Reports of meetings on Māori Church matters, 1872-1888
My next visit was to Samoa, in which group of Islands I landed at Apia, the chief settlement in Upolo, the largest of the three principal Islands forming the group. Here, I may state at once, there is a clearly defined sphere for a clergyman of our Church. There is no European Missionary now residing there, and only an occasional evening service is given in a building called truly, though somewhat forbiddingly, "the foreign Church." The community is composed of very varied religious elements, but a clergyman of tact and diligence would combine them.
Here as at Tonga, no one could reasonably impose on us or on any body of Christians an injunction not to receive or admit those who come to us spontaneously, from whatever previous teaching they come. If the multiplicity of temptations constitutes an additional claim on us to supply our people, however few in number they may be, this would seem to operate here more than in most situations in the South Seas.
Settlers, traders, and clerks, officials, and professional men, unvisited, unwarned, uncomforted, and unshepherded, seem to say, though in small numbers and isolated positions, "Come over and help us."
We gladly recognise the marvellous success and evident blessing which has attended the labours of the Missionaries of the London Missionary Society, who, nevertheless, will scarcely find fault with us for failing to see that their congregational system has the same elements of permanency as that which has been so long tried in the Church from the first to the present day. I may mention one incident which shows the kindly feeling of the Missionaries towards my mission. Hearing that I proposed to have a celebration of the Holy Communion, the Missionary at Malua spontaneously directed that the vessels for that Sacrament which are used in King Malietoa's Church, at which the King was attending that morning, should be lent for use at my service at 11 a.m. I am sure that if we recognise one another's worth So far as we can, we shall have a better prospect of union, so far as that is desirable, than if we stand aloof from one another.
I baptised 14 children, brought to me by parents and friends; in one case, a family of five, both parents being members of our Church who had not had an opportunity, owing to absence when any chaplain visited the Island, all vessels not carrying chaplains.page 6
Were this in my own diocese, I should not hesitate to send a clergyman at once, and I do not think the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel has on its lists a more distinct claim than this. The objection of the fewness of the numbers is counter-balanced by the influence of their position, and by the evils which have arisen in a place where there has been much lawlessness arising from the want of a definite government. It is the sad old story of native authority subverted, and that of necessity, without any other to put in its place.