Tarnagulla Uniting Church,
Formerly the Presbyterian Church.

Written by Donald W. Clark.
Taken from "Tarnagulla - A History" which he compiled in 1985.

Uniting Church

The Uniting Church, Tarnagulla, March 2000.

The Rev. Dr. James Nish of St Andrew's Kirk, Sandhurst (Bendigo) was the first Presbyterian minister to hold services on the Sandy Creek goldfields. He preached wherever a building was available, and if necessary, in the open air. In July 1862 the Rev. J. Steele was sent by the Castlemaine Presbytery to ascertain if a minister might be stationed in Tarnagulla. Following this visit the Rev. Hamilton was appointed to the Tarnagulla, Janevale and Eddington charge. He quickly gathered the support of a willing band of workers and it was decided to erect a brick church on Crown Land set aside for that purpose. Tenders were called for the erection of a brick church at Tarnagulla and also Eddington at the same time. The estimated cost of the church at Tarnagulla was 650 pounds. Davis & Trevascus were the successful tenderers with a tender of 490 pounds without finding the bricks.

Rev. Hamilton was inducted into the Presbytery of Tarnagulla and Eddington, on Wednesday, March l0th, 1863. The foundation stone of the new church was laid by George Thomson on the 23rd December, 1863, using an ivory handled, solid silver trowel made by Mr C. White, at the cost of about 7 pounds. This trowel is displayed in a case on the wall of the church to this day. Green & Gibson made and supplied the bricks, 25,550 being delivered. The type of brick supplied were; splay 1000, bevel 260, half circle 812, feather edge 700, and plain red 22,778.

The new Church was opened on Sunday, June 19th, 1864; three services were held; Rev. A. Robertson of Castlemaine preached at the morning and evening services and Rev. Hamilton in the afternoon.

On the opening of the Church, a Sabbath School was organised by Mr D. Thomson, who was to remain the Superintendent for many years.

The total cost of the Church was 1360 pounds, but with the building now complete, troubles began. With the slump of gold mining, between the alluvial and quartz periods, in the latter part of 1864 the population dropped considerably, resulting in a large falling off of the congregation. Rev. Hamilton left in 1866 and was succeeded by Rev. Adams, but the church was only open on occasions.

Rev. J. S. Chambers took over in 1871 and left in December 1873. He was followed by Edward Tennent, at which time the church appeared to be in a sound position. However, another slump in mining around the late 1870's caused the church to close again and to be revived as a Mission Station in 1882, under Mr Brandrick. A stronger congregation in 1887 enabled the appointment of Mr McLellan as Home Missionary.

An organ was purchased in 1884, and the grounds were fenced with the proceeds of a "Monster Bazaar"

In 1900 Mr McLellan was ordained to the full status of the Ministry. He left in 1905, when the charge was very strong, embracing Tarnagulla, Woodstock-on-Loddon and Laanecoorie. Rev. J. A. Rodger took over and remained until 1909, to be followed by Rev. H. L. Blacke, and later on the Rev. Souter was ordained.

The Laanecoorie Church was closed, and the building was transported to Tarnagulla by Mr Donald Calder with his traction engine. It was officially opened as the Sunday School Hall on June 21st, 1926.

Rev. John Priestly was stationed at Tarnagulla as a student Missionary in 1931. He left in 1935 and the charge reverted to a Mission station. In 1938 Newbridge Church closed and Woodstock joined the Eaglehawk charge. Tarnagulla joined the Dunolly charge in 1939, and eventually the Methodist Church closed and the Charge became the Uniting Church and has continued as such since 1975.