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Key Crusaders

Crusaders owes a great debt to countless men and women who, in the formative years, gave up time and energy to see Crusaders’ vision realised. It is because of their faithful service that Crusaders will reach over 2,500 students with the Gospel each week. Here are just some of their stories:

Dr. the Reverend Howard Guinness

Dr. the Reverend Howard Guinness arrived in Sydney in January 1930 on the invitation of J.B. Nicholson who hoped Dr Guinness would help to build gospel work in schools and universities. Dr Guinness soon recognised that the key to building university work was laying a foundation in the schools and for this purpose, The Crusader Union of New South Wales was founded and fully operational by September 1930. The motto of the Crusader Union at this time was ‘Witnesses unto Me’ from Acts chapter 1 verse 8. Six Crusader groups were started in the Independent Schools of New South Wales, building on many of the traditions of the independent schools. Saturday Night Meetings were set up in the 1930s as a way of providing a place for fellowship for young believers, and regular outings allowed boys and girls to mix. It was in 1930 that the first Crusader Camp was run and organised by Howard Guinness.

Extract from the ‘Vision of Eagles’ – A History of Crusaders (1930-1980) by Mrs Joy Parker

“Dr Howard Guinness was a very special person: he was a strong man, yet a lover of beauty who was not afraid to show it; he was a lover of music who wrote sacred songs and choruses; he was a man who enjoyed the laughter of life, even at his own expense.

He lived his life to the utmost every hour of every day.

He loved people and pierced through the surface deep into the heart. He was acutely sensitive to the embarrassment of others and quietly alleviated their distress. He was deeply concerned that all men might share his faith in Christ.

In 1949, Dr Guinness returned to Australia as Rector of St Barnabas’, Broadway, and later of St Michael’s Vaucluse. Throughout his life, Dr Guinness maintained his active interest in the Crusader Union. Just prior to his death, he inaugurated the Howard Guinness Speaking Trophy for Crusaders in schools and in the Senior Crusader Fellowship.

Like an eagle, Howard Guinness was far-sighted, swift to implement his vision and nurture the young men and women who were won for Christ.”

Ms Mary Nicholson

The Girls’ work began under the leadership of Mary Nicholson. Mary was meticulous in carrying out her duties. She chaired meetings; acted as Secretary and methodically arranged and kept copies of all correspondence; she also met and talked with Headmistresses. She ran camps; inspected sites and Boarding Houses and was never too busy to talk with a girl who applied for a Crusader badge or who needed help in her Christian life.

She had verve, imagination and a tremendous sense of humour. She knew how to communicate with girls. Her 1935 camp reports show these qualities: “After breakfast we had Camp Inspection which was an increasing strain on the Inspectors, as campers, strange as it may seem, become every day in every way, tidier and tidier.”

She was a woman of prayer with a tremendous zeal for evangelisation of girls in Independent Schools.

Dr Ian Holt

Dr Ian Holt, affectionately known as ‘Doc’, was part of the original school group at Trinity Grammar. Dr Holt helped for some years in the Saturday Night Meeting held at Burwood in his parents’ home. He also went as a leader on various camps. After medical work in Tasmania, the Army and later Victoria, he returned to Sydney in 1951 where he accepted a position on Crusader Council. In 1961 he succeeded Mr Braga as Chairman of the Council and held this office until the Annual General meeting of 1978 when he retired. Dr Holt took his position on the Council very seriously and tried to get to as many camps as possible even for a few hours to talk to the Director and leaders. In his conversations with boys and girls he would be listening to problems and giving concerned counselling. His concern for the Union was that it should live up to its motto “Be ye witnesses.” Today, Dr Ian Holt’s commitment to Crusaders is honoured through the Ian Holt Memorial Fellowship Program – this is the ministry and outdoor education apprenticeship for young men and women with the Summit Educational Camps division.

Paul White

Dr Paul White

Dr Paul White was a Camp Leader and a Saturday Night Meeting Leader. He spoke frequently at Crusader School and Saturday Night Meetings and at school chapel services and assemblies. Paul was the founding Secretary of the Crusader Union and one-time Chairman. As a missionary, he was very practical and through his books, records and tapes, he has won fame as the Jungle Doctor. Dr Paul White was a man who had a vision of permanent campsites for the Union and when the opportunity presented itself Dr Paul White mortgaged his own home to buy land for the current Crusader campsite at Galston Gorge.

Dr Leslie Parr

Dr Leslie Parr

Dr Leslie Parr was a man of vision and drive who owned land at Lake Macquarie. He envisaged that this land could be used for a youth group camp and decided to make it available to Crusaders for use as a ‘centre of youthful Christian activity’. This is the site that is now the current Lake Mac campsite.

Mr Hugh Braga

Hugh Braga was the driving force behind the development of the the Lake Mac and Galston campsites in the 50s and 60s. He used his gifts and skills as an engineer to plan the layouts of the campsites, clear bushland and erect the first amenities on the sites. He gathered together groups of enthusiastic young people in workparties and worked alongside them to build the campsites from the ground up. He even took annual leave from work before and after each workparty to erect or pull down tents.

Workparties were not his only contribution to Crusaders. He was also Chairman of Crusaders between 1957 and 1960, Chairman of Senior Easter Conference and a frequent speaker at schools and Saturday Night Meetings. He also established the ‘Share Partnership’ scheme in the 1950s.

Read the ‘Beginnings at Galston’ article by Stuart Braga.

Mr Jim Kidd

In 1964, James Kidd joined the staff of Crusaders as Boys Organising Secretary, whilst also maintaining his ministry as a lay-preacher in the Presbyterian church. “Initially, Crusaders could only afford to pay him a weekly salary of 21 pounds with a travelling allowance of 30 pounds per month on a mileage basis.” (Vision of Eagles)

A born organiser and highly innovative, Jim was known for his games on camp. He was also keen to see (and consume) plenty of well-cooked camp food (but not so much the salads). He was dedicated to getting alongside the boys under his care, listening to them and winning many of them to Christ before his resignation in 1975.

Jim and his wife, Noelene, moved to Queensland where Jim worked as a full-time Pastor in the Uniting Church. They have since retired.  It was terrific to meet up with them again when they joined us at the opening of the Galston Gorge Centre in 2005 and again in 2010 for the 80th Anniversary of Crusaders.