Moree Uniting Church is marking its 150th anniversary

PLACE OF WORSHIP: In 1977 the Methodist church combined with the Presbyterian and Congregational denominations to form the Uniting Church in Australia, which has celebrated its 40th anniversary this year.
PLACE OF WORSHIP: In 1977 the Methodist church combined with the Presbyterian and Congregational denominations to form the Uniting Church in Australia, which has celebrated its 40th anniversary this year.

The first church was built in 1867 by James Greenaway. 

It was a slab structure, erected on a two-acre block occupying half of the land bounded by Balo, Heber, Frome and Gwydir streets, the church being built approximately on the site of the present manse. 

Some of the land was sold to the shire council for the building of the Memorial Hall.

The old parsonage (site of present National Bank) was destroyed by fire.

The second church, a timber building, was erected in 1895. This served for 43 years, later being moved to Gravesend to make way for the present building. It was blown down by a cyclone in 1949.

The present brick building, built by Hetherington and Pritchard, was one of the earliest brick structures seen in the town and was opened in 1938 by Rev. W.H Jones, secretary-general of the Methodist Conference and Rev. Carl Dempsey, superintendent minister at the time.

In December 1959 the current hall was opened, having been built in just three months. It is a memorial to the fallen of both World Wars.

TIME CAPSULE: This marked the church building's 50th anniversary in 1988 and is in the church porch.

TIME CAPSULE: This marked the church building's 50th anniversary in 1988 and is in the church porch.

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In 1974 the old parsonage was replaced by a new brick manse.

In 1929 the Mosquito Creek Union Church was built, to be used by all denominations. 

In 1924 the North West Mission was formed, centred in Moree. 

In 1977 the Methodist church combined with the Presbyterian and Congregational denominations to form the Uniting Church in Australia

The church is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

MOREE RURAL & COMMUNITY COUNSELLING 

The counselling service was initiated by the church on a full-time basis in July 1987 with Graham Rowland as counsellor and under the direction of a community-based committee.

Financial support was provided by the Moree Parish, federal and state governments, and donations from other organisations and individuals. 

FIRE: This happened on September 11, 2005, forcing a renovation of the sanctuary area, including removal of the pulpit.

FIRE: This happened on September 11, 2005, forcing a renovation of the sanctuary area, including removal of the pulpit.

CHURCH FIRE

On September 11, 2005, a fire was discovered in the church.

It had been lit in the porch and inside the back door. It destroyed the notice board and some hymn books, along with a table and pew.

But it was a blessing in disguise because we then took the opportunity to renovate the sanctuary area, including removal of the pulpit, levelling of the floor, and removal of the communion rails.

LADIES CHURCH AID 

It is believed the Ladies Church Aid was formed in Moree in the 1920s. This group was prominent in the community. Every year a fair was held to raise funds, which ran for three days. There were many stalls, a flower show and cooking competition which were very competitive.

COMMUNITY GARDEN

COMMUNITY GARDEN: This began in 2010 and was made possible with donations from Moree locals and grants.

COMMUNITY GARDEN: This began in 2010 and was made possible with donations from Moree locals and grants.

Led by Rev. Robert Buchan and an enthusiastic group of congregation members, an idea was hatched in 2010 to transform the old tennis court into a community garden.

After it had been grassed, the area has been used for church picnics and games days, but not much else.

From the first working bee in October the area changed in 12 months into a community garden that grew to include 16 garden beds and a garden storage shed, all of which were made possible with grants received from the ABC Open Garden Scheme of $1500 and Synod Mission Resource Fund of $3300, and donations from Moree locals, along with generous support and hard work from the committee and congregation members.

The first garden beds were taken up by residents from Fairview and clients of Life Without Barriers as well as community members being weekly regular gardeners. 

Cherylea Pritchard has been the garden co-ordinator since the project began and continues to motivate people.

In April 2011 the official opening ceremony was held and special guests included Moree Mayor Katrina Humphries, Moree Plains Shire Council general manager David Aber, and local members of the Open Garden Scheme, but the honour of cutting the ribbon was given to Mrs Tamie Fraser (wife of former prime minister Malcolm Fraser) who was president of Australian Open Gardens.

In July 2011 a grant of $15,000 was received from Uniting Care Ageing, Hunter Central Coast and New England, which enabled the completion of the rest of the garden beds, a children’s area including cubby house and sandpit, water tanks, compost bins and a gazebo. 

All the work was done at working bees by supporting members of the congregation and committee members.

God certainly blessed this garden project with grants that enabled the building to happen.

Through word of mouth, the garden became known in the community and some people outside the church have become involved. 

The quality and abundance of produce has been wonderful, some of which was sold at a stall in front of the church, or given away to the Women’s Refuge and Salvation Army, to people at the main street Christmas carnival and monthly markets. 

Some Sundays, members are able to take home fruit or vegies for a donation.