The Central Methodist Mission, founded in 1885 by the Wesleyan Methodist Church, became a major provider of welfare services and ministry in Sydney and across New South Wales. It developed Dalmar Home in the early 20th century, and was involved in the establishment of the Royal Flying Doctor Service. It ran children's camps for young 'Couriers of Christ'. In 1963 it set up Lifeline telephone counselling services, the first in the world. It set up the Bernard-Smith Children's Home in 1968.
The Central Methodist Mission had its origins in the Methodist Church, which began conducting services in Sydney from 1812. In 1885 the Methodist Church, which was losing members, resolved to take on the name Central Methodist Mission and take on a new purpose, through evangelism to convert men and women to Christianity and serve the needs of people. The congregation grew rapidly with this message.
The Central Methodist Mission ran Waverley House, which later moved to Croydon and became Dalmar, before moving again to Carlingford. It also set up Alexandra Rescue Home and Hope Haven. It ran children's camps at Woodford and other sites from 1948, calling the young people it recruited 'Couriers of Christ'. It owned the Crusaders' Camp at Otford, where Aboriginal children from Croker Island and the Northern Territory were housed after being evacuated during World War II.
In 1977, when members of the Uniting, Methodist and Presbyterian Churches formed the Uniting Church in Australia, the Central Methodist Mission was renamed the Wesley Mission.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Lonely People', Australian Women's Weekly, 19 April 1961, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article55473382; Wesley Mission 200 Years Pioneering Care: Celebrating the bicentenary of Methodism in Australia, Wesley Mission, 2012, https://web.archive.org/web/20140719125406/http://www.wesleymission.org.au/200years/history.asp; About Wesley Mission, Sydney - The Church with Three Names, Wesley Mission, Sydney, https://web.archive.org/web/20120326060654/http://www.wesleymission.org.au/About/Our_History/church_with_three_names.asp; Director : Steven McGregor; Producers: Anna Grieve and Danielle MacLean., Croker Island exodus [videorecording (DVD)]., Jennifer Crone Productions; ABC Program Sales, 2012.
Prepared by: Naomi Parry
Created: 17 March 2011, Last modified: 1 November 2017