Soldiers Point Uniting Church have held their final service

The final service at Soldiers Point Uniting Church was held on Sunday 24 September.

THE members of Soldiers Point Uniting Church marked the end of an era when they held their final service in the building on Soldiers Point Road on Sunday 24 September.

The service was a bittersweet affair, paying homage to the storied history of the congregation in the area while acknowledging the inescapable truth that, eventually, all things must end.

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Although the church building itself was constructed in 1954, the history of the congregation reaches back nearly a full century, when a small number of Christians gathered in a local boatshed in 1925.

Port Stephens Uniting Church Minister Glenys Biddle, who has been seeing to the pastoral needs of Soldiers Point congregants since she commenced ministry in the area in 2020, conducted the final service.

“Back in those earliest days there was no road that connected Soldiers Point to Nelson Bay and the churches there, and the road that did exist was quite difficult to use, so the people who settled there would have been a bit isolated,” she shared of the church’s history.

At this time the area was known as ‘Friendship Point’, but would see some extensive development during war time thanks to the U.S. Navy, who built the first road to link with the rest of the Tomaree Peninsula.

Speaking of Port Stephens as a whole Ms Biddle said, “As the area has developed the community has become more connected from one point to another.”

Though church gatherings were inconsistent during those first 30 years, enough of a congregation had formed in the early 1950’s to seek association with an established denomination.

When discussions with the Anglican congregation at Nelson Bay failed to bear fruit the members planted initially as a Methodist Church in 1954.

Following the unification of three Australian Christian denominations in 1977, the church became Soldiers Point Uniting Church.

Meagan Harding is a resident of the area and one time member of the church.

Posting a notice about the final service at the Soldiers Point building on social media, Meagan shared her personal connection.

“My son’s christening was the last one at Soldiers Point in 2003.

“So sad to see this little church close.”

Some other former members shared their own treasured memories of their years with the congregation.

“(We) were members for over 20 years and celebrated reaffirming our vows on our 40th wedding anniversary in 2003.

“A lot of very wonderful memories.”

Ms Biddle adopted the responsibility for the congregation as part of her pastoral duties at Port Stephens Uniting Church, holding services in Soldiers Point for the early risers at 7:45am on Sundays.

Eventually, however, those who faithfully attended were forced to admit the difficulties in managing such a property.

“The site has become a challenge for some of our older members,” said Ms Biddle.

“It’s on a significant slope which makes it more difficult for some.

“Parking has also been an ongoing issue along that road.”

In appreciating the pain in laying down such a significant part of their heritage, Ms Biddle is joyful about the opportunity to continue to minister to the needs of her members at the Salamander Bay church site.

“We are blessed to have very good facilities here, and have been able to welcome and integrate the Soldiers Point members into our gathered worship at Salamander Bay.”

By Lindsay HALL

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