Ray Arthur explains why CMS is starting a new partnership in North West Australia
Australia was in the sights of CMS and at a meeting on November 13 1786 the question was asked “What is the best method of planting and promulgating the Gospel in Botany Bay?”. The answer was seen in the appointment of gospel centered clergy such as the Rev Richard Johnson and a little later the Rev Samuel Marsden.
Marsden became the senior chaplain to the colony and “apostle to the Maoris of New Zealand and the Aboriginals of Australia” (quotes from ‘A History of the Church Missionary Society of Australia’).
In 1908 CMS-A appointed their first missionary to indigenous people in Roper River (NT). CMS-A has expanded Indigenous ministry in the NT which continues throughout the Territory today. From this experience, and its concentration on equipping people for cross-cultural ministry throughout the world, CMS is in a good position to respond to the request of the Anglican Diocese of the North West Australia, and in particular of the parish of Broome, for help in building God’s church throughout the Kimberley Region.
As CMS-A with the Rev Tim Mildenhall investigated the need and possibility of a partnership with CMS it was apparent that there was an urgent need to provide training and discipleship to our Indigenous brothers and sisters if there is to be a sustained Indigenous church in the Kimberley Region. We talked with local church leaders and people involved in missions and it was very clear that within the Kimberley Region there is no current evangelical and reformed group which provides training and discipleship for the next generation of Indigenous church leaders.
The CMS Vision towards 2020 is simple – a world that knows Jesus.
We aim to do this by:
1. reaching gospel-poor peoples for Christ, through evangelism and church planting,
2. equipping Christian leaders for church and society, and
3. engaging churches in cross-cultural mission.
While there have been many “missions” to most of the Indigenous communities throughout WA, for that matter Australia, there are very few churches within these communities which are equipped to grow God’s church into the future.
As CMS takes up this new partnership we are excited but certainly know the need for God’s church to be supporting this new venture. Do pray with us as we seek to equip Christian leaders within Indigenous communities so that they perpetuate the growth of God’s church and even then become a sending church engaged in cross-cultural mission.
Ray Arthur is the General Secretary of CMS in WA, and was once Rector of South Hedland and Port Hedland.