of precious memory, paid a flying visit to the new world, but it seemed only like an angel's visit, and did but intensify the thirst of the fathers for more. Finally America was turned to and the brotherhood of this great commonwealth nobly responded to the Macedonian cry.

      The first evangelist to appear upon the scene was H. S. Earl who arrived November 13th, 1865. He took Adelaide by storm and leaped at once into public prominence by reason of his silver-tongued oratory. As a result a large influx of members took place in the city of Adelaide and Brother Earl's visit was all too short. It, however, whetted the appetite of the brethren and in 1866 money was sent to America to pay the passage of an evangelist to South Australia. Meanwhile H. S. Earl again returned to this colony in May, 1866, and created a great interest with good results. The church at Hindmarsh was urged to erect a new chapel at a cost of $1,400.00. H. S. Earl in the B. M. Harbinger at this time says: "The glorious triumph of the gospel of Christ in this city makes our hearts leap for joy. Every Lord's day vast crowds of people congregate at 'Whites' Rooms' to hear the word of life. Week by week the interest increases and the number of inquirers enlarges." The result of this visit, which was of twenty weeks' duration, and during which H. S. Earl visited Alma, Willunga, and Point Sturt was an addition of one hundred and twenty-five to the various churches. The chapel at Hindmarsh being complete J. W. Webb arrived in October 1866 to labor with that church. At this time also we find an account of the inauguration of the cause at Sterling East through the removal thereto of a few Hindmarsh members. S. Kidner and others engaged in pioneer work in this district and were instrumental in the establishment of a large and thriving cause. The young brethren of the various churches were also beginning to be imbued with a sense of their responsibilities, and inspired with enthusiasm in the good work, started the "Adelphian Society" which was largely accountable for the subsequent production of many of the present day able and earnest preachers, both paid and unpaid.

      The church at Two Wells sprung into existence during 1867 through the [117] instrumentality of Henry Warren. The church at Malalla was formed in 1872 by members whose membership had been at Two Wells. Another church was also formed at Auburn. On first of March, 1867, the arrival of T. J. Gore, the long looked for evangelist from America, was heralded by a very large Tea and public meeting in "Whites' Rooms." Bro. Gore commenced his labors in Grote Street and his efforts were attended with success. This noblest Roman of them all has spent over thirty years in South Australia, and his abundant labors with tongue and pen have been abundantly blessed. Statistics dated April 1st, 1867 from pages of British Harbinger are as follows: "Grote Street 223, Hindmarsh 147, Alma Plains 46, Milang 34, Two Wells 10, Auburn 21, total 481.

      In looking back over the period when the work depended on those whom the Australians delight now to call the old pioneers one may well pause to pay them a tribute of praise. They were men of the right stamp, men who in leaving the old land brought with them the word of God and the determination to achieve success in these new lands. Their work in the planting and building up of the Church of Christ cannot be esteemed too highly. They held fast to the simple word of God, and contended faithfully and earnestly that we must speak where the word of God speaks and we must be silent where the word of God is silent. They were men of profound conviction and had fought their way out of old preconceived views into the glorious liberty of the simple truth as it is in Jesus. This made them valiant for the truth and resolutely antagonistic to anything which savored of innovation or departure from the simple gospel. The pioneer sisters ably assisted their husbands in the establishment and upbuilding of the church. They are all to be remembered for their work of faith and labor of love. The church of the present day in South Australia must not forget the fathers and mothers in Israel who were before them and who toiled so unremittingly in the Lord's vineyard.

      We may look for a while at the progress that has been made during the last thirty-five years. A goodly number of churches have been established in various parts of South Australia. A number of preachers have labored successfully in the city and suburbs with occasional trips to the country. H. D. Smith, J. Colbourne, M. Wood Green, G. Day, D. A. Ewers wrought well for the Master. There is no need to mention the names of all. The churches laid hold on Foreign Mission work, specially under the earnest teaching of H. D. Smith and started a Missionary Society. This has for some years done good work and is enlarging its scope of operations. It has a practical interest in China and India. The churches in South Australia may be said to be a missionary people. They have an Annual Conference of Churches meeting in Adelaide in the month of September. The conference extends over three days. They are splendid meetings in which evangelistic work is the one great theme. There is much blessing in these meetings and an enthusiasm of the right sort. The meetings are large and the brethren take much interest in them.

      Prospects in the state of South Australia are good for much increase in numbers and power. At the last conference in September, 1901, the number of members reported was 3,230. The present force of evangelists comprise the following: J. Colbourne, P. Pittman, F. Pittman, A. C. Rankins, W. Moffit, R. J. Clow, J. E. Thomas, H. J. Horsell, L. H. Crosley, G. B. Moysey, and T. J. Gore.

      The churches have taken a firm hold on Sunday school work. Three of the churches have buildings specially for Sunday school work--Grote Street, Hindmarsh and Norwood. The number of children in attendance reported at last conference was 2,485. All of the churches when it is possible have Sunday schools. Last conference reported twenty-eight churches. It is evident that progress has been good if not so rapid as in other places. These churches have a strong and influential Home Mission Committee who look well after the weaker churches and open up new causes when it is possible to do so.


      As in the apostolic history of the church, the cause in Australia established itself first in the cities. Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, and the metropolis of Australia, one of the most delightful cities in the world, now numbering 425,000 population, witnessed the beginning of the plea for a return to apostolic Christianity in 1853, by the meeting of six persons, in response to a newspaper advertisement, in a private house, "to remember the Lord's death in His own appointed way." This was typically characteristic of the new [118] movement for restoration of ancient truths, for nearly all of our Australian churches originated in the meeting of a few people in private houses to remember the Lord's death in "the breaking of bread." About a year later these charter members entered into a permanent organization with others in Prahran, one of the largest suburbs of Melbourne, thus constituting the first Church of Christ, after the ancient order, in the colony of Victoria.

      In 1855 ten disciples of Christ from England and Scotland met together and formed a Church of Christ in the city proper. For ten years they did their own preaching for the most part, and called themselves "Christian Disciples," but on the arrival of Henry S. Earl, the most successful and influential of the early preachers in Australia, they adopted the more Scriptural names of "Christians" and "Churches of Christ." Their numbers increased slowly by the arrival of brethren from the old country and an occasional baptism, so that when Mr. Earl arrived in Melbourne, July 25th, 1864, they numbered about 60. "At this time," allowing Brother Earl to tell the story of his labors in his own words, "there were small churches in Carlton, Prahran, and St. Kilda, (suburbs of Melbourne) and a few others in the country, making thirteen small churches with an aggregate membership of about 300. The church at Melbourne met in a small, unsightly, and unpopular room in Russell Street. I at once told them that it would be a waste of time and labor for me to preach in that place and the brethren at once volunteered to show me all the public halls available in Melbourne. I decided that 'St. George's Hall,' Burke Street, was the most suitable as it was well located, of good repute and the largest in the city. This hall was secured and I preached my first sermon in it to an audience of not less than 800 on Lord's day, July 31st, 1864. The next Lord's day it was well filled and the following Lord's day it was crowded to overflowing with an audience of about 1,800 persons. All available standing room, as well as every seat, was occupied. This interest and attendance continued unabated to my last sermon on October 8, 1865. At times hundreds of people were unable to gain admittance. Every Lord's day we had decisions for Christ and at the end of my first year's labors 297 were added to the fold, thus doubling the membership. During this time numbers of persons who attended, both members and non-members, urged me to take steps to build a house of worship and promised most liberal donations. One gentleman offered me the use of $1,000 without interest as long as I wished to have it. (Money at that time brought 10 to 15 per cent.) The church appointed a building committee, a lot was purchased in Lygon Street and the building now on that lot was erected."

      The change from St. George's Hall to the new chapel in Lygon Street brought no diminution of the large crowds that flocked to [119] hear the American preacher. The boom continued until the end or Brother Earl's administration and resulted in the establishment of the premier church of the Australian colonies, the mother of many of their strongest congregations. On February 19, 1866, G. L. Surber arrived in Melbourne from Kentucky. The tidal wave raised by the preaching of Earl continued with unabated force and volume under Surber. The building, with a seating capacity of 600, was crowded out for years on Sunday nights and hundreds were baptized; as many as three hundred in one year. On September 3, 1868, O. A. Carr and his wife arrived in Melbourne. He labored in connection with G. L. Surber, and after a time members from Lygon Street, living in Fitzroy and Collingwood, two large suburbs and separate municipalities, joined immediately on to the city, formed a church and put up a building known as the Collingwood Church, for many years one of the strongest of our Melbourne churches. Here Brother Carr labored successfully till he left for Tasmania, some years later. Soon after the organization of the Collingwood church a congregation was formed in North Fitzroy, another one of the numerous suburbs of the capital. It is one of the best of our Victorian churches. At the time of the transference of the church from St. George's Hall to Lygon Street, a division took place over the question of "taking money from the world" which resulted in the organization of a church in "Manchester Unity Hall," now known as the "Swanston Street Church." Beginning with about fifty members it grew slowly but surely till it became one of the strongest congregations with the most wealth, and the best building among us in the city, purchased from the Presbyterians. This church has maintained the traditions of a rigorous conservatism after the mind of the late David King, of England, and is noted likewise for two exceptional and apostolic characteristics, as praiseworthy as they are exceptional and Scriptural, the sending out of its minister to preach the gospel in destitute regions and its abundant charity to the poor of its membership.

