Newington’s Methodist Church Foundations
Micah 6:8 And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Newington is a Uniting Church school whose foundations are drawn from our Methodist heritage. In 1863, the Methodist Church, whose parishioners were referred to as ‘Wesleyan Methodists’, established ‘The NSW Wesleyan Institution’ on the banks of the Parramatta River on the ‘Newington Estate’. Of course, this name was later changed to Newington College and relocated to Stanmore. The first ever College president was the Methodist Minister, Reverend John Allen Manton and the first ever Headmaster was the Methodist Minister, Reverend Doctor James Egan Moulton.
In the late 18th Century, John Wesley founded the Methodist Church in England as a break away from the Church of England, or Anglican Church as we know it in Australia today. At the time, Wesley was concerned about the way the church of the day ministered only to those who were educated and who were wealthy. Wesley sought to bring the Bible teachings to people who weren’t educated nor wealthy, instilling a sense of justice. One of the main changes he brought about was teaching and preaching outdoors, rather than in a Church building, which meant that many more people, sometimes in the hundreds and even thousands, could come and hear the message.
He also taught a justice-focused Christian faith that highlighted that everyone was equally loved by God and should work for the good of others. As a result of his teachings, the Methodist movement was instrumental in establishing schools and hospitals for many working class people in Britain, something that at the time had only been reserved for the wealthy. Wesley was also instrumental in the abolitionist movement in Britain at the time, campaigning for the abolition of the slave trade. Wesley also preached about the equality of women, who at the time were poorly treated.
It was this justice focus in the Methodist movement that lead to Methodist missionaries coming out from Britain to far parts of the known world to teach people. Rev. Dr James Egan Moulton was one such Methodist missionary who brought these teachings to Australia, before moving to Tonga.
In Australia, we don’t really have an explicit Methodist Church because the Methodist Church of Australia united with other Churches to form the Uniting Church in Australia in 1977. As is suggested in our reading from Micah 6:8 “Do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God”; through these words we see that our Methodist heritage has played such an important role in establishing the foundations of our College.
Rev. Geordie Barham