James O’Callaghan reports on the 150th anniversary celebrations for Warwick Uniting Church.
On the 22 November 1870, the St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church was opened in Warwick. One hundred and fifty years later, the congregation has moved buildings and withstood natural disasters, continuing to thrive and provide vital services to the community.
Despite COVID-19, the congregation was steadfast in organising a celebration fitting for 150 years of the church in Warwick.
Warwick-Killarney Uniting Church Council Chair Sue Campbell says the 150th anniversary celebrations were designed around the theme, “remember, rejoice and renew”.
“We remembered the history of the Warwick Uniting Church with a book launch and high tea on Saturday 31 October 2020,” says Sue. “This event had a Scottish feel with the St Andrew’s tartan, to pay homage to the original St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church.”
Members of the congregation rejoiced at a dinner on Saturday 21 November 2020 which was attended by past ministers, members who have been involved in the church for a significant period of time and Moderator Rev Andrew Gunton.
“Andrew attended church as a young teenager, so we are delighted that he was able to join us for this celebration,” says Sue. “We have cause to celebrate and we are doing all that we can to ensure that as many people are able to participate in the festivities as possible whilst still conducting COVID safe events. As the capacity levels have doubled as of 17th November 2020 we can now cater for 100.”
Celebrations around the theme “renew” occurred on Sunday 22 November 2020 with a service that included a sermon by the Moderator followed by a BYO picnic lunch.
Whilst the Warwick congregation has been going strong for 150 years there are a number of opportunities for the congregation.
“We are planning a discussion on what we want for the future of the Warwick Uniting Church as part of our renewal,” says Sue.
This sentiment was echoed by Warwick-Killarney Uniting Church Minister Rev Ansie Liedenberg.
“The job is not yet done, there is a lot more work to do,” she says.
The Warwick Uniting Church has a strong connection with the local community through events such as the Spring Fair and local community outreach.
“A lot of our outreach is with young families, many of whom know us through the mainly music events which used to run regularly prior to COVID-19 where up to twenty families would regularly attend,” says Sue.
“We are fortunate to have a manse next to the church which is used as a lighthouse centre and we take advantage of our location across the road from the courthouse with a courthouse coffee service. We also have a community garden on the northern side of the church and often find members of the community with no connection to our church sitting and reflecting.
“Over the past 18 months significant structural work has been carried out on the building and pipe organ. This is our time in this church to ensure that not only the building, but more importantly the faith community is left in good stead for those that might celebrate the 300th anniversary—just imagine that. What a legacy!”, says Sue.