Australia

The gospel was preached, and a church service held for the first time, today, 232 years ago

Hey, today is a pretty special day in history. Right about … now, 232 years ago, the Reverend Mr Richard Johnson conducted the first church service in the implausible convict colony that would become modern Australia. And we’ve put out this little 15min Undeceptions ‘single’ to mark the event. Have a listen. Convicts at the time described Rev Johnson as the “physician of soul and body”, as he laboured in all the ways he knew how to care for the colony’s sick and poor, to assist in the best farming practises, to run all the schooling, to conduct hundreds of baptisms, marriages, and funerals, and to preach the central message of the Christian faith, all the while refusing to play the role of ‘moral policeman’ (as his secular superiors wanted). He might not have been as famous as the ex-slave-trader and writer of ‘Amazing Grace’ John Newton and anti-slavery parliamentarian William Wilberforce, but these two giants of 18th-century Christianity worked hard to get Johnson appointed to the colony for a reason: this mild-mannered Cambridge-trained Anglican priest would do anything he could, at great material and emotional cost, to be the physician of soul and body, for all. And his first church service on 3 February 1788 set the tone.

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