More than 140 past and present members gathered at St Andrew’s Uniting Church in Berwick last month to celebrate 160 years of worship. Rev Wendy Snook particularly welcomed descendants of the early pioneers of the church and acknowledged the pioneers managed to establish the church through challenging and difficult times.
Ms Snook spoke of the early history of white settlement, when the local Bunurong people helped the new arrivals to find food when they were faced with starvation. Problems later emerged when the Indigenous population realised the settlers’ sheep were easier to catch than kangaroos.
Rev Alexander Duff from Northern Ireland conducted the first Presbyterian service in 1857 in a wattle and daub hut. It was a time when the dirt roads were widened for bullock drays to cart red gum logs from the area to Melbourne for building works.
A small wooden church building was erected in 1861 when Rev Duff was granted land for the purposes of the Presbyterian Church. The cost of the wooden building was 340 pounds.
As the Anglicans needed a place to hold church services, they were invited to jointly use the building with the Presbyterians. This shared arrangement proceeded for nearly 30 years.
Ms Snook reminded the gathering of the sacrifice made by early members of the church, and suggested they were great role models for people today.
She thanked everyone for joining in the celebration and thanked all who had assisted in preparing for the day.
The two morning church services were followed by a luncheon served by the ladies of the church and was a time of shared memories and renewed past acquaintances.