History of the Kyabram Presbyterian Church

Prebyterian worship recommenced in Kyabram on the 3rd Novemeber 1985 in the RSL Hall Unitt Street.

Some 70 people came together to worship God on that first Sunday in November 1985. What a day of great rejoicing and encouragement.

Photos of the congregation soon after recommencement of services.

From the beginning it was clear for all to see that Jesus Christ was building this congregation by drawing people together, by providing the necessary gifts and resources to enable worship to recommence. This had been going on for some years without anyone realising what God’s plan was.

God’s provision for our congregation didn’t stop there. Soon after commencing we became part of the Shepparton Stanhope Presbyterian Parish with the Rev. Ken Brown becoming our Minister.

God’s people were very keen to assist us. We had a monetary gift from the Cobram congregation and the gift of an organ from the Ashburton congregation.

Soon after God provided yet again for our needs with the donation of a pulpit and hymn board which are still in use today. The Albury Congregation donated the communion equipment and the Orange Lodge donated the pulpit cloth and offering plates.

In August 1991 a meeting was held with the Uniting Church Property Realisation Committee. During that meeting it was revealed that a questionnaire amongst their members had revealed that 96% were in favour of selling or leasing St David’s to the Kyabram Presbyterian Church. This showed that the people in the Uniting Church were concerned that St David’s should continue to be used for the worship of God even when there were greater financial gains to be made by selling the church to a private developer. We give thanks to God for their priorities. The Uniting Churches priorities were revealed again in the way that they made it possible to purchase St David’s.

In September 1991 a Congregation meeting decided to attempt to purchase St David’s and an adjoining allotment. At this stage we did not believe it was possible to purchase the church and believed that leasing the church was the only viable alternative.

In March 1992 we were advised that the Uniting Church Synod had approved the sale of the Church. With only $11,000 in the bank we began to wonder if it was going to be possible. However God made adequate provision for the purchase of St David’s by providing a further $80,000 through donations, grants and loans.

The Uniting Church agreed to a final purchase price of $90,000 in November 1992. God’s provision was again exactly what was required to enable the purchase to proceed.

In February 1993 worship services recommenced in St David’s. On the 8th October 1993 the sale of the church was finalised.

One of the greatest blessings that we have had and still enjoy today is the faithful preaching and caring ministry of our ministers. Firstly the Rev Ken Brown and then the Rev. John Sutherland and now the Rev Kyung Ee.

On the 6 Novemebre 2005 we celebrated the centenary of “St David’s” Many people who had an association with the church in the past came and joined with the congregation gaving thanks to God for his many blessings over many years.

God continues to bless this congregation and we look forward to seeing him bless the faithful preaching that he has provided in our Parish over many 30 years.

As the hymn writer says “To God be the glory great things he has done.”

In 2012 the Board of Management saw the need for an extension to the church buildings to include toilets and a kitchen. In 2016 the BIF allocated funds to both Shepparton and Kyabram to undertake their building projects. Tenders were called but unfortunately, they came in well above the amount of funds available to carry out the project.

Through God’s providence, the setbacks proved to be a blessing because as time passed, the interest on the grant monies grew and by June 2018 there was sufficient funds to carry out both projects.

What we thought was impossible at various stages, was not all, because God had it all under control.

The extension was opened in 2019 and is
enjoyed by all. It is our prayer that God will use us and our church to bring glory to himself.

Church building extension.

The Early History of St David’s Presbyterian Church Kyabram

The Reverend W Thomson of Mooroopna started Presbyterian services in the Kyabram district in 1877 and continued until 1884.

Services started in the Taripta School and then later in the home of Mr D.S. Menzies.

During this time the work grew to 8 congregations.

1 acre of land was donated by the late Mr E Atkins, father of Mrs J Attwood for the site of the church.

In 1885 a new Presbyterian church was built in Kyabram. It was of timber construction and served the congregation well until the current church was built.

