No. 311 - Mowbray Uniting (Methodist) Church - History in a Parking Lot

The Mowbray Uniting church cuts a lonely figure placed on the edge of a large parking lot adjoining a supermarket. I imagine that many of the shoppers passing by do not realise that the building is a church; the only clues being a single gothic window bisected by a cement slab and an unobtrusive sign announcing it as a parish centre.

The church was built over 60 years ago on land that had been purchased in 1928. The Great Depression and the Second World War delayed its construction for over 20 years. It was built to house a Sunday school and hall with the intention of building a full church on the site at a future date.

The foundation stone was laid on Sunday 22 June 1952 using the same trowel and gavel which was used at the laying of the foundation stone of the Invermay Methodist church in 1891. The building comprised of a main hall with a capacity to seat 130 people and a kindergarten schoolroom.

The building has another interesting and substantial historical connection with the Lefroy Methodist church which was built at the height of the gold rush in the late 19th century. This was described by The Examiner in its report on the church’s opening in February 1953:

“The old Lefroy Methodist Church is perpetuated in a new brick church to be opened today at Mowbray Heights. The new church, to be known as the Mowbray Heights Methodist Church and Sunday School, has been built in nine months at a cost of about £4000. Much of the material in it came from the old Lefroy Methodist Church. The church was erected by the firm of W. W. Purse and Sons with volunteer aid and is situated in Invermay Rd”.

In the 1960’s extensions were made to church but the dream for a ‘proper’ church on the site never materialised. The building is still used as a parish centre as part of the Launceston North Uniting Church. In 2015 the building was renovated and is currently used by two church groups; the Matu Christian Group and the Tasmania Myanmar (Burmese) Church.

While extensions to the church have rendered it a nondescript building, it nevertheless has an important part in the history of Methodism in Launceston’s northern suburbs and beyond.


Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018 ©

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018 ©

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018 ©

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018 ©

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018 ©

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018 ©

Sources:


The Mercury,  Saturday 21 June 1952, page 6
The Examiner,  Monday 23 June 1952,  page 5
The Examiner,  Monday 16 February 1953,  page 6

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.

Northern News, Monthly Newsletter of Launceston North Uniting. December/January 2015/16 - Volume 2 No.12 

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