1867: Presbyterian Church, Melton, Victoria.

The Presbyterians of Melton had previously held their services in a wooden building known as the “Union Church.” which was used by all of Melton’s Christian denominations until they had erected their own.

The foundation stone of the Presbyterian church was laid on the 27th December 1865[1] but it would be nearly two years before it would open for services and the proposed tower and spire in the original designs never eventuated

The stone for the church was quarried free of charge from the nearby property of a “Mr. Corr”[2], who was the first headmaster of the Melton Common School, secretary and treasurer of the Melton Cemetery Trust, Treasurer of the Wesleyan Church and Deputy Registrar of births deaths and marriages[3].

 The Presbyterians held their annual Soiree in the old Union church on the 8th October 1867 and later proceeded to the new incomplete church. Of the windows it was reported;

“…The windows of the church are particularly elegant, especially the principal one at the back of the pulpit, which is fitted with stained glass of a very rich description…”[4]

A month later the Age newspaper published an article specifically mentioning the Ferguson & Urie company of North Melbourne as the makers of the stained glass window in the liturgical east end;

“THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH AT MELTON is nearly completed, the glaziers being engaged with the windows. The Bacchus Marsh Express praises the stained glass, the design and colors being beautiful. “Messrs Ferguson and Urie, of North Melbourne, are entitled to great commendation for their workmanship in this respect…[5]

Photos taken: 7th September 2014.

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The window is of four lights with smaller tracery windows above to complete the design and is a typical design by Ferguson & Urie from that period. The two centre lights have the ribbons/scrolls in the centre with the following two pieces of scripture:

“Christ is all and in all” – (Colossians 3:11)
“Worship God in the Spirit” – (Philippians 3:3)

The original bluestone nave of the church now sits sandwiched between two newer buildings with doorways to each at the ends. The single light windows in the nave are works of art by the Brooks, Robinson & Co stained glass company from the early 1900’s and later. These windows were originally likely to have been Ferguson & Urie’s simple stained glass bordered designs that have been replaced over more than half a century. The historic Ferguson & Urie stained glass window at the east end still lights the nave of the old church building the same as it has over a century and a half ago and creates an amazing kaleidoscope of coloured patterns over the floor when the sunlight strikes it at the right time

Significant transcriptions:

The Age, Melbourne, Vic, Monday 14th October 1867, page 6.

“THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH AT MELTON is nearly completed, the glaziers being engaged with the windows. The Bacchus Marsh Express praises the stained glass, the design and colors being beautiful. “Messrs Ferguson and Urie, of North Melbourne, are entitled to great commendation for their workmanship in this respect. It is expected the church will be opened in a month for public worship. The cost is £1000, of which only £100 has to remain as a debt on the building. This speaks well for the Presbyterians of Melton.”

Bacchus Marsh Express, Vic, Saturday 14th September 1867, page 2.

“OPENING OF THE NEW PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, MELTON.

THE Presbyterians of Melton district have for some years back held divine service in a wooden building known as the Union Church, owing to it having been erected and afterwards used by all denominations. On Sunday last, however, the Presbyterian congregation took possession of their own Church, when the Rev. H. Darling, of Emerald Hill, and the Rev. James Lambie, pastor of the congregation, conducted the services. The former preached in the absence of the Rev. T. McKenzie Frazer, who had been announced to do so. The Wesleyans, who used to use the Union Church, have now a building of their own, and the Church of England congregation have also completed the erection of a handsome Church, with the exception of the windows and seats, so that in a short time the Union Church will be devoted to school purposes only.

THE SOIREE.

The annual soire of the congregation was celebrated in the building known as the Union Church, and after the eatables had been disposed of, the partakers proceeded to the new Church, a short distance away, where the Rev. James Lambie, pastor of the congregation, took the chair. Of the building itself we are not disposed to give elaborate particulars which are perhaps well known to those interested in the matter. Its dimensions are stated to be 50ft. [unreadable characters…] It is apparent to any observer, however that the new Melton Presbyterian Church, both externally and internally, would be a credit to any community; and although it is not yet finished, as a steeple is intended to be erected, yet the absence of this ornament is scarcely noticeable. The windows of the church are particularly elegant, especially the principal one at the back of the pulpit, which is fitted with stained glass of a very rich description. The building is entirely of bluestone, with a slate roof, and the ceiling is a groined one, thereby affording the greatest possible loftiness for ventilation, besides adding to the general ecclesiastical appearance of the interior. The pulpit and platform surrounding it is of a massive kind, having nothing paltry in its appearance, although the usual amount of French polish has not yet been applied. The seats, too, for the congregation are strong roomy ones, made upon a good pattern; and altogether the Church bears evidence that what has been attempted has been done in the best manner, and so far from there being any reason for surprise that the Church has been two years in course of construction, the wonder is that such thorough progress has been made in the time. These preliminary remarks may well be concluded by the addition of a word of praise to the efforts of the choir upon the occasion of the soire, as their performances were really enjoyable.

