Bethany Centre's New Post Natal Unit Opens
Salvation Army Territorial Commander, Commissioner Ross Kendrew, Members of Parliament Belinda Vernon MP representing the Minister of Social Welfare, Deputy Leader of the Alliance Party Sandra Lee MP, Arthur Anae MP, Rev Ann Batten MP and Gilbert Miles MP
Distinguished guests and friends of Bethany.
Bethany, a place near Jerusalem, was known for a place of healing. Jesus used to go there for respite.
The Bethany Centre has been here since 1913. It is the oldest centre of its kind in New Zealand.
Over that time it has faithfully served our community by providing both respite and healing to many women at a time when for many they find themselves vulnerable and alone.
To all that have served Bethany over that time I thank you on behalf of our city.
Society has not always been kind to our single mothers. Certainly at the beginning of this century, women were unfairly, cruelly categorised and judged harshly. It was a harsh time and life for them.
They were required to carry the responsibility and shame of their situation while the men generally were not held responsible or accountable for their children.
In the beginning women were sent to Bethany or they came to the centre to hide from society’s harsh judgement. They met with hard work and prayer to sustain their existence until their baby was born.
In those days the trend was for the babies to be adopted. Today that has changed. Mothers are being supported in their choice to keep their babes.
Because of this Bethany today also offers day and residential care for pregnant women. Extensive programmes on preparing for labour, learning about childbirth, caring for themselves and their babies, building up self-esteem and self-awareness, budgeting and general lifeskills are taught to the new mothers to help them enjoy and fully participate in motherhood and life in the community.
The Salvation Army is always there for us in our time of need. It meets the practical and spiritual needs in our society.
The Army has always been prepared to squarely face and support the difficult situations we all might one-day encounter. It doesn’t matter whether it is the derelict alcoholic who has lost hope, the abandoned mother and children, the desperately vulnerable young drug addict or the pregnant woman with no support and no where to go. The Army is always there for us. The Officers find the resources and a safe place for us in a sometimes unseeing and uncaring world.
The environment is non-judgemental, professional and gives unconditional caring.
Today we recognise the vision of early officers. In 1897 Magdalene Home was opened.
Over a hundred years later we continue to salute the vision of Army for their ongoing recognition of the changing needs of women in our society. The timing of this opening also coincides with another important day for women. Tomorrow is the anniversary of the suffrage for women in New Zealand, 19 September 1893.
A lot in this world has changed but many of the issues for women and children remain the same.
This new Post Natal Centre at Bethany I know will provide the same healing and respite at what is a critical time in a woman’s life. This is a very important service for women and society.
It gives me much honour to be part of the proceedings here today and share with you all in asking for God’s blessing on the women and babies who seek support and comfort here.
May they find hope and serenity, love and laughter, in this special place.
I have much pleasure in declaring the Bethany Centre’s new Post Natal Unit open.