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THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA.  

A TWENTY YEARS' RETROSPECT.

Many who are familiar with the part the Presbyterian Church is taking with other forces at work in this colony for the pro-

motion of ends common to all churches will hardly realise that it is barely twenty years since the metropolis of the colony was first visited by a representative of this historic communion with the object of planting a church here. It may not be un- interesting at the close of the second de- cade of the church's existence to give a bird's-eye view of the conditions under which operations were initiated, and of the development that has taken place since ground was first broken.

ARRIVAL OF REV. DAVID SHEARER.

The colony, which was founded in the year 1829 by a Scotchman, and whose capital bears the name of one of Scotland's fair cities, had but recently celebrated its jubilee of 50 years when on the 2nd October, 1870, the Rev. David Shearer, bearing a joint commission from the Established and Free Churches of Scotland, arrived at Fre- mantle with his wife and family in the barque Charlotte Padbury. His mission was to establish a church in Perth and, as far as practicable, to visit scattered mem-   bers of the fold. At that time, according  

to the latest census returns, the number of Presbyterians in the whole colony was only 529, by far the greater portion of them being located in the southern part. The population of the colony was 30,013, the railway between Fremantle and Guildford had not even been constructed, communica- tion between scattered settlements was almost limited to hired conveyances, and   the circumstances of the colony generally were backward. Without entering into detail about the early struggles of this hardy and hopeful pioneer at a time when the departures from the colony were actually exceeding the arrivals, and when there was but little to encourage the ex- pectation that a congregation would for years be formed, it may be mentioned that   before three years had passed, St. Andrew's Church, Pier-street, was opened for public worship. Though at first provided with sittings to accommodate 320 adults, the seat-holders during the first quarter did not exceed 30, the number of sittings alloted to them being 120. These figures illustrate the strength, or rather the weak- ness of the first congregation as recently as 17 years ago. By the end of 1883, how- ever, the entire cost of the Church, in- cluding the amount paid as purchase money for the site, was raised, and Mr. Shearer, whose effectiveness as

organiser had by this time been fully proved, was able to give some of his atten- tion to other portions of the colony.

EARLY PROSPECTING.

Northam and Newcastle were at first re- garded as suitable fields for occupation, and the Rev. J. V. McNair, whilst on his way to New South Wales, visited the colony in 1885, to report thereon. After an experiment of several months, during which services were conducted on alternate Sundays in the two places, operations in the Eastern districts were temporarily suspended, and, on the joint recommenda- tion of Mr. Shearer and Mr. McNair, Fre- mantle was adopted as a base. To establish a church at Fremantle the Rev. R. Hanlin was specially commissioned by the Free Church of Scotland in May, 1886. The new mission was not, however, started until October of that year. In 1888, Mr. Hanlin was able to report that 60 persons over 18 years of age had connected themselves with his congregation, but it was not until he had been persistently and patiently toiling for four years that Scots Church in South-terrace was ready for occupation. Early in 1889 the Home Mission committee of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria was induced by" Mr. Shearer to give atten- tion to Albany, and here work was inaugu- rated by the. Rev. P. J. Murdoch, the present Moderator of the general assembly. Though by counsel and periodical visita- tions, Mr. Shearer was able to show much interest in this undertaking, he did not live to witness the completion of the church. His much lamented death oc- curred on the 13th of November, 1891, and in March, 1892, Scots Church, in York street, was opened for public worship.

FORMATION OF A PRESBYTERY.  

On the occasion of the induction of the Rev. David Ross on the 7th of December, 1892, as Minister of St. Andrew's, Perth, in succession to Mr. Shearer, a presbytery, comprising the congregations of Perth, Fremantle, and Albany, was constituted by the Rev. James Gibson, of West Mel- bourne, specially commissioned for this purpose by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria. At this period the population of the colony had not reached 50,000. The first sphere to re- ceive the new presbytery's attention was Geraldton, and by March, 1894, St. John's Church in Charles-street, was opened for regular services.

