The Hobart City Mission, founded in 1852, and the Launceston City (Town until 1889) Mission, established in 1854, were modelled on the London City Mission. Their object was to extend the knowledge of the gospel to those inhabitants who did not attend their place of worship. Missionaries visited homes, urged church attendance and distributed religious tracts, but desisted from proselytising for any particular denomination. The prevalence of drunkenness among the poor was the greatest problem confronting early missionaries.
The Hobart City Mission established a Ragged School in Watchorn Street in 1853. Services were conducted in churches, chapels and schoolrooms before the present Mission building at 50 Barrack Street was opened in 1911. The Mission, the oldest in the Commonwealth, also conducts the Glenorchy City Mission.
The Launceston City Mission held services in a hall in the wharf area from 1883, then in Cornwall Square from 1896 to 1906. From 1910 the Mission occupied a building, previously a hotel, at 114 Wellington Street, where it also ran a men's home. Services were first held in the former Primitive Methodist Church at 46 Frederick Street in 1942 and after an adjacent office was opened in 1953, this complex became the Mission's headquarters. The Mission has operated a residential drug recovery programme at Evandale since 1997.
The city missions, two separate organisations, seek to provide assistance to all who have a physical, emotional, social or spiritual need. Paid staff and dedicated volunteers deliver many services, including emergency relief, crisis accommodation, prison visits, retail outlets, low cost meals, befriending and counselling to those in need of a helping hand.
Further reading: Hobart City Mission, 132nd Annual Report, 1984, 150th Annual Report, 2002; B Valentine, Launceston City Mission 1854–2004, Launceston, 2004.