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Written by Rowland Ward   
Tuesday, 24 June 2008 14:12

The Presbyterian Church of Eastern Australia in Melbourne

Updated 2 May 2019

The PCEA was founded in Sydney in 1846 in the aftermath of the Disruption of the Established Church of Scotland in 1843 which involved the forming of the Free Church of Scotland. In Melbourne the first Christian minister was the Rev James Forbes (1813-51) who ministered in Scots Church from early 1838. He withdrew in 1846 and formed the Free Presbyterian Church which was in fellowship with the PCEA but separately organised because of the problems of distance etc. [Sydney is 600 miles/900 kms from Melbourne and in those days was a difficult journey indeed.] By early 1855 the Free Presbyterian Synod had men working at John Knox (Swanston Street), East Melbourne (Chalmers), Williamstown, Carlton,  South Yarra, Emerald Hill (= South Melbourne, Dorcas Street) and Richmond as well as elsewhere in Victoria. In 1859 most Presbyterians in Victoria united at some compromise, and ultimately only the East St Kilda Free Presbyterian Church was left, along with the Gaelic Church in Geelong and a charge in the Western District at Hamilton. These united with the like-minded New South Wales-based PCEA in 1953. There were several rural parishes - Meredith and Ballarat region; Drysdale; Nareen; Wimmera (Murtoa, Minyip &c.); and stations at Camperdown (from 1880) and Charlton (from 1881) - but it was difficult to maintain them as population moved to larger centres, and ministers were in very short supply by the early 1900s, so these works eventually disappeared.


First Minister: Arthur Paul (1855-1910)

Knox Presbyterian Church in Wantirna began in 1987 as a result of the relocation of part of the small congregation at St Kilda which had existed since May 1855 with Rev Arthur Paul as preacher.  Paul was born in Greenock in 1826, trained in Glasgow and at New College, Edinburgh and arrived in Sydney in August 1853 where he endeavoured unsuccessfully to form a second PCEA congregation there. He moved to Melbourne in November 1854. The St Kilda Congregation met first in an iron building with earthen floor on the corner of High Street and Alma Road, but soon the wooden chapel of the Congregationalists in the then shopping precinct of Inkerman Street West was purchased and opened 23 September 1855 as the Free Presbyterian Church. The location was a block with frontage of about 50 feet beginning about 98 feet east of Inkerman Grove and thus almost opposite Lyell Street. Today it would be number 62 which, along with adjoining property, is occupied by a multi-storey Telecom facility. Paul was duly inducted 2 October 1855.

Disputes over union among the different branches of the Presbyterian church in Victoria resulted in the minister and all but one of the communicants giving up the building by mutual arrangement in 1857. The £400 debt on the building was assumed by the supporters of an inclusive union, who moved to a new site on the NE corner of Alma Road and Barkly Street where a bluestone building was opened on 16 December 1860. It was replaced in 1886 and still exists as the St Kilda Presbyterian Church of Victoria. The old site in Inkerman Street continued in use as a Presbyterian day school for some years. The school building was set well back on the 223 feet deep block according to early plans.

While Paul’s congregation already had a government site of 2 acres on the corner of Alma Road and Chapel Street (permanently reserved by order of 10 August 1863), in 1857 this was considered a little too far from the centre of St Kilda for a church. The population of St Kilda was only about 2,700, and lived mainly near the coast. Hence, a site at 23-29 Alma Road was purchased and a temporary wooden church erected on the eastern part of the block about June 1857 seated for 200. The cost was covered by gifts and a loan from Thomas Bailey, an associate of William Montgomerie Bell (1813-67), an elder of John Knox Free Presbyterian Church in Swanston Street and an early Mayor of Melbourne. It was sold at auction in December 1863 for about £259 or just over 4 cents per square foot and was used as a Baptist Church for some years (site now occupied by an office building).

First manse 1858

At about the same time (June 1857) work began on building a manse of seven rooms on the government site. Despite efforts by the Inkerman Street group to secure the property for themselves, the work was successfully completed for £540 ($1,080) in 1859, the year Paul married Jane Moffatt. A three room extension was added in 1868 to accommodate the growing family (11 of the 12 children survived infancy). Total cost to 1869 was £1,209 ($2,418). These were the days when a builder’s labourer cost ten shillings ($1) a day.

