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George Woolnough

George Woolnough, 1916


1860, PAGE 345




On Monday evening, 22nd inst., and ordination service was held in the Wesleyan Church, Surry Hills, when the Revds. R. W. Orton and G. Woolnough were ordained to the Wesleyan Ministry.


Shortly after 7 oclock, the President of the Conference, the Rev. S. Rathbone, gave out a hymn and engaged in prayer. The Rev. T. Buddle, Secretary of the Conference then introduced the two young ministers, stating that they had been duly examined and found well acquainted with Christian theology and of good report. The Rev. Dr. Jobson, British Representative, addressed the congregation stating that the young men now to be ordained had passed through their probation and were now submitted to be set apart for the work of the ministry by the imposition of hands. They were employed as local preachers, received on trial as probationers in the Conference, and were this day examined respecting their conversion, qualifications, and call to the ministry, and were now presented to them. He had examined them himself that day, and he was glad to find them duly qualified, in every respect, for the sacred office to which they were to be set apart. He regretted that there was not here what they had at home, a theological institution, where upwards of one hundred candidates were under instruction for a period of three years. He then called on the candidates to give an account of their conversion to God, and their call to the work of the ministry.


The Rev. G. Woolnough said, that from childhood he had been favoured with a pious home training, and with religious instruction in a Wesleyan Sabbath school. Under the influences of the Holy Spirit, these things had early led him to feel his sinfulness, and to seek for the mercy of God through Christ. Of the certainty of his acceptance with God, he had no doubt. Some time after his conversion, he felt it his duty to call sinners to repentance. He trusted that his labours had not been in vain. Four years since, the voice of God and his church called him to devote himself to the full work of the Christian ministry. He dared not disobey. He felt that dispensation of the gospel was committed to him, and with St. Paul could say, "Woe os me if I preach not the Gospel." His present desire and determination were, God being his helper, to labour in the Church of Christ to the end of life.


The Rev. R. W. Orton had been from the first, the subject of deep religious impressions and was early convinced of sin under the ministry of the word, and resolved to give himself wholly to God.

(More of his speech was recounted here.)


Dr. Jobson then read the portions of scripture, gave the exhortation and proposed the questions usual on these occasions.


The ceremony of laying on hands was then performed, in which Dr. Jobson, the President, Messrs. Eggleston, Manton, Butters and Buddle took part. The sacrament of the Lord's Supper was afterwards administered to the newly ordained ministers, and to those ministers who assisted in the service. After singing the 433rd hymn, the Rev. J. Eggleston, ex-President, proceeded to give the ordination charge. It was marked by the Rev. gentleman's well-known ability and earnestness, and was listened to throughout with deep interest and attention. The service which was truly profitable and solemn, was concluded at half-past 9 oclock, with prayer and benediction.

This picture was published with the Town and Country Journal article below.






BATHURST CIRCUIT Valedictory Service On April 9th, the friends and admirers of the Rev. G. Woolnough, M.A, gathered around him to express their appreciation of his abilities as a minister of Jesus Christ and the Methodist Church, and their grateful sense of the services he has rendered to this circuit during his three years incumbency. First, a tea-meeting was held in the schoolroom, when six tables were surrounded by the visitors. The tables were gratuitously provided by Mrs. E. Webb, Mrs. G. Palmer, Mrs. J. A. Wark, and an army of bachelors. The public meeting was afterwards held in the Church. The chair was occupied by E. Webb, Esq., M.L.A. It was the intention of the promoters of the service that the new organ should be one of the most frequent and eloquent speakers, but as the organist failed to keep his appointment, the instrument was seen but not heard by the audience; which was the more deeply regretted as Mr. Woolnough had been one of the chief workers in the erection of the organ. Addresses highly eulogistic of Mr Woolnoughs character and work were delivered by the Chairman; Revs. R. Caldwell and F. W. Ward and Messrs. W. C. Kelk, S. H. Gannon, J. C. White, and others. The speakers accredited him with unusual financial ability, displayed in his manipulation of the various monetary affairs of the circuit. His labours for the material progress and prosperity of the circuit were said to be attended with great success; and the good things which he had completed were minutely detailed and enlarged upon. As a preacher, very high testimonies were borne to his power by several of the speakers. His influence in the district, as seen especially in the formation of two or three new circuits, was also mentioned. In the course of the evening the following address, which was neatly engrossed on parchment was read and presented, the Chairman, at the same time, handing Mr. Woolnough a purse of seventy four sovereigns.