      The period from 1865 to 1880 was a time of strain and stress, the chaotic and polemic period of the churches in Victoria and throughout the colonies. Such questions as the annihilation of the wicked, conditional immortality, the open versus the close platform in the mutual edification system, "milking the goats," as they called taking money from the unimmersed, and cognate issues, coupled with jealousies among the leaders, caused much alienation and dissension among the disciples, notably the colony of Victoria. That period, happily, has long since passed away, as it was bound to do with growing knowledge and charity, and the churches for many years have labored harmoniously together and have been able to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. In the year 1870 M. Wood Green, an eloquent preacher, and a man of indefatigable industry, organized the church in North Melbourne, then known as Hotham, which he made into a strong church before he left it. During his Melbourne ministry he labored fruitfully in Swanston Street, Hotham, Collingwood and Lygon Street. These early ministers, Earl, Surber, Carr, Greene and others, preached during the week, and in special services, in the country, for weak churches, and at Ballarat, Maryborough, Castlemaine, Sandhurst and other towns and cities, with numerous additions at every place, making some of them strong churches. In 1875 H. L. Geeslin, an honor graduate of Kentucky University and the Bible College, the scholar and Christian gentleman, a man of noble life and beautiful spirit, went out and labored two years with great acceptance in Lygon Street when unhappily his useful life was cut short by consumption.

      The writer succeeded him, arriving in Melbourne from New Zealand December 6, 1878. The church had run down to a low ebb during the interval between us, and the breech between the churches had not been healed. The first step towards a revival of interest was the rental of the Academy of Music, the finest theatre in Melbourne, for a series of evangelistic services. A lease was taken for thirteen Sunday nights at a rental of $35.00 a night. The audience present the first night was conservatively estimated at 1,500. From the third night on standing room was at a premium in a building that seated 2,500 people. During the last month of these remarkable services 2,700 were present each night, 200 standing through an hour's discourse, and a thousand turned away at the door unable to gain admission. "Bumper houses" followed us back to Lygon Street and great results followed in the way of conversions and additions to the church. This was in the spring of '79. Again in the summer of '81, the year of the World's Fair in Melbourne, the churches of the city [120] and suburbs united in taking the Academy of Music for another evangelistic campaign at this propitious time. At the request of the committee I did the preaching, as in the first instance when my own congregation alone was doing the work. This effort during the great Exposition, when people from all parts of the world were in the city, gave another impetus to our cause, not only in Melbourne, but throughout what was then the colonies, now the states of Australia. My six nights' debate with Mr. Butchers, a prominent Methodist preacher of Victoria, published in book form, and extensively reported for the daily papers, followed by six lectures on Baptism on Sunday nights in the Temperance Hall, to audiences of fully 2,000 each, did much to renew interest and increase success. In 1879 I took over the Australian Christian Pioneer from T. J. Gore and the South Australian brethren, doubled the size, reduced the price, increased the circulation to a self-supporting basis, edited it five years and six months, changed the name to Australian Christian Watchman and left it on a permanent foundation for my successors. It is now edited by A. B. Maston and F. G. Dunn and known as the Australian Christian.

      The story of the restoration of harmony and the resuscitation of the annual conference must be told by F. G. Dunn, the historian of the Victorian churches in the "Jubilee Pictorial History of Churches of Christ in Australia." I would much prefer to leave out this passage, but the truth of history and justice to all parties concerned, require that at least this much be said: "In common with other religious organizations the Churches of Christ have held their Annual Conferences for the purpose of devising plans for co-operative work in evangelization. Looking at the history of these conferences, it would appear that the earlier efforts, though attended with a certain measure of success, failed to accomplish all that might have been legitimately expected from them. It must be admitted that during this time there was a decided absence of unity among the churches. Many churches stood aloof from the conferences, and individual brethren were not attracted to these gatherings. Indeed, as time went on, their attractive power grew less and there seemed to be a danger of the conferences lapsing altogether. This danger was averted and a new career entered upon mainly through the instrumentality of J. J. Haley. In 1882 the reconstructed conference, under a new constitution, held its first meeting, and from that time up to the present, the successive conference meetings grew in favor with the brotherhood, and increased in usefulness year by year. It was the fine, manly spirit of J. J. Haley that materially assisted in bringing about a better state of things. He would have nothing to do with parties. He declined to recognize the differences that separated [121] brethren as being of sufficient moment to prevent harmonious working together. Taking this position he was well assisted by others, who equally desired to see the churches working harmoniously together for the consolidation and extension of the Kingdom of God. At this time, about thirty years after the founding of the church in Victoria, the membership was about 2,700. Twenty-one years later (1903 ) the membership was something over 6,000."

