Our college principal, John Tucker said after the Queen’s death last week: “We [Baptists] have a complicated history with the British Crown. Baptists in England emerged in reaction against the union of state and church. But Queen Elizabeth, on a personal level, clearly had a deep faith in Jesus, which we rightly celebrate.”

A quick delve into the publicly available digital version of the New Zealand Baptist newspaper shows that in the mid-twentieth century we had great admiration for the Queen, her position and purpose. The Digital Baptist (1876-2011) is available here: baptistresearch.org.nz/digital-baptist

In anticipation of the Queen’s visit to New Zealand in early 1954, she made the front cover of the New Zealand Baptist!

Below is a reproduction of the main article from the January 1954 New Zealand Baptist (page 3), ending with “a prayer on our Queen’s going to her peoples” written for her 1954 visit, which could now equally be prayed as she has gone to her Creator:

THE ELECT LADY 

The Queen is with us to begin the year. Her gracious presence lends courage to us all, and brings a deepened sense of unity within the Commonwealth. Such demonstrations of loyalty as have marked the Royal Tour have confounded the critics. Few facts are more significant in this age of conflicting ideologies and growing nationalism than the British Commonwealth of Nations. We believe the person of the Queen has strengthened the ties which bind all who owe allegiance to the Throne.

As she and her husband move about this furthest outpost of her Empire there will be loving hearts to greet her. Her solemn vow will be recalled: "I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service, and the service of our great Imperial family to which we all belong. But I shall not have strength to carry out this resolution alone unless you, too, join in it with me, as I now invite you to do. I know that your support will be unfailingly given." Such self-dedication, we feel sure, will be matched by the renewed loyalty of her people. 

THAT OTHER PRESENCE 

A Royal Visit is a rare event. It is soon past, leaving only a memory, albeit a pleasant one. But there is Another Who because of what He is, stands above all kings and queens and is omnipresent. His dedication also we recall, "For their sakes I sanctify myself ", and His promise, "Lo, I am with you always". As we venture into the New Year may we each experience a sense of the accompanying Presence of the Saviour. 

WHAT OF THE FUTURE? 

This thought is uppermost as we face the days ahead. Of this we are certain: the Church's message to the world must still be Christ. The Queen with us ushers in a New Year. Christ's coming began a new era of hope and reconciliation. A royal person may unify a nation, Christ came to bring peace and brotherhood among all men, for in Him there is neither Jew nor Greek, all are one. 

Christ is the answer to the world's needs. There is no higher example, no more significant teaching, no greater power than Christ's, and He alone is able to offer men forgiveness. 

We have faith to believe that Christ will outlive all evil and establish His kingdom. And we shall see the fulfilment of that promise, "And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it, and kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it." 

A PRAYER ON OUR QUEEN’S GOING TO HER PEOPLES 

Love is no burden, brotherhood no chain;

A living league of nations is most blest 

Power eternal touching mortal brain, 

Grant to this Sovereign lady as she goes, 

Light, from Thyself, to kindle and remain 

A fire of joy, a bracing in all test, 

A gladness in all days and in all woes.

Guard her, and bless, and bring her home again. 

(Prayer by John Masefield)

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