A Newsletter of Opinion on Current Australian Christianity

Robert Harkness – 7


When the Chapman-Alexander mission visited Australia in 1909 the main party, including Harkness, were not able to visit Geelong so two other lesser known evangelists visited the city (Hemmingway and Nicholson). 

harkness at piano


A very successful four-month visit resulted, with Robert Harkness faithfully contributing in his special way.  Alexander paid tribute to the often-overlooked accompanist in these words: “When Robert Harkness, my Australian pianist, came with me he became converted and entered heart and soul into the work.  His accompaniments had that sincerity and reverence about them which give a religious tone to the meeting before a note had been sung.”

When the mission party originally came to Geelong in 1902, Alexander was in need of a private secretary.  At the Hitchcock home where he was staying, he met young Rupert Lowe from the Yarra Street Methodist Church who had just returned from the Boer War.

Rupert was recuperating from the effects of the fighting and agreed to become Alexander’s private secretary, a position he maintained through all the travels until 1909 when he resigned on good terms.

Alexander presented Rupert with a gold locket and a written commendation as follows:

“Dear, dear old Lowe …Your kind face and gentle, dependable ways always, but more than ever this time, leave a delicate rare perfume floating through my memory.  Thank you for your invaluable help on our last day in Melbourne.  I am sorry to say goodbye.  Take a good look at the inscription upon your locket. For ever, Charles M. Alexander – Second-Timothy Two-fifteen.”

This Bible verse referred to reads: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”

It is evident that Lowe took these words seriously and lived a solid Christian life because he officiated at the Yarra Street Methodist Church as Sunday School secretary (with an enrolment of several hundred children)  for a number of years following his return to Geelong.

Meanwhile the team continued its way around the Pacific visiting and conducting services in the Philippines, Korea, Japan and China in response to missionary calls from those countries.

NEXT ISSUE:  The tent collapses.


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