One Hundred Years of Presbyterianism on the North Shore, 1844-1944:
St Peters Presbyterian Church, North Sydney
Rev. John Calder
ST. PETERS PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH NORTH SYDNEY
Who were the first Presbyterians to settle on the North Shore, and when they formed themselves into a small company for the celebration of their religious ordinances, it is impossible now to say. We may assume, however, that amongst the earliest residents on the North Shore were some who professed their adherence to the Presbyterian faith. In support of this belief it may be mentioned that the Rev. Dr. John Dunmore Lang, the first ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church in Australia, officiated at the first marriage celebrated on the North Shore. This marriage was solemnized between Mr. William Shairp, a clerk in the Colonial Secretarys Office, and Miss Sophia Milson, the oldest daughter of Mr. James Milson, of North Shore.
It is an undisputable historical fact, however, that the rise of Presbyterianism, in a definite concrete form on the northern, side of the Harbour, dates back to the year 1844. In that year a Crown grant of land on which to erect a church, manse and school was made to the Established Church of Scotland, where the Presbyterians of the district could erect suitable buildings for the celebration of the ordinances of their religion, and for the education of their children.
The piece of land granted for this purpose was situated on the main roadway leading northward from Blues Point, and on the elevated ground overlooking Lavender Bay, and commanded a magnificent view of the Harbour. The original title deeds of this land have been handed over to the Trustees of the Presbyterian Church in New South Wales for their safe custody.
On Friday evening, May 3, 1844, a meeting was held at the temporary school-house on the North Shore for the purpose of electing trustees, and considering the best means for the erection of a school on the ground recently granted to the Synod of Australia for that purpose. The meeting was opened with the singing of a psalm and prayer by the Rev. Dr. J. Fullerton, and the following persons were chosen as trustees: G. A. Bell, J. Blue, J. French, J. McMillan, R. Lepper. Before the meeting separated, nearly the whole of the persons present signified their intention of contributing towards the erection of the school.
Evidently the Presbyterian folk on the North Shore in these early days were deeply concerned about the welfare of their children. They could not afford to postpone their educational and religious training until the arrival of a minister in their midst. They felt an inward call summoning them to immediate action. So, with commendable zeal and energy, they built a school-housea simple wooden structure, some 24 feet in length and 18 feet in breadthon a site not far from the junction of Blues Point Road and Lavender Street, and thus laid the foundations of Presbyterianism on the North Shore. This school, it may be said, was the first of any denomination to be established in the township across the Harbour.
We cannot for a moment imagine that this building would be reserved solely for educational purposes. These early settlers, we must remember, were themselves the descendants of devout and God-fearing parents, and were much attached to the Church of their fathers; and would not be content to live in their new surroundings bereft of the opportunity and privilege of worshipping God on the Lords Day, as they had been wont to do in, the homeland. There can be no reasonable ground, therefore, to doubt the accuracy of the tradition that occasional services were held in the school-house during the forties and fifties by Dr. Lang, and by other ministers who had come from the Old Country to take up the work of the ministry in the new Colony.
And so, for well nigh a score of years, this school-house served the double purpose of providing educational facilities and religious ordinances for the Presbyterian families living on the North Shore in these days. It was the centre around which gathered all their hopes and aspirations for the future, the place where the children were taught how to read and write, and to their parents was broken the Bread of Life. Such a place we can readily believe would be dear to their hearts. The very timbers, the seats and furnishings of the building, so commonplace to strangers passing by, would shine upon them with a spiritual radiance and be to them none other but the house of God.
Greater things than these, however, were in store for the Presbyterians on the North Shore. Prior to 1860, the North Shore had not much of a population, nor was the business of the township extensive. But in that year it began to attract residents on account of its proximity to the Harbour and access to the city, and also because of the natural beauty of the foreshores around Blues Point and Lavender Bay.
In 1861 a ferry service was inaugurated between Dawes Point and Blues Point, and shortly afterwards a road was constructed from Milsons Point to the main road leading to the township of St. Leonards, as North Sydney was then called. Hotels and business premises were soon erected along this road, and the commercial centre of the North Shore extended to Miller and Mount Streets, when banks and other public buildings were opened.
In the midst of all this growth and development, the Presbyterian people began to feel that the time had arrived when they should have a settled minister to look after their spiritual requirements, and no longer be dependent upon the haphazard arrangements for the supply of religious ordinances that had prevailed in the past. They realized that they could never form themselves into a congregation until a permanent minister was appointed.
REV. CUNNINGHAM ATCHISON 18631869
In 1863, certain of their number sent a call to the Rev. Cunningham Atchison, of Wollongong, to be their minister, and in due course he was inducted into the pastoral charge of the congregationthe first Presbyterian minister to be settled on the North Shore. Mr. Atchison was one of the ministers who came out to the Colony with Dr. Lang in 1837, and was a staunch supporter of the Established Church of Scotland. Unfortunately, no church records of his ministry on the North Shore now exist, but the leading newspapers of that day supply information of unquestioned historical value.
As new residents continued to move into the North Shore, the first school-house began to be utterly inadequate for the needs of the growing population. It was felt that a new school, capable of accommodating a larger number of pupils, would have to be built without delay. Plans and specifications of a new building were speedily drawn up and approved, and on December 21, 1863, the foundation stone of St. Peters Presbyterian School was laid by Mr. John McMillan, senior trustee, in the presence of a large assembly of ladies and gentlemen interested in the proceedings. The ceremony was conducted by the Rev. John McGibbon, Moderator of the Synod of Australia.
It must have been a day of great rejoicing when, six months later, the new building was formally opened by the Rev. John McGibbon. The children were mustered in the old school-house, and marched at 12 oclock into the new building, of which they were delighted to take possession. In an interesting address, the Moderator commended the trustees for their praiseworthy exertions and perseverance in carrying out to completion so fine a school, which, he remarked, was a credit to them, and an ornament to the locality.
Divine worship was conducted every Sunday morning in the new school, but the Rev. C. Atchisons name is never mentioned in the list of the ministers who officiated at the services. This may seem strange to us nowadays, but the explanation of this anomaly is to be found in the denominational differences peculiar to the time. After the Disruption in Scotland in 1843, the spirit of disunion spread more or less to all the colonies, and for a while the three great divisions of the Church in Scotland were repeated and, as Dr. J. R. Fleming says, made worse on Australian soil.
Suffice it to say that the three divisions of Scottish Presbyterianism had their representatives in the church life of the Colony, each section recognizing its Mother Church as its ecclesiastical superior, until the year 1865, when this connection with the Home Churches was dissolved, and the three sections became one United ChurchThe Presbyterian Church of New South Wales.
When the Rev. C. Atchison came to the North Shore two years prior to this important event, a feeling of disunity and antipathy was rife among the Presbyterians then living in the district. From official records we learn that the Presbytery of Sydney, at a meeting held in St. Andrews Church on 1st November, 1865, dealt with a complaint against the trustees of the school property at St. Leonards, North Shore, for refusing the use of the school for public worship on the Sabbath in connection with Mr. Atchisons congregation.
Three months later a petition signed by 59 Presbyterians on the North Shore was forwarded to the Presbytery, requesting the supply of religious ordinances. When the Presbytery decided, that the petition be referred to a committee to make further inquiries respecting it, and to report to a future meeting of the Presbytery two of its members entered their dissent from the decision of the Presbytery, and protested for leave to complain to the General Assembly.