Bathurst, 9th April, 1874

To the Rev. G. Woolnough, M.A.

  Rev. and dear Sir, - We, the undersigned, on behalf of the members of the Wesleyan Church and congregation in the Bathurst Circuit, beg to tender you our hearty thanks for the labours you have undertaken, and for the diligence and zeal you have manifested in prose cutting (sic) the work of your Divine Master during the three years of your itinerancy in Bathurst and its vicinity.

  And now, as you are about to remove from this circuit and labour in another part of Gods vineyard, we beg that you will accept the accompanying purse of sovereigns as a small token of our esteem and affection. We trust that the blessings of the Great Head of the Church will rest upon you and your beloved wife and children wherever your future lot may be cast; and we earnestly pray that your efforts to win souls for Christ in the Metropolis, where you are now appointed to labour, may be crowned with abundant success.

  We remain, reverend and dear sir,

                                                                        Faithfully Yours   

[Here follow the signatures of the Circuit and Society Stewards, and several officers and members of the Church.]


Rev. Mr. Woolnough, in acknowledging the address and testimonial, remarked that he had not expected to receive either. He looked for reward to his success of his work in the circuit. When he first entered the circuit he came with the earnest hope of being able to serve the Church, feeling strong to do the work which might present itself. He certainly found as much work as he anticipated, the performance of which had obliged him to have all his wits about him. When he came he was impressed with two things. First, he was struck with the thoroughly substantial nature of the work which had been done before he came; and secondly, the work which had been done seemed to make it necessary for those who should came after to do more. He had tried to make himself worthy of his predecessors, and to leave some impression behind him. He would like to vindicate himself as to one or two things which had been referred to.


It had been said he did not preach like other men; but then he felt it was only fair to say that other men did not preach like him. They knew that in the Church there were some apostles, some prophets, some pastors, and some teachers. If he were to attempt to preach as some men preached he knew he would most miserably fail. Some preached from one stand-point, and some from another. There were some who preached from   metaphysical stand-point, and amongst that number was the late Rev. Mr. Menzies, of Victoria, who by his style of preaching obtained for himself great popularity. The power that man possessed was Gods gift in him, and he did a work which will never be forgotten. Another man would preach from a sentimental stand-point, appealing to the feelings; that was Gods gift in that man, and very often his success and popularity was very marked. Another feels that if he brings the pressure of the truth of God upon the people he will be successful, looking upon its effect upon them as the effect of the magnet upon the needle. This was his (the speakers) way of preaching, and it was Gods gift in him. This was Gods order, and if he had not been as successful as other men, his non-success must be attributed to his having left the truth too much to do its own work. It was wise that Gods truth should receive all these different methods of handling.


In referring to the financial work which had been mentioned, he remarked that it struck him that the time was very propitious for working, and he believed so much could not be accomplished in the next three years as had been accomplished in the past. Acting upon this conviction, he had laboured hard to advance the material wealth of the Church; and his labours in this direction had somewhat interfered with his house to house visitation. He trusted that his friends would accept this explanation, and believed that he acted for the best. He wished to vindicate himself for having taken an interest in things outside the Church things political, mercantile, and municipal. As a minister he was not bound to sacrifice his position as a citizen, and thinking he had the power of privately and publicly interfering in these matters, he had done what he thought proper.


