I wonder how many “Interchange” readers were present 15 years ago at “What a Mission!”, a presentation to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the Diocese of Christchurch? The small publication made available at that time, to which I am indebted for some of the following snippets, contains many 'firsts' for NZCMS which it is interesting to recall.
The first known CMS supporter in Canterbury, Dr A.C. Barker, arrived in 1850 on the Charlotte Jane, one of the First Four Ships to arrive from England.
The beginnings of mission among Māori in the Christchurch Diocese happened nine years later, in 1859, when the Rev. James Stack, a close friend of Tamihana Te Rauparaha, migrated south from the North Island, was ordained by Bishop Harper and became the Diocesan Missioner to Māori.
The first NZCMS missionary to be sent overseas from the Christchurch Diocese was the Rev. W.G. Ivens, who went to Melanesia in 1895.
The first NZCMS missionary to become a bishop in an overseas diocese was Rt Rev Maxwell Wiggins, also of Christchurch. He was consecrated Bishop of the Diocese of Victoria Nyanza in 1963.
The first Missionary School was held in Nelson in 1926. It was chaired by Canon Lambie of Melbourne, as Nelson’s Bishop Sadlier, was away.
The first Spring School took place in August 1948, organized by Rev. Hugh Thomson, who, with his wife Margaret, spent ten years in Tanzania from 1952–1962. It was held at St Margaret’s College, with evening meetings at St Mary’s, Merivale.
On a slightly lighter note, and not related to the Christchurch Diocese, it is rumoured that Mr Don (later Rev.) Corban, was amongst the first NZCMS Mission Partners to travel to his field of service by air.
Emails have made inter-country communication considerably easier and faster than the earlier alternative – letters and aerogrammes. At first, the immediacy was difficult to accommodate. For example, it was during Rev. Michael Lawrence’s tenure as General Secretary, that the use of email became more prevalent. Apparently, on at least one occasion, a Mission Partner sent an email and, when it had not been answered one day later, emailed again to enquire why he had not received a reply. Michael’s answer was along the lines of “My goodness, I need time to pray about the matter before answering the email!”
To end on a financial note - in 1924, the Home Allowance for a single missionary for 6 months was an impressive 3 pounds sixpence!