Whether this had anything to do with the next important step in the progress of Presbyterianism on the North Shore, we cannot say. But the fact remains that about this time a commencement was made with the erection of a sacred edifice, worthy of the best traditions of the Presbyterian Church, on the land granted by the Crown for this purpose. Important as such an event undoubtedly was for the general well-being of the community, no mention can be found even in the leading newspapers of the day of the laying of the foundation stone of this structure. But then the couplet rushes on our minds:
Who builds a church to God, and not to fame
Will never mark the marble with his name.
It was not ushered in with an impressive ceremony of the kind that most churches can boast. With a minimum of fuss or noise, the imposing fabric rose upward to the sky; and, after six months of hard and unremitting toil, the first section of what was to be the Mother Church of the Presbyterian faith on the northern side of the Harbour stood forth in all its unrivalled beauty and glory.
Built of a hard species of freestone, hewn from the rock on which it was erected, of Gothic design and plain elongated form, with buttressed sides and having in front a handsome tower and spire, rising to a height of 80 feet, St. Peters Church became a veritable landmark on the North Shore, and in the olden days guided many a mariner as he brought his ship, often battered and torn, to a safe anchorage in the Harbour.
Little information is now available as to the actual building of the church, but we do know that the stone and woodwork of the building was faithfully carried out by the father and uncle of Mr. George Eaton, Slade Street, Naremburn, who is still associated with the work and worship of St. Peters Church.
Special services in connection with the Opening of the Church were held on Sunday, 16th September, 1865 at 11 a.m. by the Rev. Adam Thomson, Moderator of the General Assembly; at 3 p.m. by the Rev. Dr. Wazir Beg; and at 7 p.m. by the Rev. C. Atchison; resident minister of the charge. Continuation services were held on the following Sunday: at 11 a.m. by the Rev. John McGibbon, B.A., and at 7 p.m. by the Rev. T. A. Gordon.
How the church fared during the first two years of its existence we are precluded from knowing, owing to the absence of all church records belonging to the time. But the fact that services were regularly held on the Sunday from the day when it was officially opened for public worship is recorded in the newspapers of the day. Early in 1869, we know that the Rev. C. Atchison demitted the pastoral charge of St. Peters Church, and the supply of its ordinances fell into the hands of the Presbytery of Sydney.
REV. JAMES STIRLING MUIR, M.A. 18701871
After a vacancy lasting a year, the Rev. James Stirling Muir, M.A., received a call from the congregation to be their minister. Early in 1870, Mr. Muir arrived in Sydney from Wellington, New Zealand, on his way to the Old Country. During his stay in the city he was invited to conduct the services in St. Peters Church on Sunday, 6th March, 1870, and so satisfied were the members of the congregation with his ministrations that they memorialized the Presbytery of Sydney that he should be appointed minister of the charge.
On signifying his intention to accept the call, Mr. Muir was inducted into the pastoral charge of St. Peters Church, North Shore, on Tuesday, 12th April, 1870. The Rev. Adam Thomson presided at the service, and the Rev. Robert Lewers, minister of St. Andrews Church, Sydney, preached the sermon. Thereafter, the Rev. A. Thomson delivered a brief and fervent exhortation to the newly inducted minister and members of his flock on their reciprocative duties and obligations.
In a remarkably short space of time the impress of Mr. Muirs presence and personality was felt in the congregation, and on every hand there was evidence that the people to whom he ministered reciprocated his warm affection. Harmony prevailed in the church councils, and the opinion was general that St. Peters Church had entered upon an era of peace and prosperity.
Four months after Mr. Muirs settlement the members of the church began to realize that their new place of worship was too small for the increasing congregation, and that its enlargement was urgently imperative. It was decided, therefore, to proceed without further delay with the completion of the scheme which had been agreed on in 1866. The contemplated enlargement was in reality only the finalizing of the original plan. To meet the cost of this addition to the church the sum of £750 had already been raised, largely due to the fine generosity shown by Mr. Henry Allan and one or two other gentlemen. When finished, the enlarged church was seated to accommodate fully 200 people.
Special services in connection with the Opening of the enlarged church were held on Sunday, 16th October, 1870, and were numerously attended. The preachers were as follows: At 11 a.m., the Rev. J. S. Muir, M.A., Minister of the church. At 3 p.m., the Rev. Dr. Steel, of Phillip Street, Sydney. At 7 p.m., the Rev. Dr. J. McGibbon, of Palmer Street, Woolloomooloo.
To celebrate the event, a tea meeting was held on the following evening in the School of Arts, North Shore, and, notwithstanding the rainy weather, nearly 300 persons sat down to tea. Afterwards, a public meeting was held, at which Mr. Muir presided and congratulated those present upon the auspicious event which they had met to celebrate. He referred to the liberality which had characterized the members of the church, as shown in their contributions to the new edifice, and stated that it was opened free of debt.
Another important event in Mr. Muirs ministry was the building of a fine manse for the minister of the parish. No information is now available as to who designed and built it. The only reference to, its erection is to be found in a report of the public meeting which was held on Tuesday, 18th April, 1871, to celebrate the first anniversary of the induction of Mr. Muir into the pastoral charge of the congregation. At this meeting reference was made by the various speakersRevs. Dr. Lang, Dr. Fullerton, R. Lewersto the fine building, now nearly completed, that had been erected adjoining the church as a, residence for Mr. Muir.
We know, however, from records in our possession that Mr. Henry Allan generously contributed the sum of £885 towards its erection. And St. Peters Manse shallyea, muststand forever as a mute testimonial of his liberality to the church. After this we know nothing of Mr. Muirs ministry on the North Shore, except what we read in The Centenary History of the Presbyterian Church in New South Wales; he demitted his charge in 1871 and left the Colony. But not before he had won a strong place in the affection of his people by his fine spiritual preaching, his faithful pastoral service, and his sterling quality as a Christian man.
REV. DUNCAN ROSS 18731878
Faced once more with the unfortunate position of not having a minister of their own, the congregation of St. Peters Church had to depend for the supply of religious ordinances upon those ministers whose services were available for this purpose. This arrangement, however, proved far from being satisfactory, so, in May, 1872, the Committee of Management (through their chairman, Mr. Henry Allan) approached the Presbytery of Illawarra, with a view to securing the Rev. Roger McKinnon as their minister. The Clerk replied that the Presbytery could not see its way to sanction the transfer of Mr. McKinnon from the charge of Wollongong to that of St. Leonards.
It was then resolved that arrangements should be made with Mr. Archibald Turnbull, to continue his services for a period of six months, and that he be paid at the rate of £130 per annum, together with the use of the manse. But this arrangement turned out to be so highly unsatisfactory that, on 5th May, 1873, a meeting of the congregation was called for the purpose of petitioning the Presbytery of Sydney for moderation in a call to a minister.
This resulted in a call being sent to the Rev. Duncan Ross, minister of Muswellbrook. He was an ordained minister of the Established Church of Scotland, and arrived in the Colony in the beginning of 1857. For seventeen years he had ministered faithfully and with, much acceptance to the Presbyterian folk in Muswellbrook.
