The Methodist memory is alive and well in the Uniting Church in Australia. A large audience gathered to hear this year’s Sugden Lecture at Queen’s College, a former Methodist (now Uniting) foundation at the University of Melbourne. The College’s first Master (head) in 1887 was the Rev. Dr Edward Holdsworth Sugden, editor of a significant two-volume commentary on the Standard Sermons of John Wesley, and each year the College elects a Sugden Fellow in his honour. For 2012, the recipient was Dr Geordan Hammond, a member of the Church of the Nazarene, who gave the lecture on ‘John Wesley and Georgia: a High Church Anglican endeavour to restore Early Christianity’ in which he told the story of Wesley’s early experiences in Savannah in 1735-37.
Dr Geordan is Director of the Wesley Research Centre and lecturer in Church History and Wesley Studies at the Nazarene Theological College in Manchester, UK. Gathered with many historians, clergy and alumni of Queen’s were Professor Norman Young, who served on the World Methodist Council-Roman Catholic dialogue for several terms, now retired in Melbourne; and younger historian, Dr Joanna Cruickshank, whose PhD on Charles Wesley and his interest in healing was granted by the University of Melbourne.
Present also was Dr Elizabeth Wood-Ellem, whose father (Rev. Dr A. Harold Wood) and mother were Methodist missionaries on Tonga, where she was born, and whose life work has been the history of those islands and its people. Sadly, she died a week after this event, and the Queen of Tonga, Her Majesty Nanasipau’u Tuku’aho came especially for the memorial service. Dr Wood-Ellem wrote a major biography of the late and much-loved Queen Salote of Tonga. Professor Robert Gribben, a Fellow of Queen’s and chair of the World Methodist Council’s Committee for Ecumenical Relationships chaired the Sugden lecture.