Launceston South Church closes after 180 years

South Esk Cluster Chair Hilary Parry closes the door at Trinity Uniting for the last time flanked by (clockwise from left) Rev Michelle Cook, Craig Osborne, Mary Rothwell and Clarrie Pryor.

South Esk Cluster Chair Hilary Parry closes the door at Launceston South Uniting for the last time flanked by (clockwise from left) Rev Michelle Cook, Craig Osborne, Mary Rothwell and Clarrie Pryor.

After 180 years of meeting the spiritual needs of the people of Launceston South, the South Esk Uniting Church Cluster closed the doors on the Uniting Church building in Margaret St, for the final time with a closing service in late October.

In the final sermon, the acting synod liaison minister Rev Michelle Cook said the service was about saying goodbye to the church building but not the many memories people had .

“We are being asked to let go of the past and embrace the new beginnings and the good things which lie ahead for us,’’ she said.

“As we leave (for the last time) we pause to recognise the things which have special meaning for us.’’

The closure service heard from members who had worshipped at the church for many decades.

Clarrie Pryor has attended the church for more than 90 years. He said one of his happiest memories was the joint Christmas services with the nearby Church of Christ, which packed the main space and required the overflow to occupy the overhead gallery space.

Mr Pryor said the congregation would take such memories with them.

“When you change the address of the church you don’t leave God behind,’’ he said.

Mary Rothwell married her husband, Tony, in the church 50 years ago. Mrs Rothwell remembered that the amount of food being prepared in the nearby hall for the reception blew the power, which meant the wedding service was held in candlelight.

One of five generations of her family to have worshipped at the church, Mrs Rothwell said the site was the scene of many of her youthful activities – from tennis on the courts to Bible study in the hall.

The Margaret St site, on the corner of Balfour and Margaret Streets, covers about 3550 square metres. It includes the church building, a hall, manse – which is used as the Presbytery of Tasmania’s administration office – and a car park.

The original wooden Margaret St Methodist Church was erected on the site in about 1837 at a cost of 250 pounds after the Launceston Circuit of the Wesleyan Missionary Society decided that it was “desirable to have a place in which to hold religious services in the south end of the town.” The current church building dates from 1918.

The site has been sold to a local developer.

The Presbytery relocated to remodelled office space at the Pilgrim Uniting Church, in Paterson Street, last month. The Launceston South congregation will worship at Scotch Oakburn College’s Briggs Hall until its finds a permanent new home.

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