Bluestone church 1864

By 1861 St Kilda’s population was 6,400 and it was resolved in August 1862 to proceed with the erection of a permanent church in Chapel Street adjoining the manse. The architect was Lloyd Tayler, who also designed the South Yarra Presbyterian Church (1865), many banking chambers and the Houses of Parliament in Adelaide.

The original design envisaged a longer building with a spire. As erected there was a squat tower instead of the spire, and accommodation for 150/200 persons. The builder was B. Williamson, and the cost £1,525. It was opened on 17 January 1864 with Paul the preacher in the morning and Rev Alexander Gosman of St Kilda Congregational Church the preacher in the evening. The debt in 1865 was only £40.

Paul was a logical thinker, competent Hebraist and one who maintained a life-long interest in mathematics. His sharp analysis of the union negotiations, particularly his Coalition of Interests not the Unity of the Faith, intensified feeling, but I judge more because it was an accurate portrayal than because of any supposed vitriol.

Early elders

We lack some records for the early period so cannot be sure of early officebearers. Joseph Thomson and Robert Campbell (1808-94), one of the first two elders of Scots Church under Rev James Forbes, were among the number, perhaps George Urquhart also. David Moffatt, Paul’s brother-in-law, and W.G.Murray, at one time a councillor of St Kilda, were prominent men who had come from John Knox Congregation in Swanston Street. David Niven was an elder at some stage, as was Thomas Watson (d. 1893), and possibly his son Thomas G. Watson (1859-1912), successively Clerk of the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council. It was a small but influential congregation in its own way. Two 9/10 room double-storey houses (92 and 94 Alma Road) were erected in 1877 and enabled the congregation to manage financially. About a third of the site fronting Chapel Street was sold at this time. Sir John Madden erected a large home on this site in the 1887 where he lived until 1912 before moving to East Melbourne. Unhappily, Paul’s sympathies narrowed through the union conflicts, and in the 1890s some of the people met separately in the Protestant Hall in Melbourne for a mid-week meeting led by the minister of the Geelong Congregation, the remarkable John Sinclair. Paul died 13 August 1910 at the age of 84.

Rev John Watson Smith (1858-1928), who had been brought up in John Knox Congregation but was a licentiate of the New Zealand church, came to Melbourne in 1916 and gave helpful supply. He had connection with a similar congregation in Dunedin. There was a gap of more than a decade before a regular settlement of a minister.

Second Minister: Rev J. Campbell Robinson (1921-52)

James Campbell Robinson (1884-1952) was brought up on the Manning River PCEA, trained in the Free Church of Scotland College, Edinburgh, and was ordained and inducted 18 August 1921. He was a devotional preacher, much attached to the church, and did much in the way of literature distribution. He also put the property in order and extended the house at 94 Alma Road to make additional flats. In 1938 the manse was reconstructed although it retained the 1868 wing. The congregation was not large, 30 to 40 being a likely good attendance, including many widows who had retired to Melbourne from the country districts. For a time he had a radio programme on 3UZ called Gems from Sacred Literature. Mr Robinson did not marry until October 1951, and a few months later his health required leave of absence. He died on 15 October 1952.

Elders during his ministry were J. Watson Smith (1921-28) Samuel Nicolson (1921-1943), A.G.E.Smith (1923-33); Thomas McKay (1928-34, returned to Stornoway); Angus McDonald (1929-45, to Scotland); Donald McLeod (1930-35, to Scotland); Charles Mackechnie (1933-80); Alexander MacLeod (1937-46); Alfred M. McLean (1937-83); Gilbert H. Brain (1940-49); Harald C. Nicolson (1947-55; 1961-79).

Third Minister: Rev Edwin R. Lee, MA (1959-66)

There was another lengthy vacancy following Mr Robinson’s death as ministers were still in short supply. Rev Kenneth MacRae, MA of the Free Church of Scotland gave valuable help from June 1953 to June 1954. At his first service he had 26 hearers – quite a change from the 1,500 in his home charge of Stornoway. Rev Angus Beaton gave six months supply up to March 1958 before going to Peru as a missionary of the PCEA.

