An Overview of St Paul’s Parish History (1924– )
- In the early 1920s, East Kew was developing rapidly. The population was growing, housing was going up and the community developing. The East Kew primary school opened in Kitchener St in 1923.
- It seemed time to establish a new Anglican parish in the area. Anglican services were first held in homes as a branch of St Hillary’s Parish. Through 1923 regular services were then held at the East Kew Citizen’s Hall in Normanby Rd.
- A site for the new Parish Church was chosen - the corner of Hale St & Windella Ave (then called Belfour Road) and a Vicar appointed.
- In April 1924 the first Vicar was inducted and the Parish can be said to have been established.
At the beginning the Parish needed buildings and in the first two years an amazing amount was achieved.
- 1925 the attractive Parish Hall/Church was built
St Paul's Parish Hall
- 1926 a Vicarage and tennis court (next door) were built.
St Paul's Vicarage
- 1926 a 2nd smaller weather-board Hall was opened - for social activities and Sunday School/Kindergarten. It was a gift of Mr G.J.Coles, a parishioner. (The hall still stands and is known as the ‘Coles Hall’.)
- Partly through lack of finances, no more building took place until after WW2 when there was new interest in building a new Church.
- Efforts and planning continued for over 14 years until the late 1950’s when finances, designs and agreements were in place and finally the building went up.
- On February 12th 1961 the Service of Dedication was conducted. The new Church featured: a very modern design for the time, the narthex linked Church to hall, interesting stained glass and stones from Canterbury Cathedral and St Paul’s Cathedral (London).
- In March 1961 the new Memorial Garden was blessed.
Active Early Years
- The early years were exciting and busy times. The congregation was growing. The Sunday School was bursting at the seams with 150 children to be accommodated each week.
- This flourish of activity meant that within two years the parish had a Ladies Guild, Church Girls (GFS) and boys (CEBS) groups, Scouts & Cubs, a Tennis club, Glee Club and Drama Club.
Up and Down Years
- Having borrowed to finance its buildings the Parish was carrying a considerable debt in its early decades. On top of this, the cost of sewerage, fencing and road construction in 1928-9 (remember this was a new housing area) was a heavy burden.
- 1930s depression brought two additional challenges. Many parishioners had less income (which meant lower giving). And the Church wanted to respond to the greater demands on it to assist those who were unemployed, losing their homes, or simply running low on hope. The Ladies guild set up a sewing business (with seven machines) to make money.
- The depression was then followed by WW2 and for 6 years many men and women were absent on war service – and the whole community was war-oriented, especially for raising money. Much work fell to the women and young people of the parish. Throughout this time the Parish struggled with attendances and to keep it’s mortgage and finances in shape.
- It was hoped and expected that after WW2 there would be a resurgence of Church involvement but this was limited.
- For the new 50 years St Paul’s has continued to face and meet challenges and enjoy successes and high times.
- eg. the opening of the new Church, the Golden Jubilee (50 yrs) in 1975, a Broadcast of Worship on the ABC, the new pipe organ in 1977, outreach to our local schools, continuing worship, groups for care and faith, baptisms and confirmations, one large and many smaller bequests, regular giving, fundraising and social activities.
Changes and Developments over the years
- In the 1930’s the Parish appointed an ‘Envelope Collector’ and he was allowed commission on all envelopes collected, at a rate of 10% or even 20%! (While this was not an uncommon practise then this fellow was actually unemployed and this was a way of helping him and the Parish.)
- In the 1930’s the Parish ran a ‘Queen Carnival’ to raise funds.
- Scouts and Cubs, Drama and Tennis used to feature at St Paul’s but eventually they cut the tie. The Church has been less and less involved in the community as needs were met (often better) by Council or other community groups. What is the Church’s ‘niche’?
- From the late 1940’s many social attitudes were changing. Accommodating this, St Paul’s decided to allow it’s young people to play tennis on Sundays (between 2-5pm) and to hold their dances in the Church/Hall.
- Women had been allowed on Synod since 1924 and in the 1950’s (in Melbourne) women could serve on a parish Vestry.
- From the 1950’s Churches were being designed to enable a more intimate gathering and to emphasize the Church as community of people with ‘God in the midst’. Churches were less ‘bus like’ with seating curving around circular or square shaped buildings. ‘High and distant’ pulpits and altars were ‘lowered’ and brought forward. St Paul’s ‘radical’ design exemplified these new ideas and many visited the Parish to have a look at the new church.
- From the 1950’s, and since the 1970’s especially, a number of significant changes have taken place across all Churches in the way Services were presented and these changes were reflected at St Paul’s:
- *‘Lay’ people took on roles traditionally reserved for the Clergy.
eg. in the 1950’s 3 Lay Readers were appointed at St Paul’s.
in the 1980’s lay people began to assist with the distribution of Holy Communion were appointed.
- New Worship resources were developed. eg. new Hymn/Song Books, the Anglican Church in Australia introduced new Prayer Books in the mid 1970’s and again in the mid 1990’s.
- The Anglican Church in Australia ordained women from the mid 1990’s. St Paul’s had an assistant women priest from 1997 -1999.
- The 1960’s saw a major increase in Ecumenical activities. The East Kew Inter-church Council was formed in 1966. Local churches working together have offered RE at Kew East Primary and supporting Kew High School’s Chaplaincy position.
St Paul’s in the 1950s
While many things change some things seem not to!
- Envelope Giving has been around in the Parish since the 1930’s.
- Stewardship campaigns (with varying success) have been run regularly / periodically over the decades. The most successful and memorable - because it opened the way for the new Church to be financed - was the Wells Campaign in 1956-7.
- In the 1930’s concern was expressed that the Parish was too reliant on fund-raising and people were encouraged to just give more!
- In 1930 parish visiting and care came up for discussion and it was decided to establish a team of 20 lay ‘District Visitors’. The need continued and various responses were tired over the years.
- The Parish expressed concern in 1931 that Sydney’s Harbour Bridge was to be opened ‘during the most Holy Week of the year’. How the Church makes claims within the wider (secular) society is still a concern. (When will Football be played on Good Friday?)
- The parish has often wondered how to best accommodate children and young people at Sunday Church. In the 1940’s it was decided that the main service at 10am should be the ‘Young St Paul’s Service’ (replacing the old type of Sunday School). In 1979 it was agreed that older children would remain in church for the whole service and that suitable music would be provided.
- From time to time the Parish has taken a particular interest in Missions and Evangelism. In the 1950’s the parish had ‘their own Missionary’ (in Pakistan 1955-57). The 1959 Billy Graham crusade touched many people. In the late 1980’s especially the Parish was encouraged to renew its work for the Mission of ABM.
This brief telling of the St Paul’s story leads to the present day challenge of continuing going forward in our time—uncertain for us all and difficult for the Church. The St Paul’s Parish story will continue to be created as parishioners discern their path and go on with hope & love.
In preparing these pages I have relied heavily on St Paul’s Parish history, by Frank F. Elliot Caring, Sharing, Achieving (St Paul’s 1996).
Rev David Moore (Priest of St Paul’s Parish)