      It would be interesting and profitable to continue a detailed history of the cause in Victoria through the last twenty years, and to speak of the labors of Isaac Selby, G. T. Walden, W. C. Morrow, A. B. Maston and other faithful ministers, and a host of intelligent and self-denying lay preachers who have rendered yeoman service in the results that have been accomplished.

      In addition to the contribution of these agencies, and the missionary work, home and foreign, that has been done, the organization of the Australian Publishing Company by Brother Maston has been a telling force in the dissemination of truth by the circulation of good literature throughout the Southern Hemisphere. There are now twenty-eight churches in Melbourne and suburbs with an aggregate membership of over three thousand, and strong, self-supporting churches in all the leading centers of population in the state of Victoria, with excellent prospects of a great work to be done in the future.


      The first effort to introduce the plea for a return to primitive Christianity in New South Wales dates from the establishment of a church of four members in Sydney in 1851. The leader of this infant organization was Joseph Kingsbury, Sr., for many years of his later life recognized as the "grand old man" of the Australian churches. Bro. Kingsbury was a preacher of great intelligence, piety and zeal, and the father of Churches of Christ in New South Wales, the oldest of the Australian colonies. In 1853 this little church was removed to Newtown, a populous suburb of the city, when twelve others were immediately added through the labors and personal influence of Bro. Kingsbury, forming the root and nucleus of what is now the Enmore Church, one of the most efficient and powerful churches among us in the Southern Hemisphere. It grew to be a strong church under the preaching of the brethren themselves and the personal propaganda of its members. It was worshiping in a plain brick building in Newtown, known as "the Christians' Meeting House," when the writer arrived in Australia in 1874. It has long since outgrown the "meeting house" and some years ago erected a larger and more commodious structure [122] further out in the suburbs of Enmore, where George T. Walden has labored so successfully for the last eight years as to necessitate an enlargement of the building to accommodate the crowds of people who flock to hear him. The Enmore church has over 600 members, a Sunday school of 500 scholars, raising annually $3,500 for current expenses and contributing to the support of two preachers besides its own.

      In the early 60's a church was organized in Sydney, the city proper, as distinguished from its suburbs. The American reader must try not to be confused by the innumerable suburbs of these Australian cities. They are mostly made up of suburbs with separate names and municipalities, and the group of corporations divided by streets, making up the city when spoken of in general terms. This attempt to constitute a Church of Christ on the apostolic basis, here as elsewhere, in the absence of experience and recognized leadership, had its period of chaos and controversy. The materialistic heresies of Christadelphianism became the entering wedge of strife and division, and the "open platform," the practical heresy of allowing every man to talk and preach who imagined himself qualified, made bad matters worse, until finally the church grew weary of Tom-Dick-and-Harryism, and every fellow "turning on the gas" when it pleased him to do so, and a wise man among them suggested that they settle their controversies by speaking of the points at issue only in the language of the Bible. This suggestion and an improved form of mutual edification brought peace and the church entered upon a new era of progress. In 1869 a church building was erected in Elizabeth Street, and soon after M. W. Green was employed as evangelist, whose ministrations were signally successful. This church was the writer's first Australian field. He labored here pleasantly and successfully for more than two years, assisting in the work at Newtown on week nights and Sunday mornings. Some of the finest men and women with whom he has ever associated in gospel labor he met in these two congregations. After twenty-five years in Elizabeth Street the church disposed of its property and purchased the Lyceum building, erected by the "Free-thinkers" of Sydney to free the city from "Theology, the Curse of the World." Like the builders of the Tom Payne Memorial Hall in Boston, they found themselves unable to pay for it, and it was knocked down at a mortgage sale to the Church of Christ in Elizabeth Street. It is a beautiful building admirably suited to church purposes, long since fumigated from the taints and odors of infidelity by the worship of the church and the preaching of the gospel. P. A. Dickson, a graduate of the Bible College of Kentucky University, has been the honored minister for seven years, [123] whose abundant labors have achieved marked results for the salvation of men and the glory of God.

      These two mother churches, Sydney and Newtown (now Enmore), have been instrumental in establishing churches in several of the leading suburbs of the city, and their missionary work has been felt in several fields in the state of New South Wales. The suburban church of Paddington has a substantial brick building and a membership of 183. Petersham and Marrickville have churches of considerable strength. There are a number of congregations in the state outside of the capital, but most of them are weak in numbers. They do not forget, however, to meet with religious regularity every Lord's day morning, preacher or no preacher, to break bread in memory of the Lord's death, nor do they forget during the week to testify to their neighbors the gospel of the grace of God. Like all the Australian churches, they are liberal with their means and anxious for the progress of the cause. There is an annual conference for evangelistic and missionary purposes in New South Wales, as in all the Australian states and mission organizations in connection with all the leading churches.


      The advent of the first active disciple to the young colony of the north occurred in the removal of J. W. Johnson from Victoria to Toowoomba. He made the acquaintance and was instrumental in bringing over to New Testament plea a young carpenter and local Baptist preacher named Troy. F. W. Troy, for a long time a disciple preacher and now the honored and eloquent minister of one of the leading Baptist churches in Brooklyn, N. Y. Full of enthusiasm for the new cause, Mr. Troy left his business in Queensland, and traveled 1,200 miles by water, at his own charges, to hold a consultation with me as the President of the Victorian Conference, to see if something could not be done to send back a preacher with him to the Northern colony. In the meantime Mr. Troy desired to be a Timothy to one of our Pauls. I sent him to Stephen Cheek, then operating in Tasmania. In a few weeks the two men appeared in Melbourne ready for their great apostolic mission to the North. They set sail for the new field of labor in July, 1882, and delivered their first sermon at Zilmere on the first Sunday in August. Their first convert became an honored preacher and missionary. In less than a year churches were organized at Zilmere, Warrick, Toowoomba and Brisbane, the capital of the colony, and then on the 17th of February, '83, occurred the greatest calamity that has befallen the cause in Australia,--the death of Stephen Cheek, the man of greatest genius who has appeared among the advocates of primitive Christianity in these Southern lands. The briefest sketch of the Australian churches would be incomplete without a tribute to this wonderful young man of God. He was one of those rare men who inspired the boundless confidence and deepest affection of those who came most directly within the circle of his influence. Of all the men I have known, in a wide experience and observation of men, no one has ever obtained the hold upon me that Stephen Cheek did. I have never been able to speak of him in public without breaking down, and now after he has been in his grave twenty years, I cannot write of him without shedding tears. What Ian Maclaren said of Henry Drummond can be truthfully said of Stephen Cheek, only substituting the one name for the other. "Without pride, without envy, without selfishness, without vanity, moved only by good will and spiritual ambitions, responsive ever to the touch of God and every noble impulse, faithful, fearless, magnanimous Stephen Cheek was the most perfect Christian I have known or expect to see this side of the grave." And like Henry Drummond he was an exceptional combination of intellectual and spiritual genius that a man is fortunate to know once in a life time, and when once known must ever afterwards be regarded with a reverence and love akin to worship. As Gladstone said of Arthur Hallam, "What a treasure he carried away with him to the grave when Stephen Cheek was buried." He came to us from the Plymouth brethren through the instrumentality of G. B. Moysey, an able and consecrated man, a fine preacher and lucid writer, who fittingly became Cheek's biographer in a splendid series of papers in the A. C. Watchman. Both men were living and laboring in Tasmania at the time. Seven or eight congregations in Tasmania and Victoria which Bro. Cheek had established on an apostolic but independent foundation came with him into the restoration.

      After the untimely death of his companion, Troy vigorously prosecuted his evangelistic [124] work in the new field till joined by D. A. Ewers, sent to his assistance by the Victorian Conference. Under the joint labors of these two able men other churches were soon organized and the work of proclamation extended wherever an opening could be found. The editorship of Truth in Love, Cheek's paper, fell to the lot of Brother Ewers who carried it on for several years with signal ability and success, proving himself to be one of the ablest writers and best editors in the colonies.

      There are twenty-eight churches in Queensland with an aggregate membership of 1,000 approximately; the largest is the church at Brisbane, the capital, with 210 members. There are fifteen chapels and halls owned by the churches. A Kanaka mission is conducted at Childers by John Thomson. This mission is supported by the contributions from churches and individuals throughout the United States of Australia. Two of the missionaries supported by the Australian churches in India are from Queensland--Mr. and Mrs. F. E. Stubbin.