At the end of July 1959 Rev Edwin Lee (1922-2016) came from Scotland with a view to a call. Under his energetic Christ-centred ministry, supported by his wife Barbara, a considerable reviving of the congregation took place and membership rose from 24 to 50 during his all too brief ministry. The first deacons in the congregation were set apart in May 1962. The church hall built in 1961 at a cost of £1,865 ($3,730), used some of the foundations laid in 1863 and was a big improvement. It enabled John Knox Theological College to operate 1963 to 1965, with Lee, Allan Harman of Geelong PCEA, and W.R.McEwen of the Reformed Presbyterian Church its lecturers. Mr Lee resigned 17 April 1966 to return to Scotland, although in 1970 he returned to Australia and served the Manning River PCEA in New South Wales. He found his ultimate retirement location in Geelong, and in 2010, just short of his 88th birthday, secured his PhD on the life and thought of John Buchan, Lord Tweedsmuir.

Elders in this period: Messrs Mackechnie, McLean, Nicolson and James G.Simpson (1967-80).

Fourth minister: Rev Raymond W. Murray, BA (1968-72)

Ray Murray was a native of Bunyah, a rural locality within the Manning River charge. He trained in Scotland, was called to St Kilda and ordained and inducted 11 December 1968. The congregation was maintained under his earnest ministry, not all that easy a task given the need to consolidate the growth that had occurred, but he was transferred to Brisbane PCEA 21 July 1972.

Additional elder: David S. Webster (1967-76) a son of PCEA minister, J. Alex Webster (1895-1987).

Fifth minister: Rev Eric S. Turnbull (1973-79)

Eric Stanley Turnbull (1928-2013) was transferred from Hamilton to St Kilda on 29 June 1973 and continued until he was suspended 31 August 1979. He was removed from the ministry 2 November 1979 after due process. Mr Turnbull was an earnest minister who had been a well known Baptist preacher in Tasmania. He came to a Reformed and Presbyterian position in 1961, served on the North West coast with what is now called the Evangelical Presbyterian Church [EPC], but transferred to the PCEA, with the blessing of the EPC, in September 1965. He had not had a regular theological training and difficulties arose as he applied a somewhat narrowed approach focussing ultimately on giving the King James Version of the Scriptures the status of a translation without any mistake or error. He closed the extension work the previous minister had begun in Croydon. Membership declined from 44 to 36 during his ministry, although commitment judged by financial givings improved. A majority of the active congregation followed Turnbull into an independent work. It was a very difficult point. In 1988 Turnbull's group purchased a former Brethren building in Woodlands Grove, Chadstone and a small group worship there under the name 'Australian Free Church'. Eric Turnbull died in June 2013 and was buried in Beaufort, Victoria.

Elders in this Period: Messrs Mackechnie (d.1980), McLean (to 1983), Nicolson (to 1979), Simpson (to 1980), Webster (to 1976), W.A. 'Bill' Semple (1976-82), Ivor Briggs (1976-80) & John D. Nelson (1979-80).

Sixth minister: Rev Rowland S. Ward, BA, DipTh, Hons BTh, ThD (1984-2012)

Melbourne-born Rowland Ward was brought up in the Presbyterian Church of Victoria but resigned in 1968 and transferred to the PCEA with which he had had contact since early 1966 while he was still working in the general insurance industry. He trained at the Free Church of Scotland College, Edinburgh 1972-75, served at Ulverstone, Tasmania to 1981, and came to Melbourne in August 1981 to supply the greatly weakened congregation which then had about a dozen or so attenders. This was a very difficult situation as many of those who remained behaved very inconsistently. By the time things had been sorted out nearly three years had passed. An afternoon service had begun in Nunawading on 2 January 1983, and the Wards moved to nearby Box Hill towards the end of that year, purchasing their own home at 22 Bishop Street. The St Kilda manse was let to some Malaysian students. On the second try, a call from St Kilda was accepted and Mr Ward was inducted 2 June 1984. A strategy for the development of the PCEA work and witness was unanimously endorsed by the congregation. A Christian Youth Group of mainly Malaysian students began in May 1985. A number of baptisms followed, and contact is still maintained with several now back in Malaysia.


1. Knox, Wantirna

A portion (88-92 Alma Road) of the old property was subdivided and sold (settled 28 February 1986; net proceeds $323,144), and new premises erected in the eastern suburban heartland where little Reformed witness existed. The new church at Wantirna within the City of Knox was opened on 28 February 1987, The cost of the land (1441m2) was $73,919 and the building, fittings and car park about $150,000. The adjoining manse was opened six months later at a cost of  about $140,000 including $36,469 for the land. The church is of modest size (245m2) with an adjoining car park providing 20 spaces. It has proved very suitable with excellent acoustics and low maintenance requirements. Airconditioning was added in 1999, and the foyer/kitchen area revamped in 2003. The manse was extended in 1997. It was repainted and ducted heating installed in 2005, and further upgraded prior to the Miranda family taking up occupancy in November 2011.

In 1990 it was found possible to begin James Forbes School of Theology with Messrs Ward, Leggott and Hill the lecturers, and this continued until 1992. Mr Ward’s Study Guide to the Westminster Confession was a fruit of this work (1st edition 1992; 3rd edition 2004). In 1994 Mr Ward received the ThD degree from the Australian College of Theology for his work 'Divisions and Unions in Australian Presbyterianism with special reference to the Church's attitude to its creed.' This was based largely on part of the work published in 1989 entitled The Bush Still Burns, the Presbyterian and Reformed Faith in Australia 1788-1988. The School of Theology was revived in 2006 and 2007 to provide some basic training for Sudanese leaders. [In May 2016 Dr Ward was asked at short notice to teach Church History at the Presbyterian Theological College in Box Hill as adjunct lecturer and he has continued in this role since, and also is supervisor of several PhD candidates.]

In mid 2008 Rev Andres Miranda, BA, DipTh, joined the congregation having found the fellowship during his supply of Narre Warren most encouraging. He served as part-time Assistant from December 2008 and full-time from 1 December 2009. On 29 December 2010 the Southern Presbytery sustained a most hearty call to Mr Miranda from the congregation to be colleague to Dr Ward and to continue as his successor upon Dr Ward's resignation of the charge anticipated to occur in a year or so. This call was accepted and the installation of Mr Miranda occurred on 29 January 2011 in the Knox Church which was well filled for the occasion. He became the sole minister upon Dr Ward's retirement on 30 June 2012.

Elders: John B. Louden (1984-31.12.2017) who became emeritus; Angus A. MacLeod (1985-89), son of earlier elder Alexander MacLeod; Rev William M. Mackay (1986-97), the Principal of Presbyterian Ladies' College; Gregory J. Moodie (1990-94), D. Peter Smith (1990-92; 1998-2001) minister at Armidale 2001-2011; H. Klomp (1993-94), Jurien Dekter (2001-18), Andres Miranda (2009-11), inducted as colleague and successor to Dr Ward 2011; Denver Boehret (2011-14), Christopher White (2017-  ).

2. St Kilda to Malvern to Glen Huntly to All Nations, Mulgrave

It was not thought good to abandon the inner area. As we had a small group at St Kilda but were asset rich and cash poor, we accepted an unsought approach to lease the St Kilda Church to some professional photographers who needed height and space for their work, which was mainly illustrating cookery books. A deal was done to lease the church for $15,000 a year from 18 August 1986, and in turn we came to an arrangement with the Malvern Church of Christ Congregation on the corner of Alma Road and Dandenong Road to have the use of their premises for a morning service from 30 November 1986 when our access rights to the St Kilda church hall concluded. We paid 3 years in advance (@$1,500pa) to help the Church of Christ people complete interior redecoration of their building.

In 1987 it was decided to sell the flats at 94 Alma Road together with some land at the rear of the church, the total site area involved being 1,310m2. A sworn valuation of $236,000 in October 1986 was easily eclipsed in June 1987 by a sale prior to auction at $415,000 to the Schizophrenia Fellowship of Victoria, who have since established an excellent housing project. The intention of the church was to reinvest the major part of the proceeds and provide part funding for another manse. The sale of the flats prompted our neighbour, OST Friendly Society, to offer to purchase the church building. A very satisfactory sale price was negotiated at the end of September and the sale was settled 15 December 1987. Later the Salvation Army acquired the church and the OST premises ('Cloyne' originally Sir John Madden’s home), and the church is still used for services by them, although Cloyne was sold by them in 2016.

