Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Darwin Cathedral

Our Patronal festival was an inspiring service. I even enjoyed the choir singing Mozart.

The church was packed for the service which took about 2 hours and the front was draped with huge red banners and red ribbons on many of the pews.
The preacher was the Dean of Darwin Cathedral, the Very Reverend Jeremy Greaves.
He was very easy to watch (mea culpa) and also to hear.

There was laughter as he told us he appreciated wearing the cope in Sydney but not always in Darwin. It is now mid-winter, minimum temperatures in Darwin falling to about 18'C (64'F) while average maximum are still in the low 30'sC (80'sF).
In Sydney on Sunday the temperature struggled to 15'c (59'F).
He, however, also referred to the plight of homeless Aborigines who sleep in the grounds of the Darwin Cathedral and he had pitied the homeless sleeping in the porch of the courthouse next to St James.
He told us how, in his previous parish at Katherine, every night he had to deal with trouble in the Aborigine camps surrounding the church and one night, feeling rather grumpy after a long day, he had sent his wife to the door when the bell rang about 10.30pm. She called him and he found a man who had been living in the grounds for about 3 months wanting to present him with a bark painting as he was returning to his tribal grounds. Jeremy admitted he wept.

In referring to St James the Great he told a possibly apocryphal story of a church in England dedicated to St James the Less. It was down a side street and, wanting to advertise its presence, mounted a neon sign on the roof. Unfortunately what was seen from the main street was 'St James the Less Anglican". His comment that he did not want that to be taken as a reference to our diocese had us in stitches.
On a more serious note he lamented that liberal churches were not always passionate in expounding our beliefs in the same way as the conservatives are.

Searching for his photo (more mea culpa), I learnt about the history of the cathedral and the diocese.
Darwin was once part of the Diocese of Carpentaria, at that time the largest (in area) Anglican Diocese in the world. The Diocese of Northern Territory was inaugurated in 1968 and the first bishop was Bishop Ken Mason.
Bishop Ken Mason usually sits a few pews in front of me each Sunday. I have heard him preach once and I was introduced once at Morning Coffee. He is now rather frail and was on our prayer list recently. I had not realised he was the first.

I googled Darwin Cathedral and was please to see:
At Christ Church Cathedral we seek to share God’s unconditional love of all people regardless of age, race, sex, marital or family status, sexual orientation, ability or wealth. Every endeavour is made to make Christ Church a safe place for all. We discourage being judgemental, but seek to affirm one another as equally loved by God.

The cathedral/church has had a chequered history.

In the severe air raid of 19 February 1942, the church was hit by a bomb that landed at the back of the vestry, blasting out the windows and riddling the roof and walls with shrapnel. Fortunately records and valuables had been trucked inland.

However on Christmas Eve, Cyclone Tracy bore down on Darwin.

About an hour after the midnight service, the church-along with much of the City of Darwin-was rubble. Only the porch was left standing and the church hall was gone. So was the new rectory, built in 1970, and the old rectory, dating from 1917, then the home of the curate and his wife of a few weeks.

This was in the time of Bishop Ken Mason.

A new cathedral has now been built.

My only visit to Darwin was in 1968. I am not fond of visiting hot places but I would like to see the cathedral.


Unknown said...

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to St James, although I was very glad to get back to the warmth of Darwin. If you're ever in this part of the world, please let me know... we'll 'do' lunch!! Shalom and Salaam, Jeremy

Unknown said...

Lovely to hear you talk about my dear friend Bishop Ken