VOGT, (ARTHUR) ERWIN (b. Kapunda, SA, 9 May 1907, d. 24 Nov 1987). Methodist minister and mission superintendent.
The son of hard-working and devout Lutheran parents (his father was a blacksmith and instrument maker), the most formative influences in Erwin Vogt's early life were his home and the local Methodist church. In his early teens he committed his life to Christ. At the age of 19 years he was accepted as a candidate for the Methodist ministry and was ordained in 1933. His early appointments at Alawoona, Wudinna, Berri, Port Pirie and Rose Park were marked by a strong leadership and evangelical preaching. His evangelical leadership led to his appointment in 1946 as director of the Methodist Thanksgiving Memorial Crusade, and in 1949 as federal director of the Crusade for Christ. During this period his preaching at youth camps and evangelistic rallies not only resulted in many conversions and renewals of faith but also revealed an increasing emphasis on social issues.
After a term as guest evening preacher at Maughan Church, the worshipping centre of the Adelaide Central Methodist Mission, he was appointed superintendent of the Mission in 1952. It was here that his two main emphases, evangelism and social concern, were developed to a high degree. The Mission provided an ideal platform for proclaiming salvation in the context of the vast social outreach of the Mission. His oft-repeated belief that 'man was indivisible - body, mind and spirit' led him to emphasise that salvation was concerned with the totality of human experience. He claimed that the worshipping congregation and the proclamation of the gospel were the essential bases of the welfare programs of the Mission. These were in the areas of aged care (where he pioneered the concept of individual living in the framework of group security), child care (where he dispensed with dormitory-type living to develop cottage families), and men's rehabilitation (where he argued that no man was irredeemable). During his 18 years as mission superintendent he also established the 'Life-line' 24-hour telephone counselling service, a successful family community centre, and a strong lay visitation program.
Through his superintendency of the Mission Erwin Vogt was chairman of directors of three South Australian radio stations—5KA in Adelaide, 5AU at Port Augusta and Whyalla, and 5RM in the Riverland in which the Methodist Church had controlling interests. He was also a foundation director of Television Broadcasters Ltd. He believed in the use of mass media to proclaim the gospel. His radio ministry—the 7pm service from the Mission Church was always broadcast on the three stations—was unique in Australia. Many lives were changed and testimonies received as the result of this ministry. He also used the media to make statements on issues of community and national importance. He was heard and heeded by leaders in government who often consulted him on social welfare proposals.
Erwin Vogt was president of the Methodist Conference in South Australia in 1957, a member of the Australian General Conference from 1948 to 1963, chairman of the Billy Graham Crusade Committee for SA in 1959 and chairman of the Council of Charitable Relief Organisations for 19 years. After his official retirement in 1970 he served for a year as preacher and consultant at the Christchurch Central Mission in New Zealand.
Minutes of the South Australian Methodist Conference (Adelaide, 1971)
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Content © Evangelical History Association of Australia and the author, 2004