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150 Years and more at Marsden Road

The church service on October 9th 2016 marked 150 years since since our lovely stone church was opened and dedicated.

Nearly one year earlier the Marsden Road congregation celebrated the laying of the church's foundation stone. To mark that occasion, a special commemorative worship service was prepared by Rev Jan Reeve. The congregation gathered outside the church, and entered as a procession, singing the hymn, “For all the saints”.

That service commenced a year of planning and preparation of celebrations to mark the official opening of the “Dundas Wesleyan Methodist Church”, which occurred on October 3rd 1866.

This was not the first Methodist church on Marsden Road. More than 190 years ago, on Friday, January 7th, 1825, a Methodist chapel and schoolhouse opened a couple of hundred metres further up Marsden Road. The weatherboard structure served the neighbourhood families, mainly orchardists, dairy farmers and timber workers, very well, but was to prove inadequate as the district grew.

Forty years later the foundation stone was laid for the present stone church, and one year after, the building was officially opened. The old chapel continued to be used as a Sunday School, then later as a house, until it was destroyed by fire in 1898. The property was eventually sold in 1937.

As we moved towards the October date, six weeks of special church services were planned, culminating in Anniversary Sunday on the 9th of October. The theme running through the worship was “Saints Alive”, as we reflected on people, past and present, who had been significant in the church’s life - and our lives.

Ministers and Lay Preachers “old and new”, who had faithfully ministered at Marsden Road over the past 50 years, were invited to participate in the services and festivities !

The visiting Preachers were:

August 28th          Rev Peter Oliver

September 4th     Rev Aeryun Lee, with participation by the Rainbow Congregation

            11th          Rev Helen Edgerton

            18th          Rev Norman McDonald

            25th          Rev Grahame Ellis

October 2nd         Lay Preachers Warwick Roden and Rowena Burwood - Laity focus

            9th            Rev Jane Fry

On Saturday 8th October an “Open Church” was held from 11am, with musical items on the hour until 2pm, activities for the children including “Search the Church”, displays of historical items, and generous supplies of tea, coffee and nibbles.

The climax of the celebrations was the service on 9th October conducted by Rev Jane Fry, Acting Secretary of the Uniting Church’s Synod of NSW & ACT. Jane reflected on the importance of the training she received at Marsden Rd, which was her first appointment after ordination. She challenged the congregation to be alive, and confront the future in new ways.

An unusual feature of the Anniversary Service was the building of a model of our Marsden Road church. This had been carefully designed and made with six individual pieces: the foundation, four walls and the roof. Even the eight stained glass memorial windows were colourfully replicated. Each piece was placed in position by representatives of some of the groups within the church.

When assembled, it was recognised that this church was not yet alive. It needed the life of its people. Rev John Candy and member Bill Raward, brought ‘light and life’ into the church by placing torches inside, which illuminated the windows. The congregation cried, “Hallelujah!, and the choir sang “Bless this Building”, to the “Bless this House” tune.

No celebration is complete without food, and morning tea became a lunch for a great crowd. There was a lot of catching up to do, and memories to be shared