      When the continuous drouth of almost ten years in this and the adjoining state of New South Wales, with the consequent social and financial depression, and leakage of population, are taken into account, this is a creditable showing, which will be greatly improved, no doubt, under better conditions.


      West Australia forms about one-third of the Australian continent with nearly a million square miles of territory having an area considerably larger than one-fourth of the United States. It was first settled in 1829, but made little progress till 1890 when it ceased to be a crown colony and obtained responsible government. The population then was about 40,000. The great Coolgardie Gold Fields were soon after discovered. Other gold fields broke out and population rapidly increased until it now approaches a quarter of a million. The gold raised in West Australia in 1892 reached the sum of $40,000,000, equal to that of all the rest of Australia combined. Agricultural settlement is also progressing rapidly and it requires no prophetic insight to perceive that West Australia with its splendid climate, boundless resources and immense territory has a tremendous future before it.

      No church on the New Testament lines was formed before 1890 when T. H. Bates (now in England) volunteered to enter the field. Brother Bates was supported by a committee which formed at an Intercolonial Conference held in Victoria a short time before and at which a resolution was passed in favor of opening up the cause in the Western Colony. He reached Perth, the capital, on the 21st of November and at once set to work to hunt up [125] disciples of whom he found eight and on the following Lord's day the first meeting was held to break bread. The work soon gained a good footing and for the first year considerable progress was made. Unfortunately, however, internal trouble arose over questions concerning "open communion," receiving money from the unbaptized, etc., which resulted in an open division and for some time two near churches struggled for existence. This crippled the cause, and for years little headway was made. In the meantime Brother Bates accepted a call to England. Ultimately a reunion was effected and the cause has since made steady progress. The second church was formed at Fremantle, the port of Perth, in October, 1893. Perth and Fremantle are still the principal churches, the former having a present membership of about 300 and the latter about 200. There is also a church at Subiaco, a suburb of Perth, of about 150 and churches on the gold fields at Coolgardie, Southern Cross, Kalgoorlie, Boulder, and Kanowna and one or two small churches in agricultural districts.

      The first Annual Conference was held in 1898 when steps were taken to prosecute home mission work and in 1902 a foreign missionary committee was appointed. The present membership in the state is about 1,000 and rapidly increasing. There are at present but five preachers employed: D. A. Ewers at Perth, L. Hagger at Fremantle, H. J. Banks at Subiaco, W. G. L. Campbell at Kalgoorlie and S. H. Scambler at Nulder City, the three last named being home missionaries.

      It is hoped to have one or two more in the field shortly. The missionary spirit is growing and the progress of the past twelve months has been the most marked in the history of the cause. Tent missions held by Brother Hagger resulted in about 100 additions during the last four months. About $400.00 was raised for Foreign Missions in 1902 and this is only a commencement. On the whole the outlook in West Australia is particularly encouraging. In this and in other Australian states there is no opposition to organized missionary effort.


      The arrival of O. A. Carr in Hobart, January, 1872, determines the aggressive commencement of our work in the island. Previous to this we read of no sustained evangelistic effort. The clarion voice of this educated preacher urging the claims of the primitive gospel upon the people, supplemented by an able advocacy of our principles through the press, soon elicited considerable investigation and resulted in the conversion of many to Christ, both from sectarianism and the world. Brother Carr remained in Hobart preaching and teaching for one year only. It is generally remarked that he left his work in this city too soon. Be that as it may, he left a congregation of 108 members to perpetuate under very hopeful and propitious conditions, the work that he had so ably inaugurated.

      Two churches came into being in the South Eastern portion of the island in 1879. Brother Stephen Cheek, whose name is still a household word among the brotherhood of Tasmania, invaded the Bream Creek district with the primitive gospel in the early part of this year.

      [126] In his judgment the ignorance of this community as respects religious matters was so profound as to justify a comparison with the ancient Egypt. But so immediate and salutary were the effects of the gospel that a church of fifty odd members was established in the district within seven weeks after its first proclamation by Brother Cheek. A few months later several of the brethren from Bream Creek removed to Tasman's Peninsula. Hence the organization of the church in that region. These two churches have continued loyal to the faith through many vicissitudes, and, although dependent to a great extent upon local effort, have made considerable progress. They are the two principal churches in the island.

      The progress of the work in the Northern part of the island has not been sufficient to justify the enthusiastic to any degree of satisfaction. In Launceston, with a population of 22,000, we have a church of but 33 members after an existence of eighteen years. Special difficulties seem to be in the way of progress in this city.

