EMMANUEL – GOD WITH US
E- Eminent and immanent
M – Moving the king‟s residence
M - My home is your home
A – Always and forever
N – Near and far
U – Us
E - ETERNITY
L – Let‟s Celebrate
E – ETERNITY
WEEK 7 E – ETERNITY
Talk to the children about their week and pray
about any concerns. Take up offerings
Read the story of Arthur Stace “Mr. Eternity”
What can I do that will make my life count for
Make mosaic Eternity poster to decorate foyer
Do the colouring/craft activities
Make a circle and pray for the week ahead
He was not what many would see as a great leader. He was not a politician or a king. He was a
man who lived here in our own country – an unassuming man. A shy man. A man who came
from the humblest of backgrounds.
Yet he was someone who, in the strength of Jesus Christ, was determined to make his life count
He would start out early, usually before dawn, and he wandered through all the streets of
Sydney. Every morning he was somewhere else: Wynyard, Glebe, Paddington, Randwick,
He was a frail little man, bent, grey-haired, only 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighing just 7 stone.
He always wore a grey felt hat, tie and a double-breasted navy blue suit.
Sometimes in the dawn light he would be seen around Wynyard Station. He would nod to the
drunks still left on the pavement, trying to keep warm under newspapers.
As he walked, every so often he would stop, pull out a crayon, bend down and write on the
pavement in large, elegant copperplate – the word Eternity. He would move on a hundred yards
then write it again, Eternity, nothing more, just one simple word.
For 37 years, he chalked this „one-word sermon‟ – and it is estimated he wrote it more than half a
He did not like publicity. For years, these Eternity signs mystified Sydney. They were an enigma.
Sydney columnists wrote about it, speculating about the author and, over the years, several
people walked into newspaper offices and announced that they were the author. However the
real man kept quiet.
The mystery all came clear in 1956 – and the man who uncovered it was the Rev Lisle M
Thompson of the Burton Street Baptist Tabernacle in Darlinghurst.
Arthur Stace was a member of that church. He was one of their prayer leaders and also served
as the church cleaner.
One day Lisle Thompson saw Stace take out his crayon and write the famous “Eternity” on the
pavement. Stace did it without realising that he has been seen. Thompson said: “Are you Mr
Eternity?” and Stace replied, “Guilty Your Honour”.
Lisle Thompson wrote a tract (called “The Crooked Made Straight”) telling the little man‟s
extraordinary story. Journalist Tom Farrell had the first interview. He published it in the Sunday
Telegraph on 21 June 1956.
Arthur Stace was born in a Balmain slum in 1884. His father and mother were both alcoholics.
Two sisters and two brothers also were alcoholics and they lived much of their time in gaol.
Stace used to sleep on bags under the house and when his parents were drunk he had to look
after himself. He used to steal milk from the doorsteps, pick scraps of food out of garbage and
shoplift cakes and lollies.
He had almost no formal education. At the age of twelve he became a state ward. When he was
fourteen he had his first job – in one of the coal mines around Balmain – and his first pay cheque
he spent in a hotel He became a wandering drunk, living in a fog of alcohol. He went to gaol for
the first time when he was fifteen.
He was in his twenties when he moved to the seedy inner suburb of Surry Hills.
During the First World War he enlisted in the 19th Battalion, went to France and returned home,
having been gassed and now half blind in one eye.
Back in Surry Hills, Stace took up his old habits His alcoholism was so extreme he was in danger of
becoming a permanent inmate of Callan Park Mental Asylum.
He told a reporter from The Daily Telegraph that in 1930 he was in Central Court yet again. The
magistrate said to him:
“Don‟t you know that I have the power to put you in Long Bay gaol or the power to set you free”.
“Yes Sir”, he replied, but it was the word „power‟ that he remembered. What he needed was the
power to give up drink.
He signed the Pledge – but he had done that many times before. He went to Regent Street Police
Station and pleaded with the Sergeant to lock him up.
“Sergeant, put me away. I am no good and I haven‟t been sober for eight years. Give me a chance
and put me away”.
… to Gospel
This was during the Depression. A metho drinker, dirty, badly dressed, had to be the least likely of
any to get a job.
Outside the Court House there was a group walking up Broadway. The word had gone around that
a cup of tea and something to eat was available at the Church Hall up at St. Barnabas‟. In the 1930s
one would put up with almost anything for free food.
The date was Wednesday August 6th 1930 – and it was a meeting for men conducted by
Archdeacon R.B.S. Hammond, the Rector of St Barnabas‟ Church.
There were about 300 men present, mostly down and outs, but they had to endure an hour and half
of talking before they received their tea and rock cakes.
Up front there were six people on a separate seat, all looking very clean, a remarkable contrast to
the 300 grubby-looking males in the audience. Stace said to the man sitting next to him, a well-
known criminal: “Who are they?”
“I‟d reckon they‟d be Christians”, he replied.
Stace said: “Well look at them and look at us. I‟m having a go at what they have got.”
Arthur Stace knew that his life was in a mess. He knew that he needed to change. And he knew that
he needed help. After the service was over, he crossed the road to Victoria Park where he sat
under a tree and committed his life to Jesus Christ.
Over the next few weeks, Stace found that he was able to give up drink and he said:
“As I got back my self respect, people were more decent to me.”
So he found a job for the dole, working at the sandmills at Maroubra one week on, one week off at
£3 a week.
It was a few months later in the Burton Street Baptist Tabernacle at Darlinghurst he heard the
evangelist, the Reverend John Ridley. Ridley was a Military Cross winner from World War I and he
spoke about the Lord Jesus Christ and the forgiveness that can only be found in Him.
