Recognising history, serving the future

20 Jun 2019 by Jonathan Foye in: Latest News

The oldest church still in use in Australia recently celebrated its 210th anniversary. Ebenezer Uniting Church is located on the banks of the Hawkesbury River.

Before the church was completed in 1809, members of the church held services outside where the building currently stands.

The 210th anniversary service took place on Sunday 16 June.

Uniting Church NSW and ACT General Secretary Rev. Bronwyn Murphy attended the event. Ebenezer Uniting Church is a building of personal history for Rev. Murphy, who attended the church when she was a student minister. She told Insights that the 210th anniversary service was not only about commemorating the past.

“The purpose of the annual pilgrimage is not simply to remember our heritage, but to give thanks for those who paved our way—and rejoice that God still calls us forward into an exciting, and often uncertain, future,” Rev. Murphy said.

“Ebenezer has a history that is shaped by the present, ready to serve the future.”

The anniversary service was prepared and led by Rev. Rodel Palma and Rev. Sharon Cutts.

“It was a privilege to sit in this little sandstone church knowing people had gathered for worship and fellowship for 210 years. There is a simple beauty to the church and its setting – it is a thin place where God seems even closer. 

“To bring the greetings of the synod and participate was an honour and I pay tribute to the congregation members who work so hard to keep the heritage alive as they serve God.”

The federal member for Macquarie, Susan Templeman, was also in attendance. 

“It was a real privilege to be there for the 210th anniversary service,” Ms Templeman said.

“When you visit Ebenezer Church it is so easy to be transported back 200 years, but it’s also a tribute to the commitment of those who followed that the Church has remained active and engaged with its local community.”

Built as a Presbyterian church, Ebenezer Uniting Church is listed as having heritage significance and also includes a cemetery and the site of a school. 

While Ebenezer is widely recognised as the oldest church in Australia, this is a close contest.

For example, Castlereigh Methodist Church is recognised as the oldest Wesleyan church in Australia, and was built in 1810.

For more information on Ebenezer Uniting Church, visit the church’s Facebook page.

Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor