No. 879 - Moonah Baptist Church (1908-2002) - "Celebrating the Baby"

Moonah is a suburb of Greater Hobart and is located approximately 5 kilometres north of the central business district. Moonah was previously known as South Glenorchy before it was developed as a residential area in the late 19th century.

The Moonah Baptist church, which was located at 187 Main Road, no longer exists. In 2004 it was demolished to make way for a commercial development. The church was opened in 1907 as a mission of the Hobart Baptist Tabernacle. The proceeds of the sale of the old Baptist chapel in Harrington Street [see no 631] was used to fund the establishment of the new Moonah church.

In December 1906, the extension of the Baptists to Moonah began with the establishment of a committee comprising Dr. Harry Benjafield, J.T. Soundy, F.W. Heritage (Church Treasurer) and David Williams (Church Secretary).

The foundation stone for a new church was ceremonially laid on Saturday 1 February 1908 with the event recorded by the Hobart Mercury:

“In an interval between the showers, the foundation-stone of the Baptist Church which is to be erected at Moonah was well and truly laid on Saturday afternoon. The site which has been chosen for the new edifice is situated on the right-hand side of the main road to Glenorchy. It belonged previously to Mr. C. J. Ball, from whom it was purchased on generous terms. The design for the new church was prepared by Mr. K. Bennett. The contractor is Mr. D. Williams. …About fifty persons were present at the ceremony of laying the foundation stone, and these included some who have long been prominently associated with the Baptist denomination in Tasmania. The proceedings were opened with the singing of a hymn, and prayer was offered. The Rev. F. W. Boreham, of the Hobart Tabernacle, made a statement with reference to the new church. From time to time, he said, they had lamented at their church meetings in Hobart that they had no stations outside the city; and consequently when Mr. Heritage, so to speak, discovered Moonah, the suggestion to build a church there was readily taken up….Mr. Boreham then presented Mr. J. T. Soundy with a trowel and mallet with which to lay the foundation-stone. The stone was lowered into position, and when it had been adjusted Mr. Soundy declared it "well and truly laid.”

The building was completed within the space of 5 months. The church’s opening in June was headlined in the Mercury as “Celebrating the Baby” as the Hobart Baptists had entirely financed and furnished what they called their daughter church. The first service was held on Sunday 7 June and the church was formally dedicated at an evening service on the following day. The Mercury’s report on first service provides some details about the building and its furnishings:

“Nothing could have been more completely successful than the opening functions of the new church at Moonah, ….under the ministry of the Rev. F. W. Boreham, has evidenced its pride in and affection for its new daughter at Moonah. The building is of ample proportions, 65ft by 30ft, and having a seating capacity for 200 persons. The walls are of brick, the roof of iron, and stained glass is used in the front windows. The reading desk and rails are of carved blackwood, and were made and presented by Mr Moile. Mr Foreman gave a communion table and chairs. Mr Calway gave the collection plates. Mrs Soundy and other ladies gave the platform carpet….Mr Bennett gave the carpet for the aisle, and Mr Oldham the hymn books. Mr Carrick gave the notice board. Indeed all the furniture has been presented by different members of the Hobart church. There are two vestries at the rear of the building, and a porch in front. The builder was Mr D. Williams, and the architect Mr T. Bennett, who prepared the plans gratuitously. The cost of the building was over £600. The Hobart church bought the site, which has a frontage of 150ft and a depth of 75ft, at a cost £140….”

The Mercury also recorded the dedication service held on the following day:

“On the Monday, afternoon the church was well filled, and a solemn dedicatory service was conducted by the Revs. C. Palmer, and F. W. Boreham, Mr Palmer preaching the sermon. The relationship between the churches at Hobart and Moonah were, he said, those of mother and daughter. But as wise parents aimed at rendering their children resourceful, independent, self reliant, so the Hobart church - would pursue a policy towards that at Moonah by which they trusted that the Moonah church would soon be independent of extraneous assistance, and be able to run alone. He announced that efforts were being made to secure a fully equipped and . recognised minister to take charge of the new cause under the supervision of the central church, but that until the minister appeared arrangements had been happily completed with Mr Raymond Farrer, a student of the Victorian Baptist College, to conduct the services”.

The church was extended and a new facade was added in the 1960s. Unfortunately the church did not make its centenary and the building was demolished soon after its closure and eventual sale in 2003. The demolition of the building literally unearthed a part of the church’s history. In December 2005, the Heritage Tasmania’s newsletter records:

“The demolition of Moonah Baptist Church on main road Moonah has uncovered a missing piece of history for the Baptist Church in Tasmania. Thirty church community members gathered to open a glass jar time capsule that was discovered in the foundation of the Moonah Church when it was demolished earlier this year. The capsule contained an order of service for the laying of the foundation stone, a copy of the Mercury dated 1 February 1908, two pennies dated 1902 and 1862, plus a copy of the Baptist Papers The Daydawn and the Baptist Church Messenger, both dated January 1908. The time capsule will be placed in the Baptist Union Holdings housed in the University of Tasmania’s archives”.


                    
The Moonah Baptist Church (1911). The Tasmanian Mail

Padre Salter standing beside the roll of honour he has placed in the Moonah Baptist Church. The two new side panels, which record the names of parishioners who fell in the Second World War, have been added to the centre panel, which is for the First World War. (The Mercury 30 April 1946)


Sources:

Mercury, Monday 3 February 1908, page 6
Mercury, Monday 8 June 1908, page 5
Mercury, Tuesday 9 June 1908, page 4
Mercury, Tuesday 9 June 1908, page 5
Daily Telegraph, Friday 12 June 1908, page 6
Mercury, Monday 12 June 1933, page 2
Mercury, Tuesday 30 April 1946, page 6

Heritage Tasmania, Tasmanian Heritage Council newsletter, December 2005 




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