It only remained for him to thank them for the kindness which they had shown him during the three years of his residence among them, and he did not know that he had left any other circuit with as much regret as he now left the Bathurst circuit. It was not necessary for him to ask on behalf of his successor any kindness whatever; for those who did not already know would soon become acquainted with him when he came. He sincerely hoped that nothing he (the speaker) had said or done would militate against the temporal or spiritual success of the church in Bathurst, and he would always be glad to hear that the work was progressing. The speaker than referred to the great assistance which had been rendered to the church by the Chairman, and after again thanking the members of the church for their expressions of good-will towards himself and family, he assured them that so long as he lived he would not forget them, either if his affections or in his prayers to God.





The Rev. George Woolnough, M.A.


We this week present our readers with the portrait of the recently elected president of the Wesleyan Methodist Church of New South Wales and Queensland, his immediate predecessor being the well-known and eminent preacher the Rev. Dr. Kelynack. We need scarcely say that the distinction of being elected to preside over so highly respectable and influential an organisation is a very high and honourable one indeed, and we may add that while previous clergyman who have had the honour conferred up them have proved themselves worthy of it, there are none more worthy to succeed them than the gentleman whose portrait is now before us. Mr. Woolnough, now in the prime of his manhood, being in his 44th year, is by birth an Englishman, having the ancient borough of Bury St. Edmunds, otherwise St Edmundsbury, in Suffolk, as his birthplace. But not only is he English by birth, he is also one in character and feelings. His native town is in the midst of an agricultural district, and one in which the trade is confined to agricultural products, there being no manufacture carried on there except those of butter and cheese. We allude to this, as first impression in some measure will account for certain estimable traits noticeable in many people as well as the subject of our notice, we refer particularly to that love of country and British freedom which is much more rarely found possessed by those whose first impressions are received amid the smoke and racket of mills and other manufacturing appliances. The Wesleyan president is a liberal in every sense of the word, in religion as well as in politics, and when we say he is this, and at the same time a true Englishman, what higher praise could we bestow.


Mr Woolnough was first seized with the "lust for learning" by contact with Cassells celebrated serial called "The Popular Instrauctor". But for its lessons in languages, mathematics, science, &c., his native town might still have been his home, and New South Wales without the good his presence has already brought, and the still greater good he, under Providence, is still to bring her. About the age of 20 years, he, with his family, came to Australia, a brother having preceded and probably by his reports induced them to visit this sunny land. Shortly after his arrival he was induced to offer himself as a candidate for the ministry in the church over which he has now been called upon to preside. His first scene of labour was Newcastle, where he remained about two years, during which he diligently pursued his studies, afterwards completed under the late Rev. B. Quaife, and at the Sydney University, where at the end of three years he graduated with a B.A. degree: two years subsequently the same institution conferred thew M.A upon him. Three more years, we believe, saw our M.A. studying for still higher honours, that of L.L.D.; but the labour, in addition to other onerous duties, was found too great, and the object had to be given up for a time at least; and a trip to England was taken four years ago; a twelve month of quiet rest was enjoyed, and health re-established. The idea, we believe, still clings to the student that he must complete his L.L.D. studies, having already accomplished three-fourths of the necessary tasks. Should he make the attempt, we trust he will be careful his health will not again suffer.


Mr Woolnough is now in the 25th year of his ministry, but we may tell this in his own words spoken at the conference at which he was elevated to the important office entrusted to him by his Divine Master:-

My address will be incomplete unless I give you a piece of my personal history. I have belonged to the Methodist church since I was 10 years of age, and have been an avowed member without a days intermission since I was a youth of 15. This year of my office will complete the 25th year of my ministry, so that in that respect also I am getting among the fathers; and now permit me to say that, during this year, I shall throw myself on your kindness, and shall be sure to take counsel with the wise, and ask the help of all who can assist me, nothing doubting that, as heretofore, in answer to the prayers of the church, the blessing of God will rest upon me that, in answer to prayer, that blessing will rest upon all our borders.


