Mypolonga Uniting Church celebrates its centenary
The former Methodist church on Green Street has turned 100.
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In years gone by, the sound of hymn-singing would have wafted down Mypolonga’s main street every Sunday morning.
Those glory days returned on Sunday, at least for a few hours, as a bigger-than-usual congregation packed the picturesque Uniting Church to celebrate its centenary.
They sang Your Hand O God Has Guided and To God be the Glory and gave thanks.
Then they caught up with neighbours and old friends over afternoon tea, sharing memories of Sunday school picnics and Christmas pantomimes, gas lights being lit and foundation stones laid, baptisms, weddings and funerals.
Two of the congregation’s oldest members, nonagenarians Des Wynne and Jean Kruger, cut a commemorative cake.
Only a handful of people still worshipped at Mypolonga every fortnight, congregation leader Anne Martin said, but it was a close-knit group that remained.
“(I love) the support that each person gives each other,” she said.
“They are always so thoughtful and welcoming.
“We try and pass that on to other people.”
Ian Haywood’s – whose family helped raise money to build the church, and whose grandfather charged workers sixpence to hitch a ride from a fruit packing shed on his Model T Ford – said the connections he had formed in his childhood at Mypolonga were still as strong as ever.
“The church has a pivotal role in bringing people together,” he said.
“If someone is in need, someone from the church comes over to bring a meal or just lend a hand.”
The old Methodist church would have hosted more than 5000 services since Reverend William Shaw laid its foundation stone on February 22, 1922.
A Christian community had existed at Mypolonga before that, but had met first in a daub and pine hut, then in people’s homes, and finally at the Institute up the road when it was built in 1920.
The first service at the £450 stone church was held on August 5, 1922.
In those early years, the congregation swelled and groups such as a girls’ comradeship, a ladies’ guild and a choir were formed.
A hall was added at the back of the building in the 1950s, at a cost of £2000, though its opening was delayed until August 10, 1957 due to the floods of the year before.
In 1962, church members formed an indoor bowls team which still meets to this day.
The congregation became part of the Uniting Church at its establishment in 1977.
As in most denominations, attendance at Mypolonga’s last church has declined in recent decades – a youth group closed in the 1980s, the women’s fellowship stopped meeting around 1996, and the last Sunday school class was in 1998.
Still, memories of those days live on.
Thanks to a 24-page history booklet put together by Lucy Marsh and Heath Fereday for the occasion – with support from the Mypolonga Historical Society, minister Darren Lovell and the Uniting Church, the State Library of South Australia, and nearly a dozen local families – they will persist longer still.