Celebrating a milestone: Moree Uniting Church
On Sunday 15 October 2017 the Congregation of Moree Uniting Church and many visitors gathered to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the building of the first church on the site, in 1867, which was also the first church of any denomination to be built in the town.
The first church was a slab hut “raised from the ground” by James Greenaway in 1867. It was used by all denominations and also served as a school. Rev Kirton Corner was the first minister, aged in his early 20s, and he visited Moree on horseback from Narrabri where he was stationed.
The second minister was 20 year old Rev James Carruthers in 1868, who had a huge area to cover from Gunnedah to Mungindi to Bingara. Travel was by pack-horse, lodging in pubs, stations and huts. He is quoted as saying, “Distances were long, journeys were tedious, population was sparse, and the vastness and comparative emptiness of the district were almost oppressive, but one would be permitted to share the best the people had to give.”
The second timber building was erected in 1895 during the ministry of either Rev Stephens or Thomas. It served well and was moved to Gravesend to make way for the third building in 1938, but sadly it was destroyed by a cyclone that swept through the area in 1949.
The third building, the current lovely brick one, was erected by Hetherington & Pritchard and was opened in December 1938. The architect was Mr Hugh McCourt.
In 1872 Moree was in the Inverell-Moree Circuit; in on 1892-94 it was a Home Mission Station; was again a Circuit until 1924, when it became the headquarters of the North-West Mission until the early 1960s. It was responsible for patrols to outback towns, conducted about every three months by the minister accompanied by a few church members, travelling on all kinds of weather and on horrendous roads in cars not really fit for the purpose, often camping out. What dedication and perseverance they showed!
Moree has been served by a total of 34 Methodist clergy and 14 Uniting Church ministers in its history, but currently is without a minister.
The 150th anniversary was a wonderful celebration, with the new Moderator Rev Simon Hansford as guest preacher.
The singing was amazing, there was a magnificent display of photos and memorabilia, a delicious luncheon was served and many old friendships were renewed. A history book of Moree’s First Church has been compiled and is available for purchase by contacting the church.
We are proud to have achieved such a significant anniversary.
Mrs Jenny Pritchard, church historian, grand-daughter of the architect and daughter-in-law of the builder