CHURCH EXTENSION ON THE GOLDFIELDS.

In August of the same year the Rev. John MacNeil, specially employed by the Home Mission Committee in Victoria to re-

ports on the prospects of work on the recently-discovered goldfields, visited and held services at Southern Cross, Coolgardie, Kalgoorlie, White Feather, Kurnalpi, Broad Arrow, and other places. On Mr. MacNeil's recommendation, work at Cool- gardie was, early in 1895, undertaken by the Rev. J. A. Burns, of Buninyong, Vic- toria, as the committee's representative. In response to an appeal for financial assistance, the Free Church of Scotland which where necessary had consistently supported previous undertakings-pro-   vided the requisite funds wherewith to start a mission at Kalgoorlie, and by July of the same year operations were com- menced. In both of these townships suit- able places of worship were elected by the people, and at the first presby- tery meeting held on the goldfields Mr. Burns was inducted as minister of Scots Church, Coolgardie, on Good Friday, the 3rd April, 1896. As minister of St. Andrew's, Kalgoorlie, the Rev. Finlay McQueen, formerly of Kyabram, Victoria, was inducted on the 29th February, 1897. Work has also been carried on at the Boulder, Kanowna, Southern Cross and Menzies. In connection with St. George's, Boulder, a well-equipped congregation has been formed; the Rev. Stanley S. Reid being settled as the first minister on the 15th March last, and Menzies is now en- joying the services of the Rev, Angus King, who arrived from Scotland only last month. Through lay help, with occasional   ministerial visits, Southern Cross has,   during the past 18 months, received a supply of ordinances. Recently, however,   arrangements have been made for a more definite supply.

GENERAL OPERATIONS.

Whilst much concern has been shown by the Presbytery for the goldfields, it has not been unmindful of its obligations to places less remote from the capital. Northam, where the Rev. A. Sangster was ordained and inducted as first minister of St. Paul's on the 6th April, 1898, was the first to receive attention. Home mission operations, undertaken by the congrega- tions of Perth and Fremantle within their respective bounds, have, up to the present, resulted in the establishment of no less than five separate charges and of a preaching station at Bibra Lake, in the Jandakot agricultural area. As minister of St. Columba's, Cottesloe-an off-shoot of Scots Church, Fremantle-the Rev. A. McCarlie was ordained and inducted on the 31st August; 1898, and the ordination and in- duction of the Rev. A. H. Moore at West Perth took place a week later. On the 15th February last the Rev. D. B. Smith was installed as minister of the East Fre- mantle congregation. Leederville and Subiaco are at present jointly under the oversight of the Rev. J. B. Reid, an ex- perienced minister from Victoria.

HELP FROM ABROAD.

In the expansion of the church's influ- ence, valuable financial assistance has been received not only from the Free Church of Scotland and the Presbyterian Church of Victoria, as already mentioned, but also

from the established Church of Scotland  

and the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. The Presbytery, it will be seen, has en- listed the sympathy of older churches, and used judiciously the means at its disposal for providing ordinances in convenient localities to meet the requirements of a population which has increased by 120,000 since its formation. The growth of the church is not claimed to have been either sensational or startling. It has, however, been steady, and the young presbytery has every reason to rejoice at the progress so far made.    

CELEBRATION SCHEME.

By way of marking this interesting stage of the church's history, it has been re- solved, in view of pressing needs yet to be provided for, to afford all Presbyterians throughout the colony an opportunity of contributing according to their means a single coin for each year of the church's existence. Funds raised in this way as a thank offering will be applied to the special objects of the presbytery, and, un- less otherwise allocated by individual donors, will be divided equally between church extension, the Scotch College, and the general sustentation fund. Comme- moration service are to be held in all the congregations to-morrow, at which enve- lopes capable of holding 20 coins of any value, so as to suit the circumstances of almost every person connected with this church, will be received during divine ser-

vice.

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