On 15 January 1990 Rev Peter A.L.Hill began a two-year supply period, and lived in a house rented by the church in Malvern. On Saturday 24 February, Mr Ward noticed an advertisement for a church property in Grange Road on the corner of Wattle Ave, Glen Huntly which had been used by a child-care centre that had become defunct. With Mr Leggott looking at the renovation requirements and Mr Ward the financial, purchase was negotiated prior to the auction scheduled for Sunday 4 March. Right of occupancy was obtained upon payment of the deposit. The property was cleaned up, electrical system upgraded, the exterior painted  and a suitable tenant found for the child-care centre. The church part was available for our exclusive use, and was very suitable for a small group. The official opening was held on Saturday 28 April 1990, and our ownership was finalised on 31 May. The cost after renovation was almost exactly $360,000.

After Mr Hill’s supply was completed the Knox minister maintained the service 1992-2001, with Tim Yee, a licentiate of the Free Church of Scotland, helping for a few months in 1992. From 30 September 2001 to 30 September 2005, Australian-born Rev Ian McKenzie took most of the preaching load. Ian and Alina McKenzie had previously served in India and also with Asian Outreach Glasgow in our Scottish sister church, and so were not unfamiliar with the needs of those of non-European background. There were many Sudanese attending during this time, most bussed from Dandenong by the McKenzies. The ramp access to the side entrance was added in 2001 and the church interior upgraded in 2002. The McKenzies with their son Bruce returned to Scotland on 1 February 2007.

Rev Tut Wan Yoa had the major preaching load from October 2005, and the busing in of people was discontinued in 2008. As of Lord's Day 7 June 2009 the main service was relocated to the new property at Mulgrave (see below).

When the Glen Huntly property was purchased, it was regarded as an investment with a bonus spin-off of accommodation for a small congregation. The lack of on-site parking was among one of the disadvantages of the site. In the longer term the thought was to realise on the potential of the site for alternative uses. The option for a further 5 years lease from 1 April 2009 was not exercised by the child-care centre operator (part of ABC Learning Centres) then in receivership. Although months later they  sought agreement to a new lease this request was declined as meantime a team of consultants had been assembled and plans drawn for conversion into five two-bedroom apartments using virtually all of the existing buildings. A Town Planning permit was approved for the development on 22 December 2009, the same day we had official advice from the Receiver that the ABC Centre would be closing early in January. The detailed building drawings were completed in June 2010 and a contract signed with a view to immediate construction in 2010 and the release of funds for church work, including additional manse provision and church extension. It was hoped the work would be complete by the end of March 2011, but it was found necessary to terminate the building contract and rectify some works not at the required standard and complete the project using another builder who proved very satisfactory and conscientious. The work was virtually complete at the end of October 2012. An enforceable undertaking from the first builder was secured at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal in December 2015 and the compensation then agreed to duly received in March 2016.

3. Narre Warren

In October 1987 a site for a church was purchased by Knox from the developer on the corner of Narre Warren North and Prospect Hill Roads, and permit applications lodged with the City of Berwick.  The site cost $75,000 and was 1901m2 in area. Rev Trevor Leggott, Dip. Min., was called as assistant to the Knox minister, Rev Rowland Ward, with special reference to Narre Warren, and was inducted 11 March 1989.

Services had already began in the Education Centre in Webb Street on 5 February 1989. Mr Leggott had a trades background which was very helpful in the planning of the building which is somewhat similar to that at Knox but at 267m2 a little larger. It is serviced by a car park with 29 spaces, and was opened on 18 August 1990. The all-up cost including the site was about $300,000. It was originally called Berwick City Presbyterian Church because there was no other Presbyterian congregation in the municipality. However, with the changing of municipal boundaries and the forming of the City of Casey, the original title became inappropriate. A manse at 44 Prospect Hill Road was purchased. The cost, including a garage added after purchase, was $115,000.

After Mr Leggott moved to Armidale, NSW PCEA (inducted 5 June 1992), Knox continued oversight. A licentiate, Tim Yee, gave residential supply for a few months, but lacked the experience needed for further service. Mr Harry Klomp, student, supplied for about 18 months from February 1993 to June 1994 when his services were terminated. Appreciated assistance was received from retired ministers, such as Harry Hoving and Wim van Brussell, of the Reformed Churches, Edwin Lee of the PCEA, and students from Geelong. Dr Keith Sewell took a large share of the morning preaching from October 1996-November 1997, and was most acceptable. A teacher at Presbyterian Ladies College, Melbourne, he took up a professorial post in the History Department of Dordt College, Iowa, USA in 1998 returning to Melbourne after his retirement in 2012.