      On the Northwest coast there are three small congregations with an aggregate membership of 52. On the West coast, noted for its rich mineral deposits, we have three feeble churches at Jeehan, Queenstown and Gormanston respectively. There is also a small church at Port Esperance in the Huon district. There are in all twelve churches in the island with an aggregate membership of 468. Isolated members will increase this total to 500. Considering that the population of Tasmania is 172,000, this progress or want of progress, will produce no feelings of gratulations in the hearts of those who desire the universal prevalence of our principles.

      Lack of systematic missionary activity is, in the estimation of the writer, the cause of this lack of prosperity. We read of many churches that once had an existence, such as those at Peppermint Bay, Lisdellon, The Nook, Beaconsfield and Rosevale, but which have been allowed to gradually die for the want of evangelistic support, while many of the most important towns, such as Ross, Campbelltown, Evandale, Perth, Westbury, Longford, Deloraine, Dunorlan, Devonport, Ulverstone and Burnie with the great Western population, have rarely, if ever, been touched by a missionary from our people.

      Not until the year 1894 did the matter of general evangelization receive the attention of the brotherhood in the state. In March of this year the first annual conference was held in Launceston, at which the need of systematic missionary work was earnestly discussed, resulting in the formation of a committee to which the matter of evangelization was committed, with the recommendation to secure an evangelist for general work as early as possible. This, however, with several subsequent attempts, proved abortive. The churches have met in conference annually since the foregoing year. These meetings have been blessed by the brotherhood as a means of their mutual edification and encouragement, but are wanting in permanent results as respects missionary expansion. However, something was done at the conference of 1901 which gives promise of permanency. A Home Missionary Committee was formed, consisting of several good country brethren who seemed eager for the prosperity of the work. This committee has succeeded in getting the country churches to contribute regularly toward a fund for Home Mission purposes. There is another fund for similar purposes in Tasmania. Brother W. Davis, of Hobart, at his decease bequeathed a considerable legacy to the cause of evangelization in the island. This fund is in the hands of three trustees and provides for the employment of an evangelist for eight months during the year in the country districts and the remaining four months in Hobart, providing the church there cares to claim his services for such a period. We confidently expect that this fund, under the wise administration of the trustees, will be an important factor in promoting the future work of the island. A better missionary spirit has been awakened among the brethren during the last two years.


      Blessed with a magnificent climate and an almost unparalleled range of scenery from the Alpine glaciers of the South Island to the orange groves and vineyards of the North; dowered with prolific harvests, rich in her wealth of mineral and precious ore; the home of the noblest aboriginal race and peopled by the best of Britain's sinew and womanhood New Zealand may even accept the compliment involved in the designation of her islands as "the wonderland of the world."

      Systematic colonization took place between 1840 and 1850, since which the tide of immigration has flowed steadily apace. The Southern [127] province of Otago in the South Island, of which Dunedin, the chief commercial town of the colony, is capital, was largely peopled by Scottish Presbyterians, while Canterbury in the North, of which Christ Church is the Cathedral city, was settled under the auspices of the church of England.

      Wellington, the capital and seat of government, in the provinces of like name (North Island) was colonized by a "mixed multitude" and retains its cosmopolitan aspect, while Auckland in the North at the head of the picturesque and magnificent harbor, like the rest of the provinces having the same name, received an early impetus from the adherents of English nonconformity. The population of the colony, according to last year's quinquennial census, is 815,862, inclusive of 43,143 Maoris and 2,857 Chinese.

      Churches of Christ in New Zealand were established in the early days of the colony's settlement by many sturdy pioneers, who, coming from their homes in England and Scotland, carried with them their religious convictions and as opportunity offered preached the gospel, teaching publicly and privately the primitive truth of the New Testament. Where two or three gathered together there the Lord's table was set up, and when circumstances favored a church formed.

      The first church established was probably that at Nelson, where after a time it ceased, being reorganized in 1879.

      In 1850 a few brethren met for worship in Auckland, and meetings were held more or less regularly up to 1862 when the church was strengthened by the arrival of a number of brethren from England in connection with the Manchester nonconformists settlement scheme.

      In 1865 the first chapel was built by the hands of Bros. M. W. Green and Watson, with the assistance of a lad. Since this time the church has progressed slowly and now meets in a neat and commodious building.

      Among the pioneers were such noble men as the late Captain Rattray R. Laing, G. Gilmour, Roebuck, Evans, and Davies.

      The church was founded in Dunedin by the arrival of a number of Scottish brethren in 1858, men and women of sober mien and devoted purpose. They immediately formed a meeting and about 1861, being considerably increased in numbers, erected their first chapel.

