This coming New Year’s Eve Sue and I will celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. It’s our Coral Anniversary apparently, which makes buying an appropriate gift a bit tricky. New Year’s Eve is a strange day to get married (friends had pinched the Saturday a few weeks before to tie the knot), but it does mean it’s hard to forget your anniversary. Or so you would think. One year I did, but to my great relief, so did Sue – both of us remembering a week or so later. Whoops.
2023 has been a year of significant anniversaries for Wesley Mission. Back in March we celebrated the 60th anniversary of Lifeline with a special service in the Wesley Theatre. It was in Darlinghurst at 5pm on the 16th of March 1963 that the first Lifeline switchboard was turned on. The first help-seeker called a few minutes later, with more than a hundred calls responded to over the ensuing 24 hours. Since then, Lifeline has responded to more than 21 million calls in Australia, and mushroomed into a world-wide movement traversing 60 nations, saving countless thousands of lives every year.
In October we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the David Morgan Centre (DMC), our disability employment service based in Rydalmere. David Morgan, who donated the land on which the centre is located, was a businessman, mountaineer, committed Christian and a congregation member of Wesley Mission. Our lunchtime anniversary celebration was very special as staff, family members and supporters gathered together. One of the (many) things I love about DMC is that of out of our 85 or so staff, 21 have at least 20 years of service, 10 have at least 30 years of service, 4 have at least 40 years of service. And next February, Terry will celebrate 50 years of unbroken service, undoubtedly Wesley Mission’s longest serving current staff member, and perhaps the longest serving staff member of all time!
Then, just this past weekend, we celebrated the 100th anniversary of Wesley Dalmar Carlingford. It was in April 1923, after outgrowing the site of our children’s home located in Croydon (named Dalmar), that Sister Florence and Sister Maud and the children travelled on horse drawn drays, accompanied by a dog, two cats and a parrot to take up residence at the new Dalmar home, located on farm land donated by the Winn family, and built through the generosity of thousands of generous Methodists.
Our work serving children in need began in 1893 in Woolloomooloo, moving to Croydon in 1900, and then to Carlingford in 1923. Over recent decades our work has spread across NSW through our Wesley Dalmar out of home (foster) care, family preservation and so many more vital and life-empowering services – making Wesley Mission one of the most significant providers in the state.
These three significant, yet very different anniversaries marking the establishment of legacy Wesley Mission services, share some common traits. Each service arose from soft-hearted compassion – for children in need, those marginalised because of their disability, and for the desperate, needing a listening ear. Each was born from an open–handed vision – a willingness to step boldly and with purpose. Each was sustained with hard feet, with resilience and perseverance – overcoming obstacles, learning from mistakes and pressing forward no matter what – with the ultimate goal of doing all the good possible, recognising that every life matters.
CEO and Superintendent, Wesley Mission