From the commencement of his ministry on the North Shore Mr. Ross health was such as to preclude him from taking an active share in church matters which he, otherwise, might have done. Towards the end of 1874, he intimated to the Kirk Session that it would be necessary for him to take a trip to Europe with a view to the restoration of his health. The congregation accordingly agreed to release him from his pastoral duties for twelve months, provided suitable arrangements were made for the permanent supply of the pulpit during his leave of absence.
Mr. Dymock, who had been labouring as a catechist at Sutton Forest, seemed to the Kirk Session and the Committee of Management to be the most eligible person for this position. So a petition was presented to the Presbytery of Sydney, asking them to secure Mr. Dymocks services for the charge at St. Leonards. The Presbytery of Sydney granted the prayer of the petition, and requested the Church extension Committee to assign Mr. Dymock to the Presbytery of Sydney for the purpose stated in the petition.
During Mr. Ross absence from the charge things went from bad to worse. The church seemed to retrograde. Dissatisfaction was felt with regard to the appointments of pulpit supply, and the state of the finances of the church was at so low an ebb that they were insufficient to pay the ministers stipend. Altogether, it was a disquietful state of affairs that confronted Mr. Ross on his return from his trip abroad.
Six months later, when the state of the church finances showed no signs of improvement, the Committee of Management held a special meeting to confer with Mr. Ross in regard to the critical position of affairs. At this meeting a letter was read from Mr. Ross signifying his intention to lay his resignation before the Presbytery of Sydney at the earliest opportunity. When the matter of Mr. Ross resignation came before the Presbytery, a committee was appointed to confer with Mr. Ross and the congregation upon the steps to be taken anent Mr. Ross resignation.
The conference proving ineffectual, Dr. Lang, Moderator of the Interim Kirk Session, called a meeting of the members and adherents of the church, to be held in the church on Wednesday, 27th December, 1876, to take into consideration the present circumstances and prospects of the church in regard to the prospect of a regular dispensation of the ordinances of religion for the future and also whether it would not be expedient and desirable under existing circumstances, to give a call to the Rev. R. Robertson, who appears to be highly esteemed by the congregation, to undertake the pastoral charge of the church and congregation as Colleague and Successor to the Rev. Duncan Ross.
At the congregational meeting which followed a petition was drawn up and forwarded to the Presbytery of Sydney, requesting them to grant moderation in a call to a Colleague and Successor to the Rev. Duncan Ross, and appoint an early day for proceeding with the same.
REV. ROBERT ROBERTSON 18771878
A call was then given to the Rev. Robert Robertson, who had recently been admitted from the Established Church of Scotland, and early in 1877 he was inducted as Colleague and Successor to the Rev. Duncan Ross.
The settlement of the new Minister gave a new impetus to the spiritual affairs of the congregation, encouraged the Committee of Management to renewed exertions in its temporal concerns, and a most satisfactory improvement in the various organizations of the church became at once apparent.
Amongst other improvements to the church property to be noted was the laying on of gas to the church, which enabled the members of the congregation to enjoy the comforts of a well-lighted church. A similar advantage was provided for the minister in the manse, which underwent at the same time a thorough overhaul and re-painting; and for a large portion of the cost of this the congregation was again indebted to the kindness of Mr. Henry Allan, of whom it is needless to say that the generosity which characterized him in former years had not diminished in the ministry of the Rev. Robert Robertson.
In March, 1878, the Rev. Duncan Ross received a call from the congregation at Walcha, which he accepted, and immediately following the announcement of his departure from the North Shore came the resignation of the Rev. R. Robertson, whose settlement in the charge had been so recent and attended with such bright hopes of success. The Committee felt that Mr. Robertson was somewhat hasty in concluding that his failing health was conclusive evidence that the climate did not suit him, but as he seemed fully persuaded that his speedy return to Scotland was necessary for his restoration to health, they did not feel warranted in offering any opposition to his release from the charge.
Accordingly, at the congregational meeting which followed, the recommendation of the Committee to concur in his resignation was adopted with manifest feelings of great sorrow. Thus the relations between Mr. Robertson and the members of the congregation, which had ever been of the kindliest nature, were suddenly closed.
REV. ROGER McKINNON 18781903
In the first years of its existence St. Peters Church passed through congregational difficulties of no inconsiderable magnitude, largely due to the frequent changes in the pastorate of the church and the protracted nature of the vacancies that ensued. Once again, in the course of its eventful history, it had to face all the anxieties of another vacancy. But on this occasion the Committee of Management were fortunate in securing excellent supplies for the pulpit, so that the congregation had opportunities of hearing several eligible ministers, and it was a great satisfaction to the committee that they unanimously selected for their minister the Rev. Roger McKinnon, of Tumut and Adelong, who had gained their entire confidence and esteem.
Born at Carlisle, England, in 1835, Mr. Roger McKinnon came out to the Colony in 1864, and was appointed as catechist in the district of Penrith. In 1868 he received a call from Wollongong, in conjunction with Albion Park, and was inducted as minister of the united parish, and laboured there with much zeal until 1873, when he accepted a call to Hill End. In 1876 he was inducted into the charge of Tumut and Adelong, and continued to minister there with marked success till 1878, when a call from St. Peters Church, St. Leonards, in his favour was forwarded to the Presbytery of Young [Goulburn?].
The call was in due course sustained by the Presbytery of Young, and on 17th September, 1878, the Rev. Roger McKinnon was inducted into the pastoral charge of St. Peters Church. With the settlement of Mr. McKinnon as minister of the parish, a new chapter commenced in the history of Presbyterianism on the North Shore. In a short time he had not only by his energy materially added to the numerical strength of the congregation, but had also by his sincere piety infused a fresh vitality into their spiritual life, and secured the affectionate esteem of one and all amongst them.
Before he came to the North Shore, Mr. McKinnon had the reputation of being a church-building minister, and when he became minister of St. Peters Church he found ample scope for the exercise of his bent. In view of the rapidly increasing attendances at the Sunday services and the growing demands for sittings in the church, the Committee was forced to consider seriously the question of providing additional accommodation in the church for the regular worshippers. A sub-committee was accordingly appointed to devise a scheme for raising funds to enlarge the church, and to submit plans and specifications of the enlargement to the congregation for their approval.
The sub-committee submitted two plans: one, showing, an extension to the south from the side wall of the existing building, giving accommodation in all for 342 persons; the other showing an extension across the western end of the existing building, giving accommodation in all for the same number of persons. Six tenders were submitted for each scheme, and, after some discussion, it was decided to adopt the former plan and to accept Mr. C. G. Middletons offer to carry out the work at a cost of £1,005. Mr. J. J. Davey was appointed architect for the enlargement.
The Laying of the Comer-Stone of this enlargement took place on Saturday, 11th June, 1881. A bottle containing copies of the Sydney Morning Herald, The Presbyterian, and a brief sketch of the history of St. Peters Church, having been laid in the place prepared for it, Henry Allan Esq. was invited, in the name of the congregation, to lay the Corner-Stone, which he did accordingly, and pronounced it, well and truly laid in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The Right Rev. H. Macready, Moderator of the General Assembly, the Revs. Dr. Steel, A. Gardiner, J. M, Ross, R. McKinnon, minister of the congregation, and Mr. J. Paxton, J.P., were present, and took part in the ceremony.