In May 1996 Knox formally invited Rev George Ball, BD, of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland to come to work in Narre Warren. After various delays the Ball family arrived and Mr Ball was received by the Presbytery on 13 December 1997. At the same meeting Presbytery resolved to declare Narre Warren a separate parish from 1 January 1998. There were then about 35 people worshipping regularly. The church and manse was gifted to the congregation by Knox, which also underwrote on-going financial support for three years. Mr Ball was duly called and inducted as minister 13 February 1998. He purchased the manse and the proceeds were invested by the congregation. Mr Ball remained minister until he was transferred to the Manning River PCEA, New South Wales (inducted 9 May 2008). There were ups and downs but the congregation was virtually self-supporting after a few years.

Elders: Tony McKeeman and James Kingsland served 2002-04. Jim Simpson served as an elder from 1999 until his death in 2007. Terry Buck was ordained 2009 and Stewart Louden in 2016.

Prior to Mr Ball’s departure, Rev Sjirk Bajema, BA (Hons), BD, of Mangere Reformed Church, Auckland accepted the call extended by the congregation. He had served the Reformed Church of Canning in Western Australia 1987-99 before accepting a call to Auckland. He arrived at the beginning of December 2008 and his induction occurred Saturday 17 January 2009 at 2.30pm. Rev Andres Miranda and Rev Stephen Giles (ret'd), both ministers of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, provided most of the preaching during the vacancy. Mr Miranda joined the PCEA Knox congregation in mid 2008. Mr Terry Buck was ordained as elder on 13 September 2009 and Mr Stewart Louden in 2016. There were also two deacons - John Audet (resigned 2017) and Reg Mashado. Reg served with cheerfulness and enthusiasm for an all too brief period prior to his death in October 2010. Mr Bajema accepted a call to the Reformed Church of Oamaru, NZ and concluded his Narre Warren ministry 29 January 2018. Mr Miranda was appointed Interim-Moderator.

4. North Dandenong (Sudanese) to All Nations, Mulgrave

In August 2005 the services of Rev Tut Wan Yoa, BTh, MTh, were secured by Knox to further ministry among Sudanese refugees which had begun in 2002. An additional afternoon service in the Nuer language of Southern Sudan began in the premises of the Christian Reformed Church of Dandenong, cnr Outlook Drive and Gladstone Road, North Dandenong in October 2005. Commonly around 200 people attended including many children. Mr Yoa also had the major responsibility for the small Glen Huntly service, but in 2009 this  changed with the Glen Huntly work relocating to Mulgrave 7 June 2009.

It was our hope that a new parish could be formed to reach many of the old and new settlers in Melbourne’s east and south east. We gave it the provisional name All Nations Presbyterian Church. A search for premises in Springvale or surrounding areas was fruitless, although a house on a corner block with room for small group meetings was purchased in Springvale in May 2007 with funds from the old Hamilton parish. Search for suitable church premises continued. Quite apart from availability of suitable premises the entry cost would be high because of parking requirements.

However, on 17 November 2008 we received an unsolicited approach from Bethel Baptist Church of Mulgrave, asking if we would be interested in their property as they were disbanding and had decided not to proceed with a merger with another church. Originally established by American fundamentalist missionaries in 1970, Bethel had moved to the Reformed faith in the 1980s. After inspection and careful consideration we expressed a positive interest. On 22 November, following a unanimous vote at a church meeting, Bethel resolved to offer us their land, building and contents at 91 Tiverton Drive, Mulgrave for $150,000, a most attractive price. The offer was accepted and contracts signed that day with settlement on 13 February 2009. The Springvale house was sold.

Erected in 1972 and re-roofed and renovated in 1997, during the pastorate of Graeme Lowe, the Mulgrave building had an area of 273m2 - a similar size to that at Narre Warren. As presently configured it would seat 120+. There was adequate parking as the land includes an electricity easement that cannot be built on but can be used for parking. A wonderful thanksgiving service was held on 1 January 2009. It was necessary to make an addition of 134m2 to provide Sunday school class rooms, and Town Planning permission was received in May 2009. Building commenced toward the end of August and was complete in December 2009. Meanwhile a regular Lord's Day morning service in English began 7 June 2009. The car park was upgraded to provide 29 asphalted spaces and improve the seriously overgrown landscaping while the interior was also upgraded and painted. All up the cost including the original purchase was about $400,000.The timbers windows and main entrance door were replaced in 2017 by aluminum-framed items.

