Wesley celebrates 125 years of community service

Local residents queueing for relief in the Wesley Church yard.

Local residents queueing for relief in the Wesley Church yard.

GAVIN BLAKEMORE

This month marks 125 years since the Central Methodist Mission was created in response to the growing social needs in Melbourne.

In 1892, the Methodist conference established CMM – which went on to become Uniting Wesley – as part of Wesley Church. Rev Alexander Robert Edgar was appointed Superintendent Minister.

In his first week Edgar led a deputation of bootmakers and tailors to the Premier’s office to call on the government to amend the Factories Act and combat labour exploitation of workers

Within months, the CMM established a number of community services, including a night shelter for men and food relief for the poor, and started a Pleasant Sunday Afternoon.

The CMM also created Wesley Sisterhood to organise visits for those in slums, prisons and hospitals as well as assist with Sunday school and Christian Endeavour.

The Wesley congregation also grew from its original 20 families and within four years boasted more than 500 members and 4500 public worshippers.

Goodwill Industries 1933 to WW2 -established with anonymous 5000 pound donation -recycled food clothes and hhouse items

Goodwill Industries 1933 to WW2 -established with anonymous 5000 pound donation -recycled food clothes and house items.

Over the next 125 years Wesley continued to meet the needs of vulnerable people in Melbourne. Following the creation of the Uniting Church in Australia in 1977, CMM changed its name to Wesley Central Parish Mission.

Another name change came in 2009 when the organisation was rebranded as Wesley Mission Victoria before it merged with other UnitingCare agencies in Victoria and Tasmania in 2017 to become part of the Uniting network in Victoria and Tasmania.

Names may have changed but the mission to support the most vulnerable and marginalised remains as relevant as ever. The needs of our community are still there and the church, volunteers and workers continue to play an essential role in ensuring that these services can flourish today.

Gavin Blakemore is Mission and Ethos Partner (East Division) of Uniting Vic.Tas and former director of mission of Wesley Mission Victoria (2013 – 2017).

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