A Brief History of the
BROOME UNITING CHURCH
Download a pdf copy of our Broome Church History Pamplet
The Uniting Church in Anne St. is one of Broome’s oldest properties and classified by the National Trust. It has been part of Broome since the great pearling days at the beginning of last century.
The story began in 1897 when Oliver Hogue, just returned from the north, reported to the shocked W.A. Presbyterian Church, that appalling neglect and degradation were the accepted way of life in the north.
The Presbyterian Moderator, the Rev. J.C. Fordyce, offered himself to establish work in Broome, the world’s richest pearling grounds and known as ‘the worst town in Australia’.
In 1910 he arrived, acquired the land in Anne St. and erected the manse at the cost of 600 pounds. Worship was held in the original building on the wide latticed verandahs, and was called the Verandah Church. The office, lounge and dining area were also located on the verandah.
Today the verandahs are built in and air-conditioners have been added to some rooms. This building was used as a manse until 2008 and is now used for the Op Shop, Sunday School and other activities.
The Inlander Magazine in 1916 reported:
“The hearty response of the residents has resulted in the erection of a manse thoroughly adapted to work and climate. In fact the manse was built at the very outset, for the people were willing to face the liberality gladly to house their minister. Recently they cleared away all debt.”
An early picture of the manse.
The side verandah of the manse.
Photos courtesy The Inlander 1915 and Battye Library, A. Richardson collection, 28044P
The church was built in 1925 and designed in the Broome style. It is square with open verandahs on three sides. The side walls roll back on tracks to allow the breeze to blow across, but it can be sealed up safely in the cyclone season.
From 1934 to 1942 Broome was.staffed by Australian Inland Mission welfare officers. During the War, Broome was bombed by the Japanese and the evacuation of citizens included the A.I.M. welfare officer. Ministry was not resumed until 1947 and even then only on a limited basis when the A.I.M. Patrol Padre appointed to the Kimberley visited the town.
This situation continued until 1962 when the Presbyterians and Methodists divided the Kimberley into. two zones, east and west. The Methodists took the west and appointed the Rev. Dean Tietzel and his wife Gwen to the Methodist Inland Mission West Kimberley Patrol based in Broome. The patrol covered Broome, Derby, Cockatoo Is., Koolan Is., stations from Anna Plains to Cape Leveque and as far east as Fitzroy Crossing.
In 1971 the Methodists, Presbyterians and Congregational Churches in the north of Australia combined to form the United Church of North