No. 282 - George Town - St Andrew's Uniting Church (formerly Presbyterian)

George Town is one of the oldest towns in Australia and is the second oldest town in Tasmania. It is therefore surprising to learn that some of the major denominations were only established late in the town's history. The Anglicans and Methodists had an early presence but Catholic and Presbyterian churches were only established in the 1950’s. The choice of Launceston as the administrative centre of the North in the early years of the colony meant that George Town was destined to remain a backwater until more recent times. The construction of an aluminium smelter at nearby Bell Bay in the 1950’s as well as the development of industry accelerated George Town’s population growth and contributed to the establishment of new churches.

A Presbyterian church was established in George Town in late 1950’s although the Presbyterians had a presence dating back to the 1840’s. In 1843 the Launceston Examiner reported:

“The Rev. Mr. Kenzie (Presbyterian) generally preaches once a fortnight at George Town, in a small room, which is inconveniently crowded. Could not a sufficient sum be collected, by subscription, to erect a temporary building for the accommodation of this gentleman’s hearers?”

There was no further progress made by the Presbyterians and it was the Methodists who first established a church on a small block of land near York Cove in 1887. (The Anglicans had established a church in 1832)

It was not until 1953 that the Presbyterians officially established themselves at George Town. The Examiner reported on the initial meeting that would eventually lead to the building of a Presbyterian church:

“History was made in George Town when Scots and Dutch Presbyterians met there for the first time. About 100 gathered in the George Town Hall. The Rev. C. Auldist, St Andrew’s Church, Launceston, conducted a short service and the Revs. J. Roodenberg and Kenneth MacLean gave short addresses in Dutch and Gaelic respectively… Periodical services are to be held in the George Town Hall by the Presbyterian Church”.

These early services led to the establishment of the short-lived St Andrews Presbyterian church which combined with the Methodist church in 1973 and went on to establish the George Town Uniting Church in 1977. The small weatherboard Methodist church was sold and the combined congregations opted to use the modern Presbyterian church building which still continues to serve George Town.

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Launceston Examiner, Wednesday 15 February 1843, pg. 3
Examiner, Tuesday 5 May 1953, page 8

Stansall, M. E. J and Methodist Church of Australasia Tasmanian Methodism, 1820-1975 : compiled at the time of last Meeting of Methodism prior to union. Methodist Church of Australasia, Launceston, Tas, 1975.

Presbyterian Church of Tasmania, Triple Jubilee, 1973 : record ; compiled and edited by R. S. Miller. 


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