A new style
The Rev Alan Walker becomes Superintendent. Addressing the pressing issues of the day at the Lyceum Theatre, he calls for an end to the White Australia policy.
In 1959 the Rev Alan Walker launches Easter Mission, an event which now draws a national audience of millions via television, radio and press. Twelve thousand people take part in the inaugural Easter Mission.
In another innovation, a new half hour television series I Challenge the Minister on Channel 9 on Sundays is launched. The program lasts for seven years and is said to have an audience of half a million per week.
Also in 1959, Wesley Impact! magazine is launched to broadcast the Central Methodist Mission’s Word and deed ministry to staff, congregations, supporters, clients and the wider public. Wesley Impact! magazine continues to be a popular publication today.
The Teenage Cabaret becomes a major youth outreach activity spurred on by the philosophy that pop music and dance are the best way to reach young people. It is an event involving contemporary bands performing to crowds of up to eight hundred young people. Teenage Cabaret enjoys ten successful years and is widely covered in the media as an outstanding youth outreach program.
On the air
The Rev Alan Walker launches a national televised Easter Sunrise Service, at a time when television in Australia is only five years old. At the first service in front of the huge screen at the Ryde Drive-in Theatre, he addresses 3,000 people in 700 cars and tens of thousands of people in front of black and white television sets in their homes.
New home for aged
Hoban House, Pagewood, opens with accommodation for 48 people and a day care program. It becomes known as ‘Happy Hoban’ due to its incredibly friendly atmosphere.
A new approach to suicide prevention
Concerned by the number of distressed phone calls to his home, the Rev Walker and a small group of people come up with the idea of a round-the-clock telephone service. The Lifeline Centre opens in Darlinghurst in March.
Also in 1963, young Aboriginal activist Charles Perkins speaks at the Lyceum Theatre about the conditions of Indigenous people.
End of an era
The Lyceum Theatre burns down in February and worship services move into the State Theatre over the next two years.
That year Central Methodist Mission launches the annual Easter Breakfast, an event designed with Sydney’s community leaders in mind. In later years the Easter Breakfast unites community leaders for a challenging and thought-provoking morning with high profile speakers such as politicians, business people and sports personalities.
Gateway Children’s Home, now Wesley Gateway Cottage and part of Wesley Dalmar, also opens at Lewisham as a short-term childcare centre for families in crisis. The home caters for 14 children.
Advocating for peace
A vocal advocate for social justice, the Rev Alan Walker calls publicly for an end to Australia’s participation in the Vietnam War, echoing calls by increasing numbers of Australians at that time. The following year he meets Dr Martin Luther King Jr in the US and pays tribute to his Christian leadership of the civil rights movement.
In 1966 the refurbished Lyceum Theatre and Wesley Centre opens.
Expanding our care
Pinaroo (formerly Sunset Lodge) opens in March as a hostel for people with disability.
The same year the Bernard-Smith Children’s Home opens at Pymble. This home was established for boys and girls from two to 17 who were alone due to family breakdown.
Education for seniors
The School for Seniors opens for students 55+ at the Wesley Centre and offers a variety of classes as well as the opportunity for devotions and socialising. More than 400 people are waiting to enrol when the doors opened. Wesley School for Seniors continues to thrive to this day in Sydney’s CBD.
New initiatives on the streets
The Jesus Commune opens in East Sydney to continue the tradition of the Evangelist Institute and to witness on the streets on weekend nights. Student members also witness at JC’s Coffee House at Wesley Centre and conduct services at the Central Methodist Mission’s homes and hospitals. On Sundays they witness in the Domain.
Another milestone in 1972 was the opening of Vision Valley, a conference and outdoor adventure centre in north western Sydney for disadvantaged children. The Chapel on the site came from Upper McDonald and was removed stone by stone and rebuilt at Vision Valley, now called Wesley Vision Valley.
New employment initiatives
David Morgan Enterprises opens at Rydalmere to give people with disability the opportunity to achieve independence through meaningful employment. Named after David Morgan, a benefactor and Central Methodist Mission Executive Member, this service continues to this day, providing employment in a range of businesses including Wesley Packaging, Wesley Cleaning and Wesley Gardening.
Accommodation options grow
HC Foreman Lodge in Miranda opens in 1974 as an aged care facility. It is followed in 1975 by the addition of RJ Williams Lodge in Glebe, a low-care hostel for 82 aged residents. The FH Rayward nursing home also opens.
Prominent UK journalist and television presenter David Frost joins the Rev Alan Walker at the Spring Fair during his visit to Australia in 1974.