No. 1345 - Christmas Hills - Methodist Church

This article is one in a series about public buildings in country areas that were used as places of worship. In these communities churches may have been planned but were never built due to lack of finance or changing circumstances. In most settlements, before a church was built, worship was typically held in homes, schoolrooms, barns, halls and other buildings. Conversely, in some communities, churches were sometimes the first public building erected and were used as schools and community halls. The focus of this series will primarily be on the public halls and schools that were used as churches. These buildings, and the religious communities which used them, are often overlooked in published histories of churches.

Christmas Hills is a rural settlement about 10 kilometres south-west of the town of Smithton. It is believed that the area was first “discovered” by Europeans on Christmas Day. Timber felling and milling was once a major industry in the area.

The Methodist Church’s presence at Smithton dates back to 1907 and within a few years a number of churches and “preaching places” were established in the Circular Head district. There are records of churches established at Trowutta; Edith Creek; Nabageena; Mengha; Leesville, Rogerton; Allen Creek; Broadmeadows; Christmas Hills and Christmas Hills Mill.

In 1911 the Mersey District Synod of the Methodist Church granted permission for the erection of a church at Christmas Hills. However, while the Methodist community was active at Christmas Hills for over 40 years, it appears that a church was never built. The church first met at the Christmas Hills State school which opened in 1910 and later worshipped at a public hall built in 1934.

Reports of Methodist services regular appeared in the Circular Head Chronicle, The Advocate and occasionally in the Launceston Examiner. While the reports were usually brief, they do provide a brief glimpse of the church and the people associated with it. A selection of these are reproduced below:

1916: “On Sunday last harvest thanksgiving services were held by the Methodist Church at Christmas Hills. Rev. M. Vertigan preached to very fair congregations. The festival was continued on Monday evening by a social and sale of gifts….Those taking part in the social were Misses Ward, Dunn, Mrs Britton, Mrs S. Dunn, Messrs. J. Rowe, C. Ward, E. Rowe, Pardy, Revs. Sibdin and Vertigan….”.

1919: “Harvest thanksgiving services in connection with the Christmas Hills Methodist Church were conducted in the local school room…by Rev. W. Hooper. The room was nicely decorated with ferns, flowers, sheaves [of] hay, and produce, which reflected great credit on the willing decorators. Miss A. Coates presided at the organ on Sunday, and Miss Renie Dunn on the following following evening…”.

1922: “The Methodist harvest thanksgiving was held at Christmas Hills on Sunday. The service was conducted by the Rev. R. Trebilco. The hall was nicely decorated with greenery, and a good display of fruit and vegetables was in evidence. On Monday evening a concert was held. Those contributing to the evening’s harmony were Miss S. Dunn., Rev. R. Treblico, Messrs. T. Hine, S. Dunn, Johnson, Murphy, Wilson. Mr C. Wells acted as clerk for the sale or gifts…”.

1933: “The Rev. E. Barren conducted the harvest services at the Christmas Hills Methodist Church on Sunday, when there was a large attendance. Smithton people contributed to the musical programme on Monday night….”.

After 1934 Methodists worshipped at the Christmas Hills public hall which had opened in February in that year. In 1948 the hall was moved to Smithton school for ‘trade classes’. Methodist services continued to be held at the settlement well into the 1950s.

No photograph is available of the Christmas Hills School and Hall where Methodists' worshipped over a period of 40 years.


Sources:

Circular Head Chronicle, Wednesday 5 October 1910, page 2
North West Post and Emu Bay Times, Thursday 2 November 1911, page 2
North West Post and Emu Bay Times, Saturday 11 March 1916, page 2
Circular Head Chronicle, Wednesday 9 April 1919, page 5
Examiner, Thursday 30 March 1920, page 2
Circular Head Chronicle, Wednesday 7 April 1926, page 3
Circular Head Chronicle, Wednesday 8 March 1933, page 3
Examiner, Saturday 10 February 1934, page 5
Advocate, Thursday 20 February 1936, page 6
Circular Head Chronicle, Wednesday 26 July 1939, page 4
Advocate, Saturday 6 March 1948, page 6

Stansall, M. E. J. and Methodist Church of Australasia. Tasmanian Methodism, 1820-1975 / [by M.E.J. Stansall ... et al] Methodist Church of Australasia Launceston, Tas 1975





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