After the stone was laid, the Rev. R. McKinnon, in the name of the congregation, presented to Mr. Allan the mallet and silver trowel, accompanied by a beautiful illuminated address, expressive of the esteem in which he was held by his fellow-worshippers, and their appreciation of his liberality to the church during a period of many years. Special services in connection with the Re-Opening of the enlarged church were held on Sunday, 12th February, 1882, the preachers on the occasion being: At 11 a.m., at which the Sacrament of the Lords Supper was dispensedthe Rev. William Grant, M.A., minister of Shoalhaven. At 3 p.m. especially for the youngJoseph Paxton, Esq., J.P. At 7 p.m., the Rev. Dr. Steel.
When the Treasurers statement of the Building Fund was submitted to the Committee of Management, it was found that, after all demands had been met, a sum of £73 would be available for further improvements. It was then decided to use this money for the erection of a dwarf wall and iron railings in front of the church land.
On 1st December, 1884, the Committee of Management determined to enlarge and improve the church building by the erection of an organ chancel in the northern transept, capable of holding a large pipe organ, and additional sittings to accommodate the choir. It was considered that the chancel would add considerably to the architectural beauty of the church. This improvement meant that the roof of the old nave would have to be taken off and a new one put on, to correspond with the enlargement which had been completed three years before. The cost was estimated to be in the vicinity of £1,000, and Messrs, Eaton & Sons were asked to carry out the work.
It was also reported that the organ had been shipped on the Benares and might be expected in Sydney about the middle of February next. The instrument had been built by Messrs. Maley, Young and Oldknow, of London, and the excellence of their workmanship was attested by Mr. E. H. Turpin, Hon. Secretary of the College of Organists, R.A.M., who had acted on behalf of the Committee in their absence.
On Sunday, 8th March, 1885, special services were held in connection with the Installation of the Grand Pipe Organ: At 11 a.m., the Rev. Dr. W. Grant preached and Mr. Montague Younger presided at the organ. At 3 p.m., a Service of Sacred Song, Mr. J. Massey being the organist. At 7 p.m., the Rev. Dr. McDonald, of Victoria, preached, and Miss Anderson, organist of the church, presided at the organ.
Special voluntaries were played a quarter of an hour before the commencement of each service,
A grand Sacred Concert was held on the following evening, consisting of selections from Eli (Costa), Naaman (Costa), first time in Sydney, The Creation, The Messiah, etc., the organists being Miss Andersen and Herr Hugo Alpen, who took up the work at an hours notice. Alex. Dodds, Esq., was in the chair.
In 1885 the Rev. Roger McKinnon was elected Moderator of the General Assemblythe only minister of St. Peters Church who has attained this high office in the Presbyterian Church in New South Wales. During his term of office he intimated to the Kirk Session that it was his desire to revisit his native land. Leave of absence for six months was granted to him by the Presbytery of Sydney, and the Rev. J. M. Ross was appointed Interim Moderator of the Session of St. Peters,
Shortly after his return from his visit to the Old Country, Mr. McKinnon expressed a desire to have the church improvements completed by the replacement of the original frosted windows with stained-glass, hand-painted windows. In course of time all the windows of the church were of this type, and ever since have caught the imagination of all who have seen them. They will stand for all time as a memorial of Mr. McKinnons desire to make the sanctuary beautiful and glorious within.
The year 1890 witnessed another important event in the progress of the Presbyterian cause on the North Shore. The Committee of Management received a letter from the Secretary o£ the Sunday School, pointing out the unsuitableness of the Sunday School building for the purpose for which it was used, and asking the Committee to invite the congregation at the next annual meeting to request and empower the School trustees to erect a more suitable building of a permanent character. Plans were submitted of a building estimated to cost about £2,000.
At the congregational meeting which followed, the Kirk Session and the Committee of Management in conjunction with the trustees of the school property were authorized to take steps to raise time necessary funds, by subscriptions and debentures, and having done so to proceed to erect a new School Hall as proposed. Tenders for the work were called for, and the tender of Messrs. W. Eaton & Sons was accepted, and Mr. B. Weitzel was appointed architect.
To mark the Opening of the new School Hall, and to assist in the cost of furnishing it, a Bazaar was held on Tuesday, 20th October, 1891, the opening ceremony being performed by the Hon. Alex. Dodds, M.L.C., in the presence of a large audience. The total proceeds therefrom amounted to £370, and the undertaking was declared a thorough success.
In all the work of enlarging and improving St. Peters Church, Mr. McKinnon had taken an active part. For fifteen years he had spared neither his strength nor his energy in furthering the cause of Presbyterianism on the North Shore, but the day had come when his health was beginning to show signs of decline and, as an inevitable result of this, a spirit of inertia began to settle down gradually within the church itself. No church on earth, writes Dr. R. G. Balfour, need expect unbroken prosperity for any length of time. Sooner or later storms will come that will put its faith and patience to the proof.
Such was the experience of St. Peters Church during the nineties. A gradual decrease in the attendances at the Sunday services and a falling-off in the ordinary revenue of the church, accentuated no doubt by the continued financial depression then existing throughout the State, began to occasion some uneasiness in the minds of the office-bearers and member of the congregation. The result was that a deputation from the Committee of Management waited upon Mr., McKinnon to confer with him as to the state of the church finances.
It was at this juncture that some members of the congregation, out of sympathy with their minister, decided to hold a Social Evening, to celebrate the twenty-first anniversary of Mr. McKinnons settlement in the charge. The function was held in the School Hall on Monday, 18th September, 1899, and was largely attended. After several speakers had testified to the respect and esteem in which their minister was held, Mr. S. Sinclair, one of the oldest members of the church, presented an address to Mr. McKinnon and, as a tangible proof of affection, a handsome morocco reading chair, to which was affixed a moveable book-rest, and a revolving book-case. To Mrs. McKinnon, who had been a worthy helper in the welfare of the congregation, was presented a silver tea and coffee service. The Rev. R. McKinnon feelingly thanked his parishioners for the expressions contained in the address and their handsome gifts.
But even this manifestation of loyalty and esteem for their minister had not the effect of producing any lasting improvement in the state of the congregational finances. So, towards the end of 1902, the Kirk Session resolved that in the best interests of the church it was desirable to get Rev. McKinnon an assistant, provided the necessary financial arrangements could be made. The matter of the appointment of an assistant was in due course referred to the members of the congregation, when, at a meeting held on 20th April, 1903, it was resolved, after considerable discussion, that the matter be postponed for the time being.
Six months lateron the 11th November, 1903-the Rev. Roger McKinnon, weighed down by the burden of years and declining health, in the midst of those he tenderly loved and cared for, quietly fell asleep. His passing was like the going of Valiant-for-Truth in Pilgrims Progress: So he passed over and all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side. Thus ended the ministry of this faithful servant of God, who for a quarter of a century had guided the destinies of Presbyterianism on the North Shore.
Eighteen months after Mr. McKinnons death, the congregation placed on the wall of the northern transept of the church a handsome bronze tablet, in loving memory of their late pastor.
