No. 568 - Beulah - Christian Brethren Gospel Hall - 'Built in Three Days'

Beulah is a small settlement in the foothills of Mount Roland approximately 15 kilometres southeast of Sheffield. The name Beulah is taken from the Bible and means ‘my heaven and my home forever more’. Beulah once had three churches; an Anglican and a Baptist church which were built shortly after the turn of the 20th century and a Christian Brethren Gospel Hall established in the 1930’s.

The Christian Brethren (also known as the Plymouth Brethren) once had a significant presence in the greater Sheffield region with Gospel halls built at Sheffield, Kimberley, Roland, Paradise, Railton and Beulah. The Brethren place an emphasis on weekly communion, the baptism of believers by immersion, and evangelism. The Christian Brethren should not be confused with the 'Exclusive Brethren, a restrictive group which broke away in 1848. In Tasmania, most Brethren are ‘open’, unlike the 'exclusive' Brethren who avoid contact with outsiders to the religion.

As with many rural churches, Beulah’s Gospel Hall had its origins as a Sunday School. By the early 1930’s planning for building a place of worship gained momentum and by September 1935 the foundation stone for a Gospel Hall was laid. The Launceston Examiner reported:

“On Saturday afternoon between 40 and 50 persons from Sheffield and surrounding districts gathered at the site of the new Gospel Hall at Beulah. The timber, which had been previously, felled, was all removed and burnt, and by 6 p.m. the stone for the foundations was on the ground. Mr. H. J., Day thanked all those who so willingly helped…”.

The main structure of the hall was built in three days thus the opening service was held within a month of the foundation stone being laid. The Advocate reported:
"The Brethren opened the new hall, about 150 people being present, many coming from a long distance, as far as Boat Harbour, Westbury, and other districts; also a good number from Sheffield and West Kentish. Mr. McNeil of Melbourne, was the preacher. The Sheffield Brethren took the matter in hand and turned out and built the new Gospel hall in three days. It is on the junction of three roads, and will be very convenient for the people of Bull Plain, Lower Beulah, and Beulah to attend for worship. There are a number of children to attend Sunday school, and it is the intention to carry on regular meetings and Sunday school”.

The subsequent history of the Gospel hall is largely uneventful. As with the Baptist and Anglican churches, the Brethren too were effected by rural depopulation following World War Two. The date of the Hall’s closure is not known. The building has been shifted and although now the worse for wear, it is located behind a house on the Lower Beulah Road. At this stage the only image I have of the building is a screen-shot taken from Google ‘street-view’.

A Google street-view image of the former Gospel Hall (March 2010)


Sources:

Examiner, Tuesday 1 October 1935, page 5
Advocate, Monday 28 October 1935, page 6

https://www.utas.edu.au/library/companion_to_tasmanian_history/C/Christian%20Brethren.htm



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