Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Rev George William Cross (Part 4)

Photo found in the Pretoria Central Baptist Church's Diamond Jubilee (1897 - 1957) pamphlet.
With the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War many British residents in the Transvaal and Free State came to Grahamstown. A committee for the care of these refugees was formed and Cross, always ready to shoulder public burdens, consented to be its honorary secretary. The work was very exacting and consumed much of his time. Yet another honorary secretaryship he undertook when a memorial to the fallen was decided upon. With him in charge of the fund its success was certain, and he shared in the discussions which led to the erection of the beautiful memorial near the Cathedral. All through these years Cross was the honorary secretary of our Baptist Union and twice was elected to be its President. The wonder is, that he did not break down in health or lose his hold upon his congregation.
However, it was to a tired man, who confessed that the wheels of life were moving less freely that, in 1903, the call to Pretoria came. Ministers, apparently, had met with little success there and the prospect was enough to daunt a less valiant heart. With characteristic self-denial he decided to go. His decision roused the city and it expressed its appreciation of his honorary and unstinted citizen service by public farewells and generous gifts. For ten years he maintained a high-toned ministry that won for the church an honourable reputation.
During his Pretoria pastorate the invaluable Pension Fund scheme was unanimously adopted by the Assembly at Pietermaritzburg in 1910. It originated in a self-denying gift of Rev. E.P. Riemer, one of our German ministers, in 1938, who wished it to be the nucleus of a fund for invalided ministers such as he was. But, until Cross took the idea to heart, nothing more was done. Mr. T. Riemer, son of the originator, and the secretary-treasurer of the fun, writes: “Had it not been for Mr. Cross’ enthusiasm and perseverance I doubt whether a fun would ever have been established…The balance of the fund today after an existence of 18 years is £18, 337 1s 4d.
Baptist Church on Lambert Road
In 1913 he began a five years’ pastorate of our church in Lambert Road, Durban. His ministry here was wider than his people, for many visitors who knew him, or had heard of his fame as a preacher, attended his services. His people were unprepared for his resignation in 1918, and not only besought him to reconsider it, but offered him a six months’ holiday and release from all responsibility for the work. But he was sixty-seven years of age, and thought he ought to retire from the care of a church and preach as opportunities opened. So he adhered to his resignation.
“It is not in man to direct his steps.” He went by request to supply our church in Bloemfontein to two months. The deacons suggested a call. He refused to consider it. Then the church unanimously pressed him to be its pastor and, at length, he consented. Bloemfontein had always been a difficult sphere, and Cross found it to be the hardest field he had worked in. Encouragement came in an increasing congregation and spiritual fruits, and it was a joy to realise that he was not a spent force for Christ. An illness overtook him. From a sick bed he rose resolutely to conduct a deceased member’s funeral. A fatal attack of bronchitis followed, and he passed to the solemn troops and sweet societies of just men made perfect. “Thou hast made him most blessed forever, Thou has made him exceedingly glad with Thy countenance.”
Written by: Kevin Roy

No comments:

Post a Comment