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Churches – Presbyterian

In April 1903 a meeting at David McCall’s home in Copeland Road East it was decided to hold weekly Presbyterian services in Beecroft and the first service was held on 5 April 1903. This was held in Ravenhurst (Mrs Ogden’s) School Hall located behind the store on the southern corner of Mary Street and Beecroft Road. The first elders were David McCall and James Forsyth.[1] In 1904 the Sunday school commenced with 17 children enrolled.

In 1905 the church relocated to the School of Arts and in 1907 called its first Minister, John Alexander Rainy Brotchie a Scot from Kintore who had arrived in 1883, 2 years after his ordination. At the first quarterly communion in 1907 there were 20 communicants.

The present Mary Street site was purchased in 1903 but the present building (designed by William Nixon) was not commenced until 1908. [2] Prior to the building being finished the Rev Brotchie died suddenly at the age of 59 years and so the Session determined to call the building “The Brotchie Memorial Church.” The foundation stone was laid by Mrs Lily Chorley who said
that she and her husband ‘had always been supporters of all church movements in the district and would ever be so, so long as they lived there.”[3]

In 1908 a new Minister was called to the parish. He was Archibald MacFarlane Ogilvie who was born in Scotland and had migrated to Australia for health reasons. Rev Ogilvie was active in the community and was a member of the Literary and Debating Society and President of the Music Club. He undertook the very sad duty of informing family members of the death of sons during the Great War.

Music was an important part of church life. An anthem was especially composed for the opening of the church in 1909, Mrs Chorley commenced as church organist and a musical Esther was performed by the choir in that same year.

By 1909 the number of communicants had grown to 37 and attendees to 83. The growth of the congregation allowed it to increase the size of the stipend in 1911 as well as pay off the cost of the building and the purchase of a new organ. In 1917 the building of a hall in Wellham Street (now a pre-school) commenced with a view to accommodating the burgeoning youth work.
This hall opened in 1918.



[1] Beecroft
Cheltenham History Group Beecroft and
Cheltenham: the shaping of a Sydney community to 1914
(privately published,
Beecroft, 1995) p 228

[2] Beecroft
Cheltenham History Group Beecroft and
Cheltenham: the shaping of a Sydney community to 1914
(privately published,
Beecroft, 1995) p 230

[3] Beecroft
Cheltenham History Group Beecroft and
Cheltenham: the shaping of a Sydney community to 1914
(privately published,
Beecroft, 1995) p 230