The CHAIRMAN remarked that while congratulating those assembled, he did not intend to specially address them; he would leave that to his brethren on the platform. It was two years last month since they commenced to built the Church. They had proceeded slowly, but surely. He submitted a statement of the Building Fund.

The subscriptions had amounted to £470. 7s. 4½d.; bazaars, £265.17s.7d.; grant from Assembly , £189.7s.9d.; foundation stone collection, £32. 10s.; loan from Bank, £100. He had little to say further than that the subscriptions had been raised almost entirely from members and adherents of the Church. He did not mention this boastingly. The ladies had purchased the lamps, and the children furnished the precentor’s desk. There had been expended £1049. 11s. 8d., leaving a balance of £11. 0s. 8½.

Mr. BLACKWOOD then read the treasurer’s report for the past year, from which it appeared that the receipts had been £126. 2s. 11d., and the expenditure £124. 0s.5½d., leaving a balance of £2. 2s. 5½d. The speaker referred to the lotting of the seats, and that accommodation would be made for those who did not rent seats. He wished some of the reverend gentlemen to take up the question of whether the congregation should stand or sit at singing. He wished to see uniformity.

The CHAIRMAN intimated that some of the reverend gentlemen who had been invited were absent. They were the Revs. J. Clarke, A McNicol, W. A. Lind, and J. C. Sabine. [Mr. Sabine had desired us to mention that he intended to be present, but the heat of the day prevented him, and he delayed sending an apology hoping that it would moderate].

The Rev. R. HENDERSON was the next speaker. He said that although several gentlemen were absent, he felt assured there would be no lack of speakers. They had Mr. Inglis, who was a host in himself. He would take his cue from Mr. Blackwood, and endeavour to comply with his desire that those learned in Church matters should enlighten them regarding the posture in worship. He believed it had been the practice of their Church for 300 years to sit during singing; but the General Assembly allowed congregations to make their own rules in regard to such matters. If they were unanimous in resolving to stand at singing, there was nothing to prevent them. So far as he was concerned, he preferred to see the congregation standing during singing, as it enabled them to execute their psalmody in a better manner than while sitting. The rev. gentleman then commented upon the necessity of improving the psalmody as much as possible, and was favourable to the use of a harmonium. Many congregations had introduced them, and others were merely putting off the consideration of the question. He agreed with all the encomiums upon their Church bestowed by the Rev. H. Darling, and suggested that all Presbyteries should adopt some definite system in regard to architectural style. He recommended the congregation to assume a reverential demeanour upon entering their Church, and exhorted them also to realise that, although Christians were divided into seats, yet they all had one heaven to receive them. Before sitting down, he must congratulate Mr. Lambie upon his success in raising money to build this Church. As a co-presbyter with him, he desired publicly to acknowledge his earnest and inudable endeavours in this matter. He rejoiced in being present this evening, and wished them God speed in their endeavours.

The Rev. J. W. INGLIS commenced by some humorous remarks, depreciatory of the laudatory manner in which the previous speaker had referred to him, and said that the expectation of the assemblage had been unduly raised. It was twelve years ago since he had attended his first tea meeting at Melton, and there were only five persons present. In fact, he had boiled his billy on the bank of the creek. His next meeting was with their present pastor, and now once again he had the pleasure of meeting them under prosperous circumstances, in their own Church. The Union Church had answered its purpose well, but now Melton possessed three substantial Churches, which they must all rejoice at. Their Church was certainly a handsome one, but no doubt no handsomer than they thought it to be; and he might say that Presbyteries were only beginning to pay proper attention to architectural effect; still they must never forget the higher object of their Church buildings. The speaker exhorted the congregation to take special interest in all that appertained to their Church, and to guard against the deadness which would fall upon a congregation which did not regularly attend at worship every Sabbath. He was more than pleased to hear that they had contributed to all the funds for which the Assembly sought their aid, and he trusted that they would always recollect the claims of such objects. Although a Presbyterian, he was no sectarian, and did not wish his sympathies to remain with that Church only; for there was but one Shepherd, one fold, one House of many mansions, and they should remember that this building was God’s house – not theirs – but dedicated to the God of Zion. Let them enter it as the gate of heaven, thinking of God’s words, “Come to me, all ye that are heavy laden;” and there was nothing which would cheer the adversities of this life but seeking the house of God every Sabbath, where they could have communion with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, and feel that there was a place prepared for them where the inhabitants know no tears, and which was the land of everlasting bliss. If they did this, truly this place would be a blessed place. He had but one word to say, in regard to their indebtedness to God for all they had. If they realised this, and were honest in their religious convictions, neither he nor any other minister would have occasion to ask them to give of their substance to the purposes of God’s worship. He hoped that for many years they would worship here, and may the faith they had imbibed enable them to enter into the joy of the kingdom of their Lord. A collection was then taken up, during which the choir sang “How Beautiful upon the Mountain.” They also sang at the conclusion of each speech.

