Some of you will be old enough (or young enough!) to remember two examples of important Australian visual media genius. The innovative and child-focused, adult-friendly 'Adventure Island' with an impressive and somewhat surprising cast, and the landmark launch of the Whitlam Labor "It's Time" campaign at the St Kilda Town Hall. Both were created and produced by Godfrey Philipp.
He did other things as well, but these are the best known and remembered. Adventure Island glistened with cinematic trickery and subtle innuendo, whilst "It's Time" rolled out after it's successful start, possibly for the first time politicians and the acting profession in an almost 'American' marketing coup, a national call to political change lead by popular known personalities touted to be thoughtful and intelligent enough not just to entertain us, but to change our thinking. And they succeeded. Whether or not the ABC of the day, upset by Philipp's genius, punished him by cancelling the former and then rubbing it in by continuing (by popular demand) to air the children's program for the next 10 years as repeats, we will never know. Philipp retreated from his creative and brilliant writing/producing disillusioned by the progress of modern programming and realism replacing creative fantasy in children's television.
Godfrey died at Sumner House recently, and on 23rd June we celebrated his extensive achievements in a memorial service on the ground floor of Sumner surrounded by some of the cohort of those days: John Michael Howson aka 'Clowny' and many others. There was music from the time and some hymns for the 'Sumner family', and some reflection beyond those great days of a man who died in poverty, in our care, loved by his little community here at the BSL. We play host those who never visited, but who needed to remember, and ones he loved and who loved him in his last years and months. Such is the tension and joy of the hospitality of the church and Sumner.
I confess I didn’t know him well, or indeed anything about his past, until after his death. A genius in our midst and for me, a person who took me into a little television wonderland in childhood, and managed to awaken my political interest in the same times. But this is the role of the Brotherhood, to support and sustain all those who through misfortune come to need our care at their most vulnerable.
The ministry we are called to is to honour the whole person, and Godfrey like his fellow residents is as deserving of our remembering as we do for everyone who lives and comes under our care.
Thanks to Sumner staff who do such a remarkable and loving service on our behalf.