Portrait, possibly of the Rev. G. Wong, Methodist minister, as a boy, H2012.90/119
In the 1920s, Reverend George Wong, a Methodist minister, was Superintendent of the Collingwood Methodist Mission. Reverend Wong was renowned for his work at the Mission and for his illuminated lantern slides which contrasted both the grandeur and the poverty of Melbourne.
George Wong was the son of a Chinese father and an Irish mother, and began work with his father as a market gardener in Geelong at the age of 7. In his late twenties he served his probation as a Methodist minister at the Collingwood Methodist Mission and was ordained in 1908. Reverend Wong was stationed at a number of Methodist churches in Tasmania and Victoria during his career. He worked for four years at the Horsham Methodist Church, where he was fondly remembered, and then moved to the Collingwood Methodist Mission in 1924.
Here he dedicated much time to teaching students at the free Collingwood Mission Kindergarten, ministering to the congregation at the Collingwood church and delivering firewood to the poor. In one year the Collingwood Mission delivered 4,000 articles of clothing, 3,000 items of grocery, and 45 tons of firewood to the poor.
Man, wearing a suit and clerical collar, possibly the Rev. G. Wong, standing on a footpath near a gate, with wheelbarrow full of wood, H2012.90/106
The new mission church, Collingwood, IAN30/12/74/SUPP/237
On a return visit to Horsham in 1924, Reverend Wong delivered a stirring address about the desperate plight of families in Collingwood. The audience were clearly moved by a number of accounts and illustrations in the talk. While these illustrations have not yet been located, images of the Collingwood Mission work are below.
Group of school children in formal pose, in a school yard, with teacher, H2012.90/107
Man, possibly the Rev. G. Wong, with a group of nine children, each of them holding an orange, H2012.90/96
Large group of women, some nursing small children, in a church hall, minister (possibly the Rev. G. Wong) sitting in the back row, H2012.90/108
Reverend Wong was not the first to present this illustrated talk, known as the ‘Lights and Shades of City Life’. Reverend A R Edgar, the founding superintendent of the Melbourne City Mission, travelled far and wide from Queensland to New Zealand to tell the story of poverty in Melbourne. His slideshow, subtitled ‘Slums and Boys Rescue Work’ was delivered with the aid of a limelight projector. This complex device (also known as a ‘magic lantern‘) required a projectionist to operate. An astounding 100 slides were presented to the audience. Accounts were published in various Victorian newspapers, including The Maffra Spectator, The Horsham Times, The Mildura Cultivator. The Broadford Courier and Reedy Creek Times wrote:
The descriptions etc., were followed with keen interest by the audience, and Mr Edgar’s witticisms and genial good humour produced hilarity, while the pathetic and touching stories told stirred the hearts of his hearers. The lecture was a fine one, and from a delivery, pictorial, and practical standpoint was a distinct success, and amply repaid any inconvenience caused by those who made it their business to attend.
In 1928 George Wong completed his term in Collingwood. He served at the Brighton and Ballarat Methodist churches before he finally passed away in Ballarat in 1934, aged 58. The Mission church remains in part at 25 Sackville Street, Collingwood.
- Do you know more about this remarkable man?
- What are your memories of life in Collingwood?
- Can you tell us more about magic lanterns, limelight projectors and illuminated talks?
- Please use the box below to provide your comments.
- Discover images of Reverend George Wong in the State Library Victoria catalogue.
A century of Victorian Methodism, edited by C. Irving Benson, 1935.