A colourful record     


Review by Gwenda Smyth (SHUC Elder)

When Graham Beanland came to Surrey Hills Uniting Church some years ago, he discovered that, though there were documents by the dozen and considerable pride in the church’s origins, there was no recorded history of its life. With skill and scholarship, he set about remedying this situation.

The book is a history of the Surrey Hills Uniting Church from the earliest days of the Wyclif Congregational and Wesleyan Methodist Churches. Timelines are included from 1884 and 1887 for the two churches respectively, up to the present day.

The 1880s were pioneering times in Surrey Hills and churches provided an essential framework for social and community life.

In the course of his work Beanland made some intriguing discoveries. He wondered why the Surrey Hills Methodist Church building, opened in 1915, was called the ‘Centenary Church’; nothing worthy of celebration had occurred in Victoria 100 years earlier. It emerged that Rev Samuel Leigh, the first Methodist missionary appointed to the Colony, had arrived in Sydney in 1815; the fact that there was no settlement in the Port Phillip District at the time did not dampen the Surrey Hills Methodist congregation’s enthusiasm to celebrate Leigh’s arrival.

After summarising their separate histories, the book records the events that led to the Congregational and Methodist Churches joining to form the Surrey Hills United Church approximately 18 months before the Uniting Church in Australia was inaugurated.

Stories of two significant pioneering families are included, together with biographical details and personal reflections for about 30 other families. Using many different voices, the book is a collection of available records, stories, reflections and photographs of a church’s life over the past 130+ years, its activities and people.

It is a valuable addition to our knowledge of those who went before, and of the two congregations which together evolved into the Surrey Hills Uniting Church.

The book is available from Graham Beanland for $25 or $35 incl. postage:
P: 9939 9931 or E:

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