A new home
The children at Waverley House in East Sydney are transferred to a four-acre property known as Dalmar on Parramatta Road, Croydon where 80 children are housed and cared for. Wesley Dalmar’s work continues today.
The Alexandra Rescue Home opens at Enfield to support single mothers. In 1929 the name changes to Sunset Lodge and it becomes an aged care home for women.
A friend to the rescue
The Superintendent has a good friend in Ebenezer Vickery who buys the Lyceum Theatre in Pitt Street to re-house the Centenary Hall congregation. Seating 2,500 in the theatre, the Lyceum also includes a hall with capacity for 500 people, an adjoining hotel with 130 rooms and land running from Pitt Street to Castlereagh Street on which stand a notorious two-up school and two brothels. Stewards have to climb up to the third balcony to operate the windlass to shut the sliding roof when a passing shower catches the congregation unawares; it is not unusual to see members of the congregation with their umbrellas up.
A fitting legacy
Vickery’s untimely death in England in 1906 means he never sees the Pitt and Castlereagh Street building which opens that year and bears his name—the Vickery Mission Settlement. This is the headquarters of the Central Methodist Mission. During 1907, 10 open air services are held weekly, continuing to take the gospel to people in the street.
Two additional men’s shelters are established in 1907 and a city halfway house for ‘friendless girls’—Hope Haven. These girls, some as young as 12, are single mothers, homeless, addicts and ex-prisoners. The haven becomes a home for mothers and children in 1913.
Welcoming large numbers of newcomers to Australia
This period sees a significant increase in the number of immigrants to Australia. The Central Methodist Mission leads the way with its support services for immigrants, setting up depots at Sydney wharves to welcome newcomers. Every ship entering port is visited; almost 10,000 per year are visited by 1910, falling to 1,200 in 1914. In 1912 nearly 29,000 immigrants are provided with beds compared to 1,100 in 1911. Thousands are found permanent housing and employment. During 1914 various churches combine to more effectively meet the needs of immigrants as the numbers decrease.
Changing of the guard
A series of Superintendents hold the reins during the next decade: The Rev Patrick Stephen from 1913–15, the Rev Samuel Hoban from 1915–21 and the Rev HJ Clifton Foreman in 1921. Meanwhile, the property of the Lyceum and Vickery Settlement building is handed over to the Methodist Church.
After humble beginnings in 1912 the Spring Fair becomes a significant event by 1914, starting an annual tradition that continues today as Wesley Fair.
Expanding our care
Dalmar, the children’s home at Croydon, moves again in 1923 to a 37-acre donated site at Carlingford, while in 1927 a night refuge and homeless persons’ centre opens in East Sydney.
In 1928, Taylor Village opens at Narrabeen as a home for the aged, and Sunset Lodge (formerly the Alexandra Rescue Home) as a home for aged women.
Pleasant Sunday Afternoon is broadcast for the first time on radio station 2FC.
New Superintendent, new chapel
In 1931, the Rev Rupert J Williams is appointed as Superintendent and leads the Central Methodist Mission through till 1938. At many conferences delegates push to vacate the Lyceum Theatre and build a proper church. In response Wesley Chapel is constructed inside the Castlereagh Street Conference Hall to mark the Central Methodist Mission’s 50th anniversary. The chapel opens in 1934.
Further advances in aged care
The Rev Dr Frank H Rayward becomes Superintendent. In that year the Sylvania Aged Couples Settlement opens. It later becomes Frank Vickery Village, still operating today.
The war years
The Central Methodist Mission establishes a War Services Auxiliary which makes more than 14,000 articles for the fighting forces. It is considered a time for a ‘ministry of courage and comfort’ with a surge in congregations taxing buildings’ capacities. The Pleasant Sunday Afternoon events at the Lyceum seldom have fewer than 1,000 people attending.
A van is purchased to provide a mobile canteen service for the homeless.
Victory in Europe (VE) Day sees 10 consecutive services in Wesley Chapel with more than 3,000 people attending.
Expansion of care into Newcastle
Newcastle City Mission begins, initiated by local businessmen concerned about the lingering impact of the Great Depression on their community.
Hospitals signal new direction in care
Waddell House (later to become Wesley Hospital Ashfield) opens at Ashfield in 1946 and is the first private Christian psychiatric hospital in New South Wales. The property is donated by Harold Waddell who is interested in caring for people with epilepsy after experiencing the disorder in his own family. In 1948 Lottie Stewart Hospital opens on a 10 acre property at Dundas to provide care for special needs, especially Huntington’s Disease, within a Christian environment. Sir Frederick Stewart gifts the property in memory of his wife, Lady Stewart, indicating it will “help those in our community who know the burden and weariness of physical suffering”.
The Central Methodist Mission holds its first youth camp at Woodford in 1948 with 63 attendees. These young people are referred to as Couriers of Christ and the camps expand rapidly.