The Rev. J. MEEK would simply make a few remarks in his own way. He had watched their progress as a congregation with considerable satisfaction, and he was here to confess that the career of this congregation had taught him one or two useful lessons. He had at one time serious misgivings as to the success of the effort to establish this congregation, but their prosperity had rebuked him, and taught him to remember that it was right to do one’s duty, and leave the results to God. We at Gisborne would not feel flattered by being compared to Melton; yet they worshipped in a temporary wooden building. He hoped their success in Melton would induce the Gisborne congregation to at least consider the matter of beginning to do likewise. He looked upon this Church as a testimony to the zeal and devotedness of their minister, and as a monument of their liberality; and he trusted most earnestly that on the great day of accounts, their minister might have many from among them as a crown of glory.

The Rev. J. SCOTT had been admonished by the departure of many that the patience of the audience was well-nigh exhausted. He had not come with any desire of speaking, but rather to hear others. However, he must join his congratulations with those of the speakers who had preceded him. Their minister had done what few of his brethren would have attempted. He felt that they had done great things in the past, and he believed it would be an incentive for them to buckle with a will to attend with zeal to all those observances which proved them a Christian people. The rev. gentleman urged the congregation to train their children to build up Christ’s cause in this young country, and concluded by hoping that they and their pastor would enjoy many such meetings as the present.

The CHAIRMAN announced the collection to be £5. 18s. 4d., making upwards of £20 with the collection of the previous day, for which the committee gave their hearty thanks.

Mr. BUCHANAN proposed a vote of thanks to the ladies, and made one of the best speeches of the evening. Carried by acclamation. Mr. BLACKWOOD proposed a vote of thanks to Mr. Corr, for having allowed the Committee to take the stone for building the Church from his property, free of charge. The vote was carried, and ordered to be conveyed to Mr. Corr. The vote of thanks to the visitors was also proposed by Mr. Blackwood.

The Rev. J. W. INGLIS, the Rev. R. HENDERSON, and the Rev. H. DARLING replied. The latter remarked that he was in favour of the congregation standing during singing and sitting during prayer, with the head upon the book board, as the attention was not then distracted as when standing. His congregation followed this practice.

Mr. MACINTOSH replied to a vote of thanks to the trustees. He was delighted to see what had been done, and he hoped that they would all recollect what had been said respecting regular attendance at Church. He was of opinion that the congregation should agree for the future to sit at prayer and stand at singing.

Mr. McPHERSON paid some deserved compliments to the choir in proposing a vote of thanks to them and their leader, Mr. Merchant.

The CHAIRMAN here presented Mr. Oldershaw, a member of the choir, a splendidly-bound edition of Cassell’s Illustrated Bible, as a testimony from the committee of their appreciation of his services.

Mr. OLDERSHAW expressed his thanks in a feeling manner, but was scarcely audible enough. The Rev. J. MEEK proposed a vote of thanks to the Chairman, which was briefly responded to, and the rev. gentleman remarked that henceforth he would be able to give more time to the spiritual wants of the congregation than hitherto.

The proceedings were closed by the choir singing a hymn. The proceeds of the sale of tickets amount to £16.”

 

Footnotes:

[1] The Australasian, Melbourne, Vic, Saturday 30th December 1865, page 12.

[2] Bacchus Marsh Express, Vic, Saturday 14th September 1867, page 2.

[3] Shire of Melton Heritage Study, Vol 5, page 3.

[4] Bacchus Marsh Express, Vic, Saturday 14th September 1867, page 2.

[5] The Age, Melbourne, Vic, Monday 14th October 1867, page 6.

 


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