Not Self But Others
Foreword by the Rev. Graham Brazendale
Even a Woman
Introduction to the New Zealand Methodist Deaconess Index
The Rising Tide
Freed to Serve
Reports of the Sisters of the Poor
-Tory Street Mission, Wellington
-Central Mission Sisterhood, Dunedin
The Awakening Giant
The Deaconess "If"
Milestones to Full Stature
Visionaries and Standard-bearers
The Deaconess Index
Deaconesses and their appointments
Appointments filled by successive Deaconesses
1. Officers of the Deaconess Association
2. Lady Superintendents of Deaconess House
Mrs Williams Great Speech
3. Wardens of the Deaconess Order
4. Deaconesses who married ministers
5. Accepted students who withdrew from training or who did not proceed
'Not Self-But Others is a necessary and valuable addition to our knowledge of the history of the Methodist Church in New Zealand. It is the story of a group of women whose dedication and caring service is without peer, and whose service the Church has been slow to recognise.
In the history of the Church, the Orders of Deaconesses are a recent development, being established first in Germany in 1833. These Orders grew out of a recognition of the urban poor resulting from industrialisation and urbanisation in the 19th century. As Mr Chambers has shown, similar needs in New Zealand during the early decades of the twentieth century led to women responding to a call to offer costly and dedicated service to people who were poor. These women were pioneers in what was to become the Methodist Deaconess Order. The service which Deaconesses offered in the Maori Mission was similar, in that Maori women and children comprised a large proportion of the rural poor of the day.
From its origins in the early part of this century until a group of former Deaconesses were ordained as Presbyters in 1979, thus ending the Deaconess Order as such. Deaconesses made an outstanding contribution in costly caring service, and to our understanding of Christian ministry. If social and economic conditions in larger New Zealand cities at the turn of the century were allowing young women to find a place where Christian commitment and idealism could find a sphere of service, social and economic conditions, the growth of the Welfare State and changing and expanding roles for women in the Church in the latter part of the twentieth century have contributed to the demise of the Order.
This does not mean that the Deaconess Order was unimportant. The Deaconesses have made a lasting contribution to the life of the Church. They were the right people at the right time in the right places. They recalled to the memory of the Church the ancient order of Deacons, people who offered a caring and costly service on behalf of Christ. They played an important part in awakening the conscience of the Church to the suffering and needs of the poor. Nor has this emphasis been forgotten. The reformed Diaconate, now primarily, though not necessarily exclusively self supporting, and open to men as well as women, continues to remind the Church of its calling to caring and costly service. Whatever course the Diaconate takes in the future, the dedication and ideals of the Deaconess Order must not be forgotten.
Mr Chambers is to be commended for the work he has done to ensure this. The task has involved laborious and time-consuming research, made more difficult by incomplete information in the Minutes of Conference and other official documents. This book goes a long way towards recording the story of this dedicated band of women and redressing past injustices. The Church owes Mr Chambers a debt of gratitude for his interest, dedication and skills in compiling this work.