Ridley told his audience that men and women everywhere must think about Eternity and where they
will spend it.
“I wish I could shout ETERNITY through the streets of Sydney.”
Stace, recalling the day, said:
“He repeated himself and kept shouting „ETERNITY, ETERNITY‟ and his words were ringing
through my brain as I left the church. Suddenly I began crying and I felt a powerful call from the
Lord to write „ETERNITY‟.”
I had a piece of chalk in my pocket and I bent down there and wrote it.
The funny thing is that before I wrote I could hardly have spelled my own name. I had no schooling
and I couldn‟t have spelt „ETERNITY‟ for a hundred quid. But it came out smoothly in beautiful
copperplate script. I couldn‟t understand it and I still can‟t.”
Stace claimed that normally his handwriting was appalling and his friends found it illegible.
He demonstrated this to a Daily Telegraph reporter. He wrote ETERNITY across the pavement
gracefully with rich curves and flourishes, but when he wrote his own name “Arthur” it was almost
“I‟ve tried and tried but „ETERNITY‟ is the only word that comes out in copperplate”, he said.
After eight or nine years he did try something else – “OBEY GOD”, and five years later, “GOD
OR SIN” and “GOD 1st”, but finally he stuck with ETERNITY.
He had some problems. There was a fellow who followed him round and every time he wrote
ETERNITY this other character changed it to MATERNITY. So he altered his style to give
ETERNITY a large, eloquent capital E and that solved the problem.
The City Council had a rule against defacing the pavement and the police “very nearly arrested”
him many times. “But I had permission from a higher source”, he said.
He lived with his wife, Pearl, in Bulwarra Road, Pyrmont, and this was his routine –
He rose at 4:00am, prayed for an hour, had breakfast, then he set out for the suburb he had in
mind and arrived there before dawn.
He took his message every 100 yards or so where it could be seen best – then he was back
home around 10am.
First he wrote in yellow chalk, then he switched to marking crayon because it stayed on better in
Whenever he travelled, he did the same – and he wrote Eternity during trips to Newcastle and
Wollongong and even Melbourne – and on the footpaths of country towns, going as far as
Cessnock and Wellington.
Helping people know Jesus
But writing Eternity wasn‟t all Arthur Stace did to help men and women come to know Jesus.
On Saturday nights he led gospel meetings, with Open Air Campaigners, at the corner of
Bathurst and George Streets – just across from the Cathedral. At first he did it from the gutter but
in later years he had a van with electric lighting and an amplifier.
Stace eventually became a member of St. Barnabas‟ Broadway, where he had first heard the
gospel in 1930.
When the Rector of St. Barnabas‟, Canon RBS Hammond, died in 1946, Stace was one of five
people who were invited to speak at his funeral. That was still nine years before it became public
that he was “Mr. Eternity”.
So, what should we think of Arthur Stace?
Was he an eccentric?
Maybe he was in some ways – but consider this. In the eyes of this world, he counted for little.
His background, his education, his social status – all weighed against him.
But then he met Jesus. And he wanted everyone to pause and think about how they would spend
Would it be with Jesus? Or would it be without him?
Half a million times, Arthur Stace bent down and wrote that word “Eternity” on the footpaths of
our city. And it made a difference. It made a difference to generations of Sydney-siders. I guess
that it is only in heaven that we will know how much difference.
Arthur Stace died of a stroke in a nursing home on July 30, 1967. He was 83.
He left his body to Sydney University so that the donation given to the family could go to charity.
He was finally buried at Botany Cemetery.
A fitting monument
There were suggestions that the city should erect a plaque to his memory. One suggestion was
that there should be a statue in Railway Square depicting Stace kneeling, chalk in hand.
In 1968 the Sydney City Council decided to perpetuate Stace‟s one-word sermon by putting
down permanent plaques in “numerous” locations throughout the city. But a team of City
Commissioners stopped the idea. They thought it was too trivial.
For weeks there was angry debate in the Letters to the Editor columns. One reader believed
Mary Anne Smith, who gave us the Granny Smith apple, was far more worthy of recognition.
But finally Arthur Stace did get his plaque.
It happened ten years after his death and it was due to Ridley Smith, architect of Sydney Square
next to St. Andrew‟s Cathedral. He set the message ETERNITY in cast aluminium, set in
pebbles, near the Sydney Square waterfall. The Sydney Morning Herald‟s Column 8 said:
In letters almost 8in high is the famous copperplate message ETERNITY. The one word sermon
gleams in wrought aluminium. There‟s no undue prominence. No garish presentation. Merely the
simple ETERNITY on pebbles as Arthur Stace would have wanted it.
That monument is still there.
But perhaps the most fitting memorial to Arthur Stace came on 1st January 2000 – as, via television
– two billion people saw that word “Eternity” in the copperplate handwriting of Arthur Stace, on the
side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
The point of all this is quite simple:
Do you think that you can do nothing of value for the Kingdom of God? You‟re wrong.
If you think that the Lord cannot use you for his kingdom and his glory, then think again.
You don‟t need money, or education, or a place in society to come to Jesus. And you don‟t need
those things to make your life count for Eternity.
We can do a lot worse than to be girded to action by the example of that humble Christian man,
Assembled from various sources to coincide with the millennium celebrations in 2000. A prime
source was various transcripts of a book by Keith Dunstan, which is apparently out of print.
Photographs of Archdeacon RBS Hammond and the St. Barnabas‟ Wednesday evening men‟s
meeting were published in “He That Doeth – The Life Story of Archdeacon R. B. S. Hammond,
O.B.E.” by Bernard G. Judd, published in 1951 – now out of print.