In celebration of the first 50 years of the church, a book was published with the title: History of the first 50 years of the Anglican Church of St. Mary’s. In the introduction, the Vicar at that time, C. Fraser Withington, wrote about the changing landscape of the parish.
“As a lad I recall riding my bicycle to the outskirts of Camberwell from whence the country of the south dropped away to the creek, and to the east rose towards the hills. Scattered homes, paddocks, clumps of yellow furse, and the trees around Back Greek complete a mental picture […] Catechism and Communion, learning and doing, were already the essential basis of this life.”
But by the 1960s, the landscape had changed significantly, with “teeming traffic” and “the constant roar of vehicles”. Since then, St Mary’s has declined and revived, struggled and celebrated, and seen perhaps even greater changes than the first 50 years of its existence. The local demographic has shifted to include many migrant families, society has evolved in ever greater secular achievements, and contemporary thought has questioned and overturned every convention.
Yet, despite the passing of time and the changing landscape of our society that’s now well and truly into this postmodern and post-Christendom era, the gospel we preach remains the same. As the Apostle Paul reminded the Corinthian Christians some 2000 years ago, we must continue to hold firmly to the word that has been preached to us through the pages of Scripture, otherwise we have believed in vain. As the Apostle Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8:
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
The gospel of Jesus Christ that was passed on by the Apostle Paul remains the same gospel we continue to preach at Camberwell South. We do this because “salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
And so, as we celebrate a century of gospel proclamation here at Camberwell South, and look forward to the next century, may we continue to faithfully “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people” (Jude 3b). May we do so with “inexpressible and glorious joy” that is ours in Christ Jesus (1 Peter 1:8). And may our Lord and God continue to be pleased to use us to gather for him a people “from every nation, tribe, people and language” (Rev 7:9).