REV. JAMES KINGHORN 19041912
At the opening of the century great changes had taken place in the rank and file of the Presbyterian Church in New South Wales, and church life and work had become more highly organized. The supply of ministers from overseas was plentiful, and adequate provision for the training of Australian-born men for the ministry had already been made in the Theological Hall. The result of these changes was that when a vacancy in a charge occurred, there were plenty of eligible ministers from whom to make a selection. This was the position of things in general when the vacancy in the pastorate of St. Peters Church took place, owing to the death of the Rev. R. McKinnon, and, in consequence only a short time elapsed before it was filled.
The Rev. Robert Hope Waugh M.A., minister of Neutral Bay, was appointed Interim Moderator of the Session, and presided at a congregational meeting held in the church on the 21st December, 1903, when it was unanimously agreed, that a committee be appointed to act with the Session in the selection of candidates to be heard, and to take such other action as may be necessary with a view to the filling of the vacancy.
The selection committee then proceeded to draw up two lists of ministers, who were considered as probably the most eligible for the vacancy. It was then suggested that members of the committee, together or separately, should endeavour to hear some of these ministers in their own pulpits, and report to the committee their impressions as to their suitability, or otherwise, to fill the vacancy in the church. The selection committee acted with such expedition that, within three months of their appointment, they were in a position to recommend to the congregation to petition the Presbytery of Sydney for leave to moderate in a call.
In pursuance of a direction by the Presbytery of Sydney, a congregational meeting was held in the church on the 12th April, 1904, for the purpose of moderating in a call. The Rev. R. H. Waugh, M.A., presided, and the Rev. Alex. Miller, M.A., delivered an exhortation suitable to the occasion. It was then unanimously carried that the name of the Rev. James Kinghorn, of Bathurst, be inserted in the call. The call was signed by all who were present.
The Rev. James Kinghorn was born at Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1861, and received his education in his native city. He was ordained to the ministry by the Free Church Presbytery of Aberdeen, and came to New South Wales in 1886, His first appointment here was to the charge of Bourke, where he laboured for two years preaching, visiting, and dispensing the sacraments in that extensive and sparsely populated parish, with great acceptance to the people and at considerable sacrifice to himself.
From that outpost in the far West, he was appointed, first as assistant, and then as colleague and successor, to the Rev. James Cameron, D.D., at Richmond, and there the impact of his Christ-filled personality was very deeply felt. From there he passed, in 1895, to St. Stephens, Bathurst, where he ministered to the Presbyterians in that district with unabating zeal and fidelity until he received a call from St. Peters Church, North Sydney, in 1904.
On the evening of Friday, 4th June, 1904, the Presbytery of Sydney met in St. Peters Church for the induction of the Rev. James Kinghorn. The Rev. William McKenzie, Moderator of the Presbytery presided, and the Rev. James Steel preached the sermon. After the prescribed questions had been satisfactorily answered, the Rev. James Kinghorn was duly inducted into the pastoral charge of St. Peters Church. The Rev. J. F. Blair then addressed the newly-inducted minister, and the Rev. J. S. Scott the congregation.
On the following Tuesday a Social Evening in the School Hall was tendered to Mr. Kinghorn, when addresses of welcome were delivered by the Rev. W. H. Ash, and Messrs. S. Sinclair, D. Carment, and D. Smith. In the course of the evening, other interesting addresses were delivered by Mr. McCreadie, Chief Inspector of Schools, and by Dr. Cameron, who feelingly referred to the early work of the late Rev. R. McKinnon and the newly-inducted minister, both of whom laboured under him during their early experience in the Colony. Mr. Kinghorn suitably replied to the addresses, and expressed his thanks for and appreciation of a pulpit Bible which was presented to him by Mrs. Doig, on behalf of the ladies of the congregation.
One of the first acts to be recorded in Mr. Kinghorns ministry in St. Peters was the introduction of individual cups to be used at the communion services. A set of communion cups, tray and case was presented to the church by Dr. J. R. M. Robertson, and these were used for the first time at the celebration of the Sacrament of the Lords Supper on Sunday, 4th September, 1904the arrangement working smoothly and satisfactorily.
At the end of the first year of his ministry in North Sydney, Mr. Kinghorns success and popularity as a preacher had attracted, in addition to the members of his congregation, so many worshippers from other congregations in the neighbourhood that the seating accommodation of the church was taxed to the utmost. Chairs had to be provided to cope with the increasing attendances, and ere long the Kirk Session and the Committee of Management were of the opinion that a further enlargement of the church was absolutely imperative. A sub-committee, appointed to consider the question, unanimously agreed to recommend to the congregation that the church should be enlarged by extending the western transept for about 20 feet, which would provide about 100 additional sittings.
Having secured the Presbyterys approval of the proposed addition to the church, the Committee of Management called for tenders, and after certain modifications were made in the specifications, recommended that the tender of Messrs, Grant & Mathison (at £595) be accepted. The work was completed in the early part of 1906, and added much to the beauty of the church and the comfort of the congregation. A prominent feature of the enlargement was the insertion in the wall of the western transept of a large rose window, embodying in beautiful colours the emblem of the Presbyterian Churchthe Burning Bush.
It is worthy of mention here that about this time November, 1905a letter was received from the Presbytery, asking that the name of the charge be changed from St. Peters Church, St. Leonards, to St. Peters Church, North Sydney. The Kirk Session assented to the change of name.
The years 1906 to 1909, were uneventful years in the history of the church. The old organizations were maintained with enthusiasm and effectiveness, and several new institutions were commenced, notably the Girls Club which had taken a firm hold in the community. Substantial additions continued to be made to the Communion Roll, and the records show quiet progress, happy fellowship, and steady work. Outside the parish the minister had served in several of the Church Committees, and had done duty as Senior Chaplain of the Commonwealth Military Forces.
In 1909 a considerable sum of money was expended on the improvement of the main entrance to the church and mansenew gates and stone pillars for sameand the laying out of the garden and paths, which added greatly to the attractiveness of the property.
In accordance with the provisions of the Will of the late Mrs Busby, her representatives forwarded, towards the end of 1910, a sum of £50 as a donation to the funds of the church to be allocated as might be thought proper. The Committee having determined that considerable alterations were necessary to the manse building, decided to set apart this sum as the nucleus of a fund for carrying out this necessary work. Dr. Robertson also contributed the sum of £50 and offered to lend, free from interest, any money which the Committee might require in order to complete the necessary alterations and additions to the manse.
The Committee, in view of the amount available for this purpose and in consideration of the fact that the accommodation of the manse was totally inadequate, determined to recommend the congregation to authorize them to proceed with the work, in accordance with plans and specifications prepared by Mr. J. A. Kethel, architect. At a special meeting of the congregation held on 15th February, 1911, the congregation approved of the committees recommendation, and authorized Mr. Carment to sign the necessary contract on behalf of the Committee. The work was successfully completed during the year, and the entire cost of the enlargement and improvement of the manse amounted to £572.
The sudden and severe illness of Mr. Kinghorn in September, 1911, came as a great shock to all, and caused deep distress and anxiety to the congregation. The Rev. Professor R. G. Macintyre kindly came to the help of the church and supplied the pulpit during the early portion of Mr. Kinghorns illness, and later the Kirk Session was fortunate in securing the services of the Rev. W. T. Wishart for a lengthened period. Although at the commencement of the following year Mr. Kinghorn was still seriously ill, yet high hopes of his ultimate recovery were entertained by the congregation. It was not Gods will that this should be, however, for on the 22nd August he passed away at the age of 51 years.