The Rev Rob Vance was the minister of the charge between 1901 and 1908. At that time the charge consisted of the Kyabram and Tongala churches and the school house at Kyabram South (now known as the Cooma School.)

On the 20th October 1905 there was a congregational meeting held to determine whether to proceed with the building of a new church.

On the 27th October 1905 tenders were invited to remove the old church.

On December 8th 1905 the tender was awarded to Church of England. The timber church continued to be used for worship services by the Church of England.

The architects for the church were Messrs Campbell and Kernot.

The cost of the project including architects fees was $1500.

9 tenders were received for the building of the church and Mr A Miles of Tatura was the successful tenderer with a price of $1386.

On a very hot day on the 23rd January 1906, with temperatures well over a hundred, a large crowd of people gathered to witness the laying of the foundation stone by Mr James Finlay of a new brick church in Kyabram.

At the time it was recorded that “The building has two entrance doors and a bell tower in which no doubt, at some future time, a bell will be seen to advantage, but at the present time and since its inception there has been a void.”

A Sunday School was afterwards built on the west side of the church and both buildings were quite free of debt when opened.

During the building of the church worship services were held in the Mechanics Institute. Charges for the hire of the building were 30 cents for morning services and 50 cents for evening services.

The new church was opened by the Rev. Finlay McQueen on Wednesday the 6th May 2006.

An indication of life in the church is seen in the following extracts from a “Back to Kyabram” souvenir publication in the 1950’s:

“Rev Vance preached earnest and impressive sermons, and in the matter of prayer excelled, his beautiful sentiments and earnest petitions won all the hearts and created a feeling of reverence.”

“At an annual meeting in 1904, it was decided that the Sunday Schools of Tongala and Kyabram would support a native teacher working under the Rev G Fleming, Port Vato, Ambrim, New Hebrides.”

“Mrs Vance, the minister’s wife was an organist and was president of the PWMU.”

“On Nov 3rd 1905 there was an annual Presbyterian Sunday School picnic held at the Lake Reserve.”

Some observations comparing then and now.

God blessed his people then and he continues to bless his people today, blessed be the name of our God.

God was praised and worshipped then and he continues to be praised and worshipped today.

The history of the building does not mean much of itself but it is what has happened inside the walls of the church that count. Has the word of God been faithfully preached in the church during those 100 years? Have people come to know the Lord within those walls? Have people’s lives been changed for the better? Have people grown in faith, knowledge and obedience as a result of the preaching of God’s word and the blessings of God? Has God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit been worshipped faithfully during those 100 years? I believe the answer is yes to all of those questions and therefore the church serves and continues to serve that purpose.

There was a period of rapid growth when worship services started with the number of congregations rapidly increasing. Oh for days like that again. Let us continue in our prayers that we should see such growth again in our time.

Imagine a “back to” document today reflecting on the preaching and praying gifts of ministers. Obviously what is considered important today is vastly different to that which was important when the “back to” publication was produced!

People were very committed in that the building of the church and Sunday School was accomplished debt free.

There were the not the administrative barriers then that we experience today. Can you imagine how long it would take from the moment the congregation decided to build a new church to the moment the church was opened today?

Then it took 7 months. Today it would take a lot longer because first you would have to get plans drawn up and approved by the Church Architect and the Presbytery and then you would have to get planning approval and building approval for the removal of the church and the construction of a new church. Then there would be the tender process and the problem of getting the builder to start.

I would estimate that it would take between 1 and 2 years to go through this process. Have we really made progress today?

Did you notice that some things haven’t changed? The PWMU is still in existence today. The minister’s wife is still expected to play many roles in the life of the church. Sunday Schools still support missionaries. We still have morning and evening services (although the evening services are only held once a month).

When we recommenced worship services in Kyabram they were held in the RSL Hall, the former school (which one of our former members, who passed away this year, attended.) The hire of the RSL Hall was $10 per week.

The Presbyterian Church in 1923.
The Presbyterian Church in the 1950’s.