Friday, 1 December 2017

St Luke's Ellinbank - the History

There has been a Church on the junction of Korumburra and Hazeldean Roads, Ellinbank, for nearly 100 years, in fact since 1915.
Records show that the site was occupied by an hotel from 1880 but it is unknown how long the Hotel operated or what became of the building. It became evident after St George’s Church was built that the site had indeed held an hotel, as the ground at the front of the Church constantly subsided - probably into the cellar of the hotel!
In 1914 the Church of England community decided that they had enough support to build a church in the district. The land for a church was donated by Mr Lionel Gilbert.
St George’s Church of England was built and officially opened on the 15th September 1915 by the first Bishop of Gippsland, Dr A. W. Pain and assisted by the Rector of Warragul, Rev  L. M. Nancarrow.
Golden Jubilee celebrations took place in 1965, with many former parishioners and clergy returning on that day. Three years later, on the 10th June 1968, St George’s Church was burnt to the ground. There was no official cause for the fire;  it was recorded “as may be an electrical fault”.
In October 1969 a Co-operating Committee was formed with the intention of building a new church. The committee comprised members from St.George’s Church, the Ellinbank Methodist Church and the Tetoora Road Methodist Congregation, which at that time met at the Tetoora Road Public Hall. The Committee decided that the new church be named St Luke's Anglican-Methodist Co-operating Church.
Building commenced soon after and the new church was officially opened on March 28th 1971 by the Bishop of Gippsland the Right Reverend  D. Garnsey, and the President of the Methodist Conference of Victoria Reverend H. MacKay, assisted by Reverends R. Elliot, J. Richards and N. Marshall.
On the 4th June 1971 – just 2 months later - the new St Luke's was destroyed by fire, this time as a result of an arson attack. Services continued in the old Methodist Church building at Ellinbank until the church was re-built, and re-opened on the 5th December 1971.
To finance the first building the committee canvassed the district for funds and also arranged for interest free debentures to be taken out. The debentures were repaid and the building was free from debt by the end of 1973.
After the second fire, the committee had to find another Insurance company.  St Luke’s is now insured with the Anglican Diocese of Gippsland.
The co-operating venture between the Anglican and Methodist, now Anglican and Uniting, churches was one of the first to be trialled, and worked well for Ellinbank for over 40 years.

On 30th April 2017, a service was held, of celebration and thanksgiving for over 100 years of ministry in this location, and services ceased.  The remaining members have joined other congregations around Warragul, Nilma, Darnum and Drouin.

To our great joy, the building was quickly taken up as the home for a new local gathering of God's people:  Warragul Presbyterian Church.  We give thanks that the name of Jesus will be proclaimed and honoured in this place into the future, and pray for God's blessing on their ministry.