In the death of the Rev. James Kinghorn, St. Peters Church lost a beloved pastor, who ably discharged all the duties of the ministry for a period of eight years, and during that time earned the love and esteem of all classes of the community, and attracted a large congregation by his unequalled pulpit gifts. The Presbyterian Church in New South Wales, also, lost in him one of its most distinguished ministers, a man of high ideals and wide culture, a man of broad, tender and ever-ready sympathy, who gave a life of whole-souled devotion to the very dear service of his Lord and Master.
At a congregational meeting held shortly after Mr. Kinghorns death, it was unanimously resolved to erect a mural tablet to his memory in the church he loved and served so faithfully. On Sunday, the 6th July, 1913, the Unveiling of the Tablet took place in the presence of a large congregation. The service was conducted by the Rev. A. J. Wade, assisted by the Rev. A. M. Ogilvie, while the tablet was unveiled by Mr. Sutherland Sinclair, the senior elder of the church.
REV. ARTHUR JOHN WADE 19131920
As was to have been expected after the long illness and subsequent death of the Rev. James Kinghorn, a dark cloud temporarily overshadowed the fortunes of St. Peters Church. The fair hopes which their late beloved minister had aroused in the hearts of its members were rudely shattered, and there was nothing left but to bury them tenderly and with tears. But their sorrow notwithstanding, office-bearers and members alike, with resolute determination and unshaken confidence in the future of their church, banded themselves together for the advancement of the cause so dear to their hearts. True, their beloved leader had fallen, but the work of the church had still to go on.
At a meeting of the Kirk Session held in the vestry on Friday, 20th September, 1912, the Rev. J. Kemp Bruce, minister of Wahroonga, reported that he had been appointed Interim Moderator of St. Peters Church during the vacancy, and submitted the commission of the Presbytery of North Sydney to that effect. It was then agreed that a congregational meeting be called for Tuesday, 1st October, to appoint a committee for the purpose of selecting a name or names to be submitted to the congregation in connection with the vacancy in the pastorate.
The committee thus appointed proceeded to draw up two lists of names of ministers likely to be suitable, those on No. 1 list being considered as the more eligible. The process of hearing these ministers occupied a long time, but on Wednesday, 12th February, 1913, the committee decided to submit to the congregation the name of the Rev. Arthur John Wade, of Chalmers Church, Adelaide, as the choice of the committee.
It was then resolved at a congregational meeting held on 3rd March, that the Kirk Session be requested to petition the Presbytery of North Sydney to grant moderation in a call, and at the meeting which followed a unanimous call was given to the Rev. A. J. Wade, and, much to the pleasure and satisfaction of all, this call was accepted by him. The Rev. A. J. Wade had done excellent work for the cause of Presbyterianism in South Australia, and had always, by his self-denying efforts and sincere devotion, exhibited a keen interest in all those matters which affected the spiritual life of the people.
On the evening of Monday, 5th May, 1913, the Rev. A. J. Wade was duly inducted into the charge of St. Peters Church, and preached his first sermon on the following Sunday, as the recognized minister thereof, to large congregations. On Friday evening, 16th May, a welcome was tendered in the School Hall to Mr. Wade and his family, a pleasant feature of the gathering being the number of representative ministers of other denominations present to accord to Mr. Wade a most hearty welcome to North Sydney.
After such a long vacancy a great deal of leeway had to be made up, for the congregation had practically been without a pastor for eighteen months. But Mr. Wade at once entered whole-heartedly into the duties of his sacred office, and in a surprisingly short time got into such personal touch with the members and adherents of the church that the Session had every confidence in and great hopes for the future of St. Peters Church.
As fifty years had elapsed since the induction of the first minister of St. Peters Church, it was decided to celebrate the occasion by holding special services in the church on the first Sunday in December. This date having proved unsuitable, it was agreed to defer the Jubilee celebrations to the early part of the following year, and to appoint a committee to make all necessary arrangements in connection therewith. In June, 1914, the Jubilee celebrations were most successfully carried out, and the social gathering which constituted the chief function on the occasion was the means of bringing together both past and present members and adherents of the congregation.
Then the Great War broke out. and this had disastrous effects both, upon the life of the nation and the peace and prosperity of the Church in general. But if it claimed many of the young men of our congregations, it also helped those who remained at home to have a deeper sense of the meaning and responsibilities of life, and of the real strength and comfort of our Christian faith. Throughout the struggle, which lasted for over four years, the congregation of St. Peters Church, by their gifts and service, showed their sympathy with the men at the front thus realizing the sacred character of the war in which our Empire and our Allies were then engaged.
The year 1916 will always be regarded as a sad one in the history of St. Peters Church, for it suffered the loss of many of the young men of the congregation owing to their enlistment in the Australian Imperial Forces, and received the dread tidings of some who had already paid the supreme sacrifice. Among the latter was the younger son of the minister, Mr. Keith Wade, who died from wounds received while acting as a stretcher-bearer in the A.M.C. in France. He was a most active worker in the various organizations of the young people, and would have been, had he been spared, a promising candidate for the ministry.
At last, on the 11th November, 1918, the war came to an end by the signing of the Armistice, and, with hearts full of gratitude to Almighty God for His goodness, both minister and people took fresh courage as they went forward without interruption in the mission to which the Master had called them. But interruption of another kind than war had to be faced early in 1919. Owing to an outbreak of pneumonic influenza, all churches were closed by order of the Minister for Public Health, and for a considerable time the various organizations of the church were altogether suspended. The order was withdrawn a few weeks later, and a new regulation was promulgated, permitting open-air services provided that all worshippers were masked. So for a few Sundays services were held in the church grounds, and on one of these the Communion was dispensed.
The matter of placing a suitable memorial in the church for those who went to the war was considered at a meeting of the congregation, held in the church on Monday, the 17th March, 1919, when it was resolved that the scheme be proceeded with under the supervision of Mr. J. Kethel, the churchs honorary architect. Mr. Kethel recommended, in view of appearance, the construction of the Honour Roll to be carried out with oak and trachyte rather than with bronze and marble. Mr. Kethels design of the alterations to the church and of the Honour Roll was presented in the form of a sketch, and was approved by the committee.
The Rev. A. J. Wade, who had such a strenuous and trying time during the war period, followed by the influenza epidemic, had performed his duties as minister of the charge with great energy and fortitude. He had gone through the deep waters of affliction himself, and under the guiding hand of God had led his people with the utmost courage and confidence through all the dark days of the war. It was, therefore, with heartfelt sorrow that the Kirk Session learned of his serious illness, caused primarily by an accident.
This accident occurred at the time that the alterations to the church and the erection of the Honour Roll were almost completed, Mr. Wade decided, however, that the unveiling should not be delayed by his illness, and this was carried out by His Excellency Viscount Novar on the 18th April, in the presence of a very large congregation. The Rev. Professor R. G. Macintyre, O.B.E., D.D., conducted the service and preached an eloquent sermon on the occasion.
From that day Mr. Wades condition, seemed to grow worse, and eleven days later he entered into his rest amid the lamentations of his many friends in the Church.