      In 1870 the present building was erected and largely added to during the term of Bro. Green's labors as evangelist. Much publicity was gained by the church as the result of two very successful debates held by Brother Green with Hardings Britten, a spiritualist, and Chas. Bright, free-thought lecturer. The building, known as the "Tabernacle," is the finest structure owned by the brotherhood in the colony.

      Among the early pioneers in Dunedin were Bros. James Butters and Andrew Bremner, now gone to their reward, Captain James Stewart, Samuel Elborn and F. Battson, all staunch and earnest disciples.

      The church at Wellington was organized in 1869 and that at Christ Church in the year following. [128]

      The cause received its first impetus from outside of the colony by the visit of Bro. H. S. Earl to Dunedin. This brother, the first American evangelist to visit New Zealand, was brought over from Melbourne in 1867, principally through the liberality of Captain Stewart. He was succeeded by G. L. Surber in 1869 and since then the following brethren from the United States have done noble work in the cause of Christ: J. J. Haley, A. B. Maston, W. S. Houtchins and others.

      Besides British born evangelists, T. H. Bates, Henry Exley and Edward Lewis, were several colonial-born, educated in the United States, among whom may be mentioned C. A. Moore and George Manifold.

      Amongst those who have arisen from the native ranks to take up the work of evangelists were Albert Turner and Chas. Watt, while several Australian brethren have rendered valuable service in the proclamation of the primitive gospel.

      The membership of the New Zealand churches, according to the last census, is 6,105, but as children under 15 are reckoned as belonging to the same church as their parents, we have to deduct 2,334, leaving 3,771 as the approximate membership, showing an increase of 200 in five years.

      It may be mentioned that almost every church has its Sunday school, besides which several have Dorcas Societies, Mutual Improvement classes, etc., and two or three have Christian Endeavor organizations, though the latter movement has not "caught on" to any extent.

      The largest church is that at Dunedin, with 318 members, followed by Auckland, with 278, while two or three number but a dozen or so. There are forty-two buildings for worship owned by the brotherhood, the remaining congregations meeting in public halls and private dwellings.

      Three conferences for the furtherance of evangelization are held annually. The "Northern," comprising churches in the Auckland province, "Middle District," representing the Wellington, Nelson, and Westland provinces, and the "South Island," embracing Canterbury, Otago, and Southland provincial districts.

      The first General Conference took place in Wellington at the beginning of the present century, and was well attended by delegates from all parts of the colony. Many subjects of interest to the churches were discussed, and amongst permanent results were the setting up of a Colonial Board of Foreign Missions and the appointment of a committee for the assistance of young men desirous of taking up the vocation of preaching. In connection with the latter subject it may be mentioned that during the last twenty-five or thirty years New Zealand has sent not less than eighteen of her sons to be educated as preachers at the Bible College, Lexington, and other similar institutions in the Western states. Upon the completion of their training a few have returned, but the majority, finding congenial fields of labor in the great republic, have remained here, to the distinct loss of the brotherhood in the colony.

      The majority of the American brethren, who, from time to time, have labored in the field as evangelists, while differing in a few details as to methods, and being in one or two instances "broader" in their views on several subjects, have invariably fallen in with the expressed sentiments of the churches, while some of their suggestions have been adopted and found helpful and beneficial.

      The personal influence and devoted labor of our American preachers (with but few exceptions) have placed New Zealand under obligations of gratitude to the United States; and in the splendid work carried on in Melbourne in the production and publication of Christian literature by A. B. Maston, there exists a constant reminder.

      Acting upon the principle of standing firm for the Constitutional, and granting every possible freedom in subjects conditioned by circumstances and environment, the Church of Christ in New Zealand, notwithstanding its share of church troubles and internal differences, has so far made headway and gained a reasonably firm footing in the colony.

      Though hitherto doing comparatively little in the Foreign Mission field, the churches throughout the colony are waking up to the importance of this great subject and beginning to take a more active part in the propagation of the gospel in foreign lands.

      In a few of the Sunday schools a monthly "Missionary Sunday" is observed, the contribution being sent to the missionaries in India and elsewhere.

      Last year a mission to the Maoris of the North Island was inaugurated by the Auckland Conference. [129]

      "Church of Christ in Australasia." Churches of Christ: A Historical, Biographical, and Pictorial History of Churches of Christ in the United States, Australasia, England, and Canada. Ed. John T. Brown. Louisville, KY: John P. Morton and Company, 1904. Pp. 115-129.

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