Posted by: preshist | April 16, 2013

‘Witness and Response’, Presbyterianism through the Lens of a Camera

"Young men on their way to Easter Camp stop by a wayside cross erected by their camp mates".   Later the cross was given a symbolic touch, showing Christ crucified and Christ Risen and Reigning.

“Young men on their way to Easter Camp
stop by a wayside cross erected by their camp mates”.

A packed-out gathering  was given a  rare treat  recently  in  Dunedin,  a  showing of  dramatic  images  of  the life of  the church  going  back  a  hundred  years or more.

Myke & Mission photos

Photographs presentation – Mission photograph of Vanuatu (New Hebrides)

Missionary  pictures  once  shown  on the  famous old magic  lanterns  showed  why Presbyterians  were hailed  as  the most  informed folk  in the country  about  the wider world; about  for example,  the  New Hebrides,  China,  India.   A  film-strip ‘The Heart of the Matter’ about the New  Life Movement  in  the  1960’s  showing  the  rapid expansion of  the church and its ministry   into  new  housing  areas,  the   suburbs,  the  work camps of  the huge  hydro-electricity projects.

A new Sunday School in a new Suburb early 1950s

A new Sunday School in a new suburb early 1950s

Fascinating  to  see the  Church  at  the cutting edge of  technology at that  time, and inspiring  to  see the  optimism  and  determination  to galvanize   congregational  energies  throughout  the country  to finance and support  so many new  initiatives.

Women Elders serving Communion at People's Night, General Assembly c.1960

Women Elders serving Communion at People’s Night, General Assembly c.1960

It was a special treat to have  one of the pioneer photographers, Keith Lyon  present,  who had  specially  come down  from Christchurch for the  event, and was delighted to be walking, as  he said  through ‘memory lane.’  Great also, to have Stuart Vogel from Auckland  in the  audience.  For this is  a national  resource, which we can tap into to  explore  our rich and encouraging heritage.

Publicity Committee Audio Visual Library in the Presbyterian Centre, Christchurch, c 1960

Publicity Committee Audio Visual Library in the Presbyterian Centre, Christchurch, c 1960

It  was  certainly   a different   world, a  different  time,  one of our early films even  being shown to  Members of Parliament  and  commended by  Prime Minister, Walter Nash.  Roars of laughter from the audience, greeted,  too,  many  of the  captions  which reminded us  how  far we have progressed  from the  male dominated  church of  just  two generations  ago.  But it was also a wake-up call,  reminding us  of the imaginative and compassionate outreach of  our Church  in our distant and not  so distant past.

'Fathers and Brethren' listening attentively at the General Assembly, 1952

‘Fathers and Brethren’ listening attentively at the General Assembly, 1952

Believe it  or not  we have in our  Archives no less than 180,00  visual images: photographs, slides,  film-strips,  videos, which are being carefully preserved, thanks to the  support  of  the General Assembly and the Synod  of Otago and Southland.

This occasion  was a  first ever  presentation of  a  tiny fraction of  them  by Yvonne  Wilkie,  our Archivist,  and  Mike Tymons, who curates  the  collection. Let’s  hope  there  are more  such occasions, and  that  they can be made available to the whole church.

We also welcomed Anne Jackman  the new  Director  Presbyterian  Research Centre, incorporating the Archives Research Centre and Hewitson Library of which we will hear more about down the track.

by Peter Matheson

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Responses

  1. Pedantic, but… Check the date for the “Fathers and brethren” GA photo – I don’t think it will be 1952 because I am pretty sure my father is in the second row on right hand end, and he was ordained at the end of 1955.

    • Thanks Anne, it maybe 1958, an Assembly in Auckland? and yes it does look like your Dad. There are also some women present which suggests its after 1955.


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