Well, we are having fun. We are currently several days into what I can only describe as a “pilgrimage” to the Land of My Fathers, the Good SA of A, the Austral part of Terra Australis, the Great South Land, aka “South Australia”. Founded n 1836, my ancestors arrived here at the end of 1838 and got very busy establishing Hahndorf, the Barossa Valley, the Lutheran Church in Australia, and Fritz. None of them were in the wine business, but my great-grandfather did work for 18 years as a carter for Seppelts. Does that count?
First stop on the pilgrimage is Casa Pearce. The inestimable Pastor Fraser is now the Pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Flinders Street in the city. Bethlehem is celebrating its 150 anniversary next weekend and is the premier Lutheran parish in Adelaide (members of St Stephens, Flinders Street, may disagree…). Fraser and his family live in Burnside, a suburb at the feet of the Adelaide Hills. Burnside was settled in 1839, so is one of the oldest areas of town. Despite being a good distance from his ecclesial seat, Adelaide traffic being what it is (or isn’t) he really isn’t more than ten minutes away from his office in town. It is very beautiful here. Spring has come, and the fragrance of the blossums is everywhere.
Yesterday – the day of the fateful “hung Grand Final” (another story that I won’t go into just here – let’s just say, when I heard the result I laughed and laughed and laughed!) – I tried to escape from all things football by suggesting to my daughters and Fraser’s two eldest, Oscar and Francesca, that we all go into town. The itinerary was a simple one. We start at the Uni SA end of North Terrace (where Dad learned how to be a librarian), wander on down westwards past, around and through the University of Adelaide (Dad learnt Classics in that building, and History in that building, and Latin in the attic of that building), popped into both the Art Gallery and the Museum (both FREE!!! – a blessing when towing along four kids), past the State Library, Government House and Parliament House, then we did a u-ey (we had a discussion in the car the other day about exactly how to spell that word: you-ee, ew-ey, yewee…) and headed back east through Rundle Mall so the kids could look into all the shops.
On our way over here on Friday, we passed a number of vintage and veteran cars heading toward Adelaide, enough to make me wonder whether this might not be the one weekend every two years in which the famed “Bay to Birdwood” rally takes place. My father had taken me and my three brothers to the first “Bay to Birdwood” rally in 1980, and in the years that followed I actually rode in the rally several times with friends who had a 1928 Tudor Model A Ford and a 1913 Australian built Model T. I have always had a great love for these old vehicles – they were built at a time where beauty was an important part of design. Any way, a quick check of the internet on my Palm Treo told me that this weekend was indeed the B2B rally, the cars being due to leave West Beach at 9am on Sunday morning. Here was a chance to introduce my children to the joys of vintage and veteran motoring. They were keen, and Fraser’s two eldest were up for another expedition, so we were off from home this morning at 7am. There were about 1500 cars lined up ready to go at Barrett Reserve when we arrived, and we spent a very enjoyable couple of hours wandering around looking at the cars (and motor cycles – those old veteran bikes were made for the days when motorbike riders were REAL motorbike riders!) and talking to their owners before the rally set off at 9am.
We were due at Bethlehem for the 11am service this morning, so we had a few more hours to kill. Next step on the Pilgrimage then: Immanuel College, the old Alma Mater in Novar Gardens. This is where Dad lived for two years during his final years of schooling in 1982-3. It was just as I remembered it, only completely different. The place had sprouted buildings like mushrooms. In the place of the open wide lawns, there were now laboratories, tech rooms, concert halls, etc etc. There was a service going on in the chapel, nevertheless we got to take a look at the good displays of the history of the College.
Basically Immanuel has four phases: First phase was at Point Pass, the town where my Schütz ancestors settled north of the Barossa. My Grandfather was a farmer, and his father had no intention of sending him to the local college. The College then shifted from these back blocks into Adelaide, to the site and building that became (eventually) Luther Seminary, where I lived and trained for nine years. Then it shifted to Walkerville, to an old mansion that doesn’t exist any more. My father went to Immanuel at that campus in its last years. Then the campus shifted to Novar Gardens, where my mother was a student in its opening years. So in a way, we have had a connection with the college at all its stages.
Still with a bit of time up our sleeves, I thought we could pop out to Luther Seminary itself, now rather cheaply named “Australian Lutheran College”. Here I was able to show the kids the three locations on campus where I lived (both as a single and a married student), the pub where I had my first legal drink, the pine tree in Wellington Square up which I had my 18th birthday party, and the Library where I famously never became Librarian (despite being trained by the Lutheran Church as a librarian for that very purpose).
Then it was down to Flinders Street for the 11am service, the “bongos and banjos” service. No, seriously, it was just flute, piano and bass guitar, but if I wanted the organ I had to come back at 7pm that night. Assistant Pastor Matthias preached (they were celebrating St Michael’s Day – a few days ahead of time – in the attempt to ensure that the holy days are at least observed Lutherans tend to transfer them from weekdays TO the Sunday, whereas, to preserve the Lord’s Day, we do the opposite), and the girls got to go to communion.
I knew I would have to fit in Mass sometime today, so Fraser kindly offered to take me to the local Latin Mass parish for their 5pm Low Mass. I will discuss my impressions of this at a later point, but it was a good opportunity, and the first time since becoming Catholic that I had received communion kneeling at an altar rail rather than in a processional queue.
Then we were off to Bethlehem for the 7pm Eucharist. This time we got the organ. In fact, the organ has just been refurbished at a hideous but necessary expense. The organist for the evening was Andrew Ampt, and he did a superb job.
We had “Wachet Auf” (the third verse is all about Angels joining with men in worship), “Jerusalem the Golden”, and “Stars of the Morning” as hymns. The service was the traditional chanted communion liturgy. Very nice. Only my voice was running out. The only thing I can put that down too was herding the children this morning, and spending all afternoon talking with Fraser!
All in all, a very very good start to our pilgrimage. Tomorrow we set off for the Barossa Valley, although the kids have already booked me up to walk them up the kilometre or so of bush walk along the local creek. I AM having fun! And Cathy is too. She said that the one thing she wanted to do was sit and relax these holidays, and, given that I have had the kids with me most of the time, she has had the chance to do that.
And here is a special treat: video of Andrew Ampt playing the organ before the evening service: