Vol.X No.XII Pg.6
February 1974

Australian Trip (Part 3)

Robert F. Turner

—(continued from page 5)— elders from Associated church) and I spent a week in Warners Bay confirming the souls of some I had baptized in 71, and seeking to encourage brethren there. The need for such is great among small isolated groups throughout Australia.

Came Saturday, and we packed and headed south to meet Harry at Sydney, in the home of the U.S. preacher, bro. Phil Morr. Phil and Pat (with two fine children) have hosted many many people in their five years in Australia, and manage when the difficulties seem insurmountable. They may have done as much for the Australian work from their home as Phils capable pulpit work has done, and there is a crying need for their replacement when they return to U.S. this year.

Sunday, Nov. 11, I was asked to preach in Merrylands, a suburb of Sydney. A small church there is the remnant of a group formed long before Americans of the 20th. century came to Australia. It resulted from rejection of digressive developments among 19th. century churches, and took a stand to function independently. Years of separation have made these brethren somewhat wary of newcomers or any kind of change-- and perhaps account for characteristics peculiar to these alone — but it has not hindered their love for truth. I spoke at the worship service, and again at the evening gospel service. The afternoon was spent with three families, in earnest discussion of scriptural principles as well as various customs and traditions that often separate brethren. But a happening in the evening service tells more than I could ever explain. I was aware of the worship-gospel distinction (we have it in parts of the U.S.) so did not preach to non-members nor offer an invitation that morning. However, when I noticed that the song announced to follow the evening sermon was an invitation type I felt I was on safe grounds to close the lesson in my usual manner. Let us arise and sing the song selected!

No one arose, no one sang! I hummed and hawed a bit, recircled the invitation, and repeated, Let us now arise and sing! Nothing happened; so a puzzled and embarrassed preacher took his seat. Then— the song leader arose, read the first verse of the song (a common custom) and lead the singing. Afterwards it was explained (with apology for not having warned me) that my job was to preach — it was the song leaders job to have the people arise and sing. It seems they had had earlier U.S. preachers, take over service, calling upon them for things they did not want to do— so, they put their foot down, so to speak. Now thats independence!

We were now seven weeks and over 10,000 miles from home, and welcomed our scheduled break. On Tuesday. Harry and I flew to Canberra, Capitol city, for a few days of doing nothing. I grew tired of the city and moved to a sheep station for two days, while Harry finished his break in Sydney (all this at our personal expense), then we were ready to tackle the last half of our Australian work. Ill report that in later issues, D.V. (RFT)