There's so much sadness about the closure of the South Geelong Uniting Church - not the decision of the congregation - but Head Office in Melbourne sold the church from under the feet of a small group of faithful elderly men and women. They'd kept the building neat and tidy and had upgraded a steeple and it was a total shock to them a few months ago. Toyota bought the property. Even Uniting Care - the welfare network main office for Geelong - has had to go. On Sunday there was a last service and the door was closed and locked. The congregation will join us at East Geelong and we welcome these men and women and recognize their grief. I still am disengaged with the hierarchy of the church in Melbourne as we, in Geelong, had nothing to do with the gross debt accumulated so stupidly by the decision makers in Melbourne.
And of course our family and friends have protested noisily about the sale of our nearby Denman Street tennis courts by the Uniting Church head office. Our tennis courts have only a week or so to pack up once the new owner moves in to demolish the courts, clubroom and probably build units. The settlement date is in April. Our teams have found a place to relocate - at Breakwater - but without a clubroom. Meanwhile our sons and grandsons play social tennis at Denman Street every day as the summer tournament has finished.
from today's Geelong Advertiser
ELDER Albert Renshaw first attended South Geelong Uniting Church in the 1920s and on Sunday he closed its front door for the last time.
Mr Renshaw, 97, was given the honour after about 80 parishioners gathered to mark the closure of the church and offer thanksgiving for 145 years of worship within its bluestone walls.
Elders chairman Ric Killick said the service was emotional but held high purpose, marking time to move on.
Congregation members will join East Geelong Uniting Church. “We move away from what’s been 145 years of church — and it’s the only one in the South Geelong district — so that’s the end of it,” Mr Killick said.
“It’s emotional but we’ve been down the emotional path.
“All of the congregation was asked to come forward and light a candle in recognition of past ministers and past congregations and to indicate to the whole of the gathering that we were moving as a group and not as singles.”
The Uniting Church Synod of Victoria and Tasmania sold the church as part of a property disposal to ease debt linked to closure of Melbourne Acacia College last year.
The Reverend Bert Bell, who was minister at the church for many years, led Sunday’s service.
Leaders presented Mr Renshaw with a plaque acknowledging his nine decades of service to church and community and the long-time naming of the adjoining Albert Renshaw Hall, which is likely to be demolished.
Mr Killick said acknowledgments also included a salute to Darren and Clair Morrison, the last people married in the church, and their daughter Chloe, who was the last child baptised in the church.
He said congregation members had prepared for the next step. “The point about it is the emotion starts to fall away after a little while and you look to the future, that’s basically what we’re doing,” he said.