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Journal 2008 - Wesley Historical Society

Go to Wesley Historical Society Publications


52 pages


Tribute to Jack Penman - Mary Caygill

Tribute to Jack Penman - Keith Taylor

Growth in Love - Jack Penman

Ordination Charge - Jack Penman

Wesley College to Prince Albert College:
The Years Between - Helen Laurenson

Paul Wynyard Fairclough F.R.A.S. - Frank Paine

A Sunday School Scholar - Joyce K Dey

Russia s Greatest Enemy? Harold Williams and the
Russian Revolutions - Charlotte Alston
Reviewed by Garth Cant

Neighbours not Strangers: Methodists Exploring
Relationships with People of Other Religions
- John H Roberts
Reviewed by Terry Wall


This year's Journal features tributes to Jack Penman presented at his funeral on 13 September 2007. Jack was a member and friend of the Wesley Historical Society, contributing articles to the Journal and in his last years serving as proof-reader. We include two sermons that he preached, one as an ordination charge in the 1970s, and another during his retirement to the Auckland Synod. We catch again the flavour of Jack's approach and the passion that he brought to his speaking.

Jack Penman was regarded as an elder statesman of the church. He had experience, wisdom and insight to offer. In his account of his spiritual journey, published in a Proceedings of the WHS No. 70, June 2000, he identified influences on his development. He referred to the importance of people: WT Blight, EW Hames, JJ Lewis and DO Williams. There were others from further afield like the Sri Lankan DT Niles and the British trio of Leslie Weatherhead, Dr Sangster and Donald Soper. "See how it deepened my love of counselling and preaching - and with Donald Soper - the sacramental ministry and its expression in political action in the world."

In the illuminating article Jack spoke of his lifelong commitment to reading, expanding the horizons of his knowledge. He concluded, "The fruit of all this is that I am now aware of how little I know and that I am caught up in the great mystery of existence." At the heart of his life was the priority he gave to prayer and worship. He wrote of gathering "aids to devotion" both written and visual, that reminded him "that the God of the biblical tradition is about giving and renewing life."

Helen Laurenson has written an interesting article which provides us with answers as to how the Wesley College buildings on their Queen Street site were used in the years between 1868 and 1895. We are reminded of how challenging it must have been to develop educational opportunities in the early days of the colony. Frank Paine introduces us to the life and work of the Rev. Paul Fairclough. The article suggests that he is of sufficient interest to merit further research and perhaps a biography. Joyce Dey's article is a fascinating glimpse into her personal memories of being a Sunday School Scholar at the Pitt Street Methodist Church, in Auckland. She takes us back into a culture of nurture and chaperones. We are reminded of the church's investment in faith development and the response of young people.

Finally, there are two book reviews. The first by Dr Garth Cant is a review of Charlotte Alston's recent study of Harold Williams. It is good to see Harold Williams being given the attention he deserves. We recall the article by Fred Baker and Tatiana Blagova in the pages ofour Journal in 2006. My review is of John Roberts' examination of Methodist scholars' engagement with inter-faith issues. John has provided a service to the church in making available the fruits of so much research and publishing. He has located a distinctively Methodist approach that focuses on respect for the stranger and the work of God's grace throughout all cultures and all times.

In November, The University of Auckland School of Theology hosted the annual conference of the Religious History Association of Aotearoa New Zealand. The editor was privileged to attend along with the President of the WHS, the immediate past vice-president of the church, the Rev. Barbara Peddie, and the Rev. Tony Franklin. The variety and vitality of the contributions indicated how far the practice of writing religious history has come. A number of comments were made to the effect that there has been a new recognition of the importance of religious history in New Zealand. It should not be too long before this impulse will find its way into the mainstream of history in New Zealand.

Keynote speaker Peter Matheson offered five observations. 1. Church history has become religious/cultural history. 2. The locus of writing such history has moved from seminaries to university history departments. 3. Many practitioners regard themselves as post-confessional. 4. There are a host of new disciplines which are now incorporated into the writing of religious history. 5. There is a need to give attention to questions about anthropology - who are we as human beings? As Allan Davidson approached retirement he spoke of his experience "Doing Religious History - A Personal Journey" surveying the dynamic changes that had taken place. lan Breward suggested that New Zealand Methodist history cannot be understood without considering the Australasian context.

It is hoped that the WHS can play a role in the future of the Religious History Association of Aotearoa New Zealand.

- Terry Wall