WITH the appointment of a new Priest-In-Charge at Medowie’s St Francis Anglican Christ Church, News Of The Area has looked into the early history of one of the Parish’s smallest churches, known affectionately as The Bush Church.
Medowie’s early 20th century experiences were characterised by material poverty.
Many people who moved into the area during the years of The Great Depression were victims of this economic and social disaster.
This impacted the resources of those attending Church and, it has been recorded, that when the Christians of the area, who at that stage were multi- denominational and meeting near the present day Fire Station, heard that Stockton’s Congregational Church was purchasing new hymn books, they requested the old ones.
The first Anglican service was held by famous Medowie man and World War I veteran, Mr Rees James who, as a lay reader (that is, not an official Priest, but someone allowed by the Church to preach) gave the first sermon at his property, Gwalia, in 1934 or 1935.
Services continued there until the community hall was opened in 1936, which then became the site for Anglican worship.
In a quirk of a bygone era, as there was not a set time for services, Mrs Ruby James, Rees’ wife, who ran the Medowie public telephone office and mailbag, would notify community members of the service by writing the message on their mail.
The community hall, although unlined and made of corrugated iron, was used and dressed-up by the congregation with carpet and curtains.
It was in 1967, after the Shire Council compulsorily acquired the land where the First Station currently stands, on the corner of Ferodale and Medowie Roads that the congregation moved to its current location, worshipping in the small building still standing today on the current site of Brocklesby Road.
It was not until 1971 that the church received its current name.
As written by local community member, Mrs Erica Mirfin, “The name of St Francis [of Assisi] was chosen as being appropriate because of his love of birds and animals which were numerous in Medowie.”
Here the congregation still meets, with an updated church building opening in 1984.
News Of The Area acknowledges the previously published work of Erica Mirfin (nee James) in compiling this article.
By Heather SHARP