The Rev. A. J. Wade was endowed in a special way for the work of the ministry, and seemed to have all the necessary qualities which go to make a successful minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Gifted with a charming personality, he seemed specially fitted to call up the best in all with whom he came into contact. Although dignified in his bearing on all occasions, he was, nevertheless, possessed with a fund of keen humour and this, coupled with a genial disposition, won for him a large circle of friends, even among those remotely or not at all connected with church life.
The war made a great call upon his rich store of tenderness and sympathy, and, time and again, he was called upon to undertake a mission of sadness to the homes of the men who had paid the sacrifice for freedom. How much these visits cost him cannot now be known; but we have heard from bereaved homes and hearts how much these visits were appreciated in the comfort and consolation received in a time of much sorrow.
Some time after Mr. Wades death a committee was appointed to make all arrangements for the erection of a memorial tablet in the church to their late beloved pastor. This was in due course unveiled by a member of Mr. Wades family (the Rev. A. M. Stevenson, M.C.), on Sunday, the 16th December, 1923. The Rev. Professor R. G. Macintyre, D.D., delivered on that occasion a memorable address.
REV. IVO E. BERTRAM, M.A. 19201923
With a view to filling the vacancy in the charge caused by the death of the Rev. A. J, Wade, the members of the congregation were called together on 20th May, 1920, and it was decided to appoint a selection committee consisting of the Session, the Committee of Management, Dr. J. R. M. Robertson, the Hon. Dugald Thomson M.L.C., and Mr. Henry Gourlay. The committee met and made all arrangements for the pulpit supply of the church and the hearing of candidates, several ministers being heard from the State of New South Wales and two from other States.
On the 9th September the report of the selection committee was submitted to the congregation, recommending the name of the Rev. Ivo E. Bertram, MA., of Prahran, Victoria, as a suitable minister for the charge. A petition to the Presbytery of North Sydney for moderation in a call was unanimously carried, and the Rev. Ivo E. Bertram was inducted into the pastoral charge of St. Peters Church on the 3rd November, 1920. The Rev. George Logan, B.A., Moderator of the Presbytery of North Sydney presided; the Rev. J. T. Dudley, B.A., preached from Psalm 85:6, and the Rev. A. M. Ogilvie gave the charge to the newly-inducted minister and congregation. A Welcome Social was given to Mr. Bertram by the congregation on the 8th November, of which members of the Presbytery and representatives of other Churches were present.
A beautiful memorial consisting of two stained-glass windowsthe gift of her sons and daughterwas placed in the wall of the northern transept of the church to perpetuate the memory and long connection with the congregation of Mrs. J. R. M. Robertson. The ceremony of unveiling the windows was performed by Miss Robertson at a special service held in the church towards the end of 1921, when the minister preached an appropriate sermon to a large congregation.
The year 1922 was a somewhat disappointing one in the history of the church. The attendances at the church services were not quite so large as previously, and there was a corresponding decrease in the attendance at the quarterly Communions. There was also a serious falling-off in the ordinary revenue of the congregation, although owing to the liberal response to the Special Church Appeal the total amount raised for all purposes was satisfactory.
The church also sustained heavy losses by death during this year. Prominent among these was the Hon. Dugald Thomson, who had been associated with the congregation for well over forty years, and who was for many years a member of the Committee of Management, and one of the trustees of the church and school properties. His services were of inestimable value to the State and Commonwealth, where in the latter sphere he served, as a Cabinet minister. He was a most liberal contributor, not merely to the congregational funds of St. Peters Church, but to all the various schemes of the Presbyterian Church in New South Wales, as well as to numerous charitable objects.
In 1923 the envelope system of Weekly Freewill Offering was introduced by the Committee of Management, and this had the effect of placing the church on a more satisfactory financial basis. Another matter of interest, to the church, and particularly the young people, was the construction of a Tennis Court on the church land. Much time and thought had been given to this object by the Committee and members of the congregation generally, and it was with great satisfaction that the court was opened for the enjoyment of the young people of the church.
Towards the end of the year it was with regret that the Kirk Session learned that their minister, the Rev. Ivo E. Bertram, had received a unanimous call to St. Pauls Church, Oamaru, New Zealand, and after mature consideration had accepted the same, and in due course was translated by the Presbytery. At a meeting in the School Hall on the 15th January, 1924, a Farewell Social was given to Mr. Bertram on behalf of the congregation when opportunity was taken to make a presentation to both him and his wife. Immediately after this he left for his new sphere of labour in New Zealand.
Thus within the comparatively brief period of twenty years St. Peters Church had been served by three ministers, widely different in type and outlook, but each contributing his share in the progress of the Presbyterian cause and in the social and spiritual welfare of the people in North Sydney.
REV. JOHN CALDER, M.A., E.D. 1924
After Mr. Bertrams departure trip Rev. D. P. Macdonald, minister of Mosman, was appointed by the Presbytery Interim Moderator of the charge, and at the annual congregational meeting held in the School Hall on Monday, the 10th March, 1924, a selection committee was appointed to arrange for the hearing of candidates, and to take such other measures as it might deem necessary for the filling of the vacancy in St. Peters Church.
This committee held a number of meetings, selected several ministers, and arranged for them to preach in the church. After all had been heard, a unanimous call was given to the Rev. John Calder, M.A., minister of Wagga Wagga, who accepted the same and was duly inducted on the 31st July into the pastoral charge of St. Peters Church. The Rev. D. McKay Barnet, B.A., Moderator of the Presbytery of North Sydney, presided. The Rev. W. P. Stewart, B.A., preached, and the Rev. G. R. S. Reid, M.A., addressed the newly inducted minister and congregation. On the following Thursday a Welcome Social was given to him and to Mrs. Calder in the School Hall by the members of the congregation.
Mr. Calder was born at Old Aberdeen, Scotland, and, after his Arts course at the University of Aberdeen, entered the Divinity Hall there and was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of Aberdeen in May, 1903. On the 18th February of the following year, he was ordained by the Presbytery of Edinburgh, and inducted into the Parish of St. Leonards in that city. After a ministry of eight and a half years there, he was invited by the late Professor Dr. Clouston to offer his services to the Presbyterian Church in New South Wales.
On his arrival in Sydney, in November, 1912, he was sent to re-organize the charge of Cootamundra. After a brief and successful ministry there, he received a call from St. Andrews Church, Forbes, and was inducted into the pastoral charge of that congregation a few weeks before the outbreak of the Great War. Having volunteered his services as an overseas chaplain with the A.I.F., he obtained leave of absence from the parish for the duration of the war, and sailed for England early in 1916. Having been posted to a battalion serving in France, he went through all the stern fighting with his men for the next three years, was mentioned in dispatches for gallant and distinguished services in the Field, and returned to his charge at Forbes in the beginning of 1920. Six months later he received a call from the congregation at Wagga Wagga, where he laboured with much success for four years, when he was appointed minister of St. Peters Church.
From the commencement of his ministry in North Sydney the attendances at the ordinary church services showed a marked improvement, and office-bearers and members alike began to look forward with confidence to a new era in the history of St. Peters. In the first year of Mr. Calders ministry the erection of a new shop and dwelling in connection with the School Trust property, in place of that destroyed by fire in the previous year, was brought to a successful conclusion.
In 1926 a Monthly Magazine was started as a means of helping to keep the members of the congregation in regular touch with all the churchs activities. It fulfilled the most ardent expectations of all who fathered the project, and was everywhere commended for the high literary standard of its interesting articles.
An outstanding feature of the years work was the installation of Flood Lights in front of the church the first of their kind on the northern side of the Harbour-and the erection of electric standards and lights on all the gates of the church. On the evening of the 20th November, 1926, Lady Hay, of Crows Nest House, performed the ceremony of switching on the Flood Lights, and, in a reminiscent speech, spoke of her early associations with the North Shore and of the spiritual help and comfort she had received as a worshipper in the beautiful Church of St. Peter.
In 1927 the 83rd Anniversary of the foundation of the charge was fittingly celebrated. There were large attendances at both services, a noticeable feature being the number of well-known ministers who were among the worshippers. Their Excellencies the Governor General and Lady Stonehaven and suite, were present at the morning service. The Moderator General (the Right Rev. R. Scott West, D.D.) preached in the morning, and the State Moderator (the Right Rev. D. MacKay Barnet, B.A.) presided at the evening service, the sermon, which was full of happy reminiscences of the past in St. Peters, being delivered by an old friend of the congregation, the Very Rev. John Walker, D.D., of Canberra.
The Kirk Session gratefully accepted the gift of a brass lectern with Bible from the ministers two daughtersRuve and Joy Calderto mark the 83rd Anniversary of the foundation of the charge at North Sydney; also, the gift of a brass offertory pedestal, with six plates to match, from the late Mrs. Donald Smiths family, as a memorial of her long and faithful services to St. Peters Church. A Social was held in the School Hall following on the Anniversary, when the opportunity was taken to present Mr. Calder with pulpit robes, while Mrs. Calder was also the recipient of an appropriate gift.
Heavy expenditure was occasioned at this time by renovations to the roof of the church and the spire. For some time this had been a source of great anxiety to the Committee, and the only course open to them was to strip and re-slate the whole of the roof, and strengthen the gables with bargeboards. The work was satisfactorily carried out by Maxwell Porter & Son. Ltd., at a cost of £450. The rusty galvanized iron on the spire was also replaced by special copper tiles at a cost of £200, the latter sum being generously donated by the Misses Busby, as a memorial to their mother, who had been for many years a member of the church.
During 1929 the church was further enhanced by the addition of other memorial gifts. A handsome Communion Table and three chairs to match were presented to the church by Mrs. H. W. Fell and family in remembrance of her daughter, Mrs. Old, who was for so many years closely identified with the work and worship of St. Peters Church; also, a fine marble Baptismal Font was placed in the church, the gift of the family in memory of their mother, Mrs. Doig, who in her day was such an active worker in the various organizations of the church. All these gifts were accepted by the Kirk Session on behalf of the congregation, and were dedicated to the glory of God at a special service conducted by the minister.
At this time Mr. Calders duties ware greatly increased by the well-merited honour conferred on him by the General Assembly, when it appointed him to the position of Steel Lecturer in Pastoral Theology at the Theological Hall. But his work in the congregation was carried on with the same untiring zeal and devotion as he had manifested during his ministry in North Sydney.
Then followed the dark years in the early thirties, when the congregation, had to face not only the financial, strain arising from a depression which was worldwide, but also the difficult problems peculiar to the district. At this time North Sydney underwent a complete metamorphosis. The demolition of 800 homes to make way for the massive approaches of the Harbour Bridge and the speedy service rendered by train, bus and tram-cars bringing the city and its central churches to the very door of St. Peters Church, were sufficient grounds to cause deep anxiety and concern among its office-bearers and members.
But, in spite of such manifest features for alarm and dismay, the Committee of Management faced the rapidly changing situation of the district with faith and determination, and never for a moment doubted that St. Peters had still a great and glorious future in front of it. That this expectation has been partially realized is a tribute to the faith, courage and vision of its minister, the helpfulness of the various organizations of the Church, and the continued loyalty and sustained generosity of the members.
In 1935 a new venture was launched in the form of an Annual Eisteddfod. This involved a tremendous amount of work, but the result was so encouraging that it was resolved to make it an annual function. This enterprise met with increasing success every year until the outbreak of war, when it had to be abandoned owing to the employment of so many of our young people in war activities.
In the years that followed extensive repairs and additions were effected on the church and manse buildings. A new verandah replaced the old and unsafe one in front of the manse, the roofs of the church vestries were covered with fibrolite, copper gutterings were affixed to the roofs, the floors of the vestries were covered with linoleum, and a cement path and retaining wall were made for the elimination of damp from the walls.
It was at this time that the General Assembly offered its hearty congratulations to Mr. Calder on being awarded the Efficiency Decoration for services rendered to the Australian Military Forces. When war clouds began to hang heavily over the European situation during the latter portion of 1939, Mr. Calder was acting as Chaplain to the Scottish Regiment at the Rutherford Camp, and at the termination of this appointment he was transferred to the Liverpool Camp, and carried out the duties of a Chaplain in that area until his discharge, in the latter part of 1942. On his retirement he was presented with a handsome timepiece, equipped with a set of double chimes, as a token of esteem and affection from his fellow-officers in the Liverpool Camp,
As a result of war activities during the years that followed, some of the schemes for the further improvement of the church had to be abandoned for the time being, but a recent addition to the furnishings of the church was the gift of three communion chairs (to match those already in the church) by Sister Clare Smith, in memory of her beloved husband, the late Major Donald Smith, who was for many years a much esteemed Session Clerk.
In conclusion, this brief sketch of the Mother Church of our denomination on the North Shore should be cause for both gratification and encouragement. It also lays upon us who still serve her a great responsibility. As the heirs of its rich and inspiring traditions it is our duty to prove ourselves worthy recipients, to take up and carry forward the torch which has been handed to us, and while making the necessary adaptations to changed conditions, to see to it that the essential things for which St. Peters, has always stood shall endure. As children of such a spiritual mother we shall ever be jealous of her honor, concerned about her welfare, and determined that the days to come shall be worthy of the days that have been.
The Presbyterian Church
OUR CHURCH stands for a DOCTRINE and a POLITY.
The DOCTRINE is Evangelical, and all who profess faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and lead a consistent life may become members in full communion.
The POLITY, or government, derives its name from the Greek word Presbuteros, or Elder, and is representative in character.
Each CONGREGATION has a SESSION or board of Eldersof which the Minister is Moderator or Chairmanwho are elected by the Congregation.
The financial and secular affairs of each Congregation are entrusted to a Committee of Management, the members of which are elected yearly, and of which the Elders are members Ex Officio.
The Minister and one Elder from each Congregation are members of the higher Court or Presbytery, and the Presbytery is subject to the State General Assembly, which in turn is under the jurisdiction of the General Assembly of Australia.
The system thus combines Congregational self-government with the centralization of the whole Church under one general Authority.
From the decisions of each of the inferior Courts an appeal lies to the one above it.
Presbyterianism is substantially the form of government adopted by the greater number of the Reformed Churches.
In all lands it has stood for Evangelical Doctrine; for Loyalty to Christ as the one Head of the Church; for Education, Sound Learning, Sacred Literature; and for Civil and Religious Liberty and Constitutional Government.