Mr Woolnough is a practical, sound, and common-sense rather than an oratorical expounder of Christianity, although his preaching by no means lacks either in the beauty of expression or forcible eloquence. Here, again, we shall let him say a few words on his own account, and they will do more to make our readers acquainted with the man, if not the minister, than we could possibly do by any writing of our own. The following is part of his speech made at the opening of the Newington College, at Enmore, on the 18th ultimo:-

Some of the speakers here today are sure to give prominence to what is called mental excellence, and others to what we call moral excellence. I will leave those special departments to them, and use my right as the first speaker to look over the entire area. David called upon all that was within to praise. Have we ever just thought of that all that is within one? Let a master look at a boy, and try to gauge all that is within him. Now, he is bound, if possible, to touch every faculty there. He has not educated that boy if he has charged his receptive faculties only, nor if he has developed only his synthetic faculties. The powers of analysis are there too; and more, there are genuine creative powers as well. You must teach them all, nor pronounce a boy dull until you are quite sure that the soil of his entire life is wanting in the conditions of a cultivated life. On the subjects best calculated to do this I cannot enlarge. But there are unfailing laws of harmony to guide us. Light is for the eye, sound is for the ear, sweets and bitters for the palate. These laws of harmony reach the mind. Religion, ethics, science and art appeal to their complementary powers of mind, and, as in some of the simplest efforts of life, our nature guides us here also; if we will allow her she will be our guide. A most important thing for me to keep in mind is the formation of a good and all-round character. The manifold repetition of any deed becomes a habit, and a collection of these habits becomes a character. Of necessity, character is as many sided as a soul. Every virtue is said to have its contrary vice, against which we easily take warning; but it is equally true that every strong virtue has its corresponding gentle virtue, which we are not unlikely to forget. And very great indeed is the influence exerted on young men by the standards of character which we set up. I cannot now debate on all these; but on one of them I am persuaded to say at least a word or two that is, on our social standard. One would like to know how it comes to pass that labour of the brain is so much more respectable than labour of the hand. Who has any right to say it is not honourable to receive the golden grain and the golden fleece almost directly from the hand of God, as to take golden fees from criminals, invalids and circuit stewards? You see there are two sides to the question. Labour of the hand has God for a paymaster, and labour of the brain is paid for after a vote in the House, or after the bill of charges has been taxed by the Master in Equity. Let us try to put down this kind of thing. Honour to whom honour is due, and honour lies in character, not in station. Let it be known, therefore, that in this place boys will be taught to love truth, to practice uprightness, to honour goodness, and that he is the best man who embodies most of the sublime spirit, and emulates most faithfully the unparalleled life of our Lord Jesus Christ.


Mr Woolnough attributes the "great honour" conferred upon him by his brethren to their belief in his "supreme faith in the genius of Methodism," and we think he has therein judged justly. He is as earnest a preacher as he is a thorough man, or as we said before, a thorough Englishman. There is no cant no white-chokerism about him, and it speaks well for his brethren that they have chosen for their bishop one who, while he is full of faith in his own church, is no bigot; and one also who is not afraid to speak out boldly for his Master, either in censure or approval, as he might find occasion. The times are such that men of progress, men of energy, and outspoken, are much needed in leading positions in our Christian churches. Not to make progress is to retrograde. While believing that something must be permanently fixed, yet when that something is secured, Mr Woolnough feels that the genius of his church constrains him to press its spirit forward into ever enlarging and ever increasing enterprises. He believes there are greater possibilities in his church than in any other; but he wishes all the possibilities of all the true churches to be energetically pushed forward.


During his ministry Mr. Woolnough has been placed in most of the important circuits of his church in this colony; including Yorke-street, Bourke-street, Redfern, Bathurst, Maitland, and Ashfield. The present Conference, at its early sessions, nominated him to succeed Mr. Kelynack in the super-intendancy of Bourke-street circuit; but at its later sessions he was unanimously appointed to succeed the Rev. G. Hurst as Clerical General Secretary for the Church Sustentation and Extension Society. In 1861 Mr. Woolnough married the eldest daughter of the late T. Cowlishaw, Esq., of Paddington.





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