The Sudanese service was moved to Mulgrave 3 January 2010. On 19 December 2010 the first 23 communicant members were received on profession of faith, on 2 January 2011 a further 21 and a further 6 on 16 January 2011. Women made up 34 of these 50 people  including many widows and some whose husbands were still in Sudan. All Nations became a separate parish with effect 31 March 2011.

On 27/8/2012 Isaac John was set apart as an elder.

In 2016 the congregation resolved to a more disciplined approach to regular giving and at the suggestion of the people an envelope system was introduced which has resulted in more committed giving and a significant reduction in the subsidy provided by Knox.

5. Carrum Downs

On 22 October 2010, the Southern Presbytery received a petition signed by 14 persons meeting at Carrum Downs under the leadership of Rev David Kumnick BD, MA (CEd), who had been minister of Frankston Presbyterian of Victoria from ordination 26 April 1991 until he lost his status on 13 April 2004 because he rejected the Declaratory Statement of that church in the light of which the Confession is to be read. They had met for a number of years as the Frankston Reformed Fellowship using the music room of Bayside Christian College for five years and the Lyrebird Drive Community Centre thereafter.

In the Presbyterian Church of Australia (Basis of Union 1901) the Confession is the Westminster Confession read in the light of a Declaratory Statement which explains/qualifies certain doctrines and gives liberty of opinion on matters not essential to the doctrine taught without defining those essential doctrines. Thus, rather than a robust commitment to the whole counsel of God, there is ambiguity and a creed that fluctuates with changing views of what is essential, which is not in line with a properly Confessional position.  An individual can maintain a fully orthodox position but has to live with the church’s position being somewhat uncertain, and virtually unchangeably so, and he must allow a wider liberty to others than he himself requires.

The petitioners were already known to the PCEA and careful investigation had occurred. The Presbytery was glad to unanimously receive the petitioners and form them into a preaching station under the Knox elders, and continue Mr Kumnick as supply preacher for the next two years.  The locality had already been considered a suitable field for church planting, so the approach was one that fitted well with overall strategy. Currently there was a service each Lord's Day at 10.30am.

An PCEA inauguration service was held on 21 November 2010 at which Rev David Kumnick was inducted as an elder and appointed stated supply. He applied for ministerial status in July 2011 and the application was approved by Synod in May 2012. His formal reception occurred in the Southern Presbytery on 16 June 2012. Mr Kumnick faithfully maintained the service but from early 2016 was impacted by health issues so the Interim-Moderator, Rev Dr Rowland Ward, filled in as required, usually once a month. Beginning April 2018, Dr Ward provided regular ministry and pastoral care given Mr Kumnick's continued ill-health.

In late June 2014 land of 1420m2 was purchased at 8 William Road, just off the Dandenong-Frankston Road (opposite the Bunnings Warehouse), with a view to erection of a place of worship. The uninhabitable old cottage and outbuildings on the land were demolished in April/May 2016, just after compensation from the builder of the Glen Huntly church conversion was received. The Carrum Downs cost to this point was $440,929. A planning permit application for a 230m2 church and 22 place car park was submitted to the City of Frankston (August 2016) and approved by VCAT in April 2017. Building plans were prepared and construction by builder George Chaia commenced in September 2017. The building was officially opened on Saturday 21 April 2018 at a well attended thanksgiving service. The overall cost, including the site, was met by the Knox Congregation, so the property is free of debt.

Now the building of the real church of believers begins, Jesus Christ the foundation.

6. Future church-planting

One must always be responsive to circumstances as they arise in God's providence, but it is likely that the areas east of Narre Warren will receive attention in the future, as one envisages strong population growth occurring. Also the north eastern area of Melbourne could be a focus for extension as the Lord enables, and the west. We are always ready to receive approaches from those who wish a reverent Bible-based ministry with warm Christian fellowship and an evangelistic focus.

A full, illustrated history of the PCEA was published by Dr Rowland S. Ward in April 2014 and is now available as a free download at .






Last Updated on Thursday, 02 May 2019 14:32