Church and community to join in bicentenary celebrations

Church and community to join in bicentenary celebrations

A major thanksgiving service to celebrate the bicentenary of Methodism in Australia will be held on July 15, 2012 at the State Theatre in Sydney.

The significant community work Wesley Mission is known for today has its roots in the pioneering care begun by the first Methodists in Sydney in 1812. In the ensuing years they initiated many of the welfare services we know today in areas such as aged care, homelessness and family services.

Mark Scott AO, a senior Officer of Wesley Mission and Managing Director of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, will join Wesley Mission Superintendent the Rev Dr Keith Garner in hosting the event, with contributions by The Hon. Barry O’Farrell MP, Premier of New South Wales and The Hon. Tanya Plibersek MP, Federal Minister for Health.

The service, Celebrate 200, will also feature a multimedia presentation and a performance by acclaimed Australian singer and entertainer Debra Byrne.

The service will be preceded by a procession — a March of Witness — from Martin Place to the State Theatre beginning at 2.15 pm. Those taking part will include Wesley Mission staff, church and community leaders, volunteers and supporters.

The event at the State Theatre begins at 2.30 pm. It is a free event and tickets can be secured by visiting www.wesleymission.org.au/200years.

The bicentennial celebrations began on March 6 this year to mark the day in 1812 when the first Methodists met in The Rocks to plan the church’s future. The celebrations will in fact continue until 2015 which is the anniversary of the arrival in Sydney of the first Methodist Minister — the Rev Samuel Leigh — from England.

One of the highlights of the July 15 event will be the launch of a special book produced for the bicentenary. Today’s people Today’s story, will be launched by CEO the Rev. Dr Keith Garner and will be available for sale at the event. Alternatively, visit www.wesleymission.org.au/200years after the event.

The richly-illustrated publication touches on the origins and development of community care services by the early Methodists, with its main focus on the work of care being carried on today — and into the future — by Wesley Mission. New South Wales Governor Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir has written the foreword to the book.

In July, there will also be a special bicentennial edition of Wesley Mission’s magazine, Wesley Impact!, which will contain many historical and other features devoted to 200 years of Methodism in Australia. Other events this year include the release of a DVD on the life of John Wesley produced by Wesley Mission and filmed on location in Britain.

Wesley Mission has also launched a dedicated bicentennial website — www.wesleymission.org.au/200years — with background, a historical timeline, news about special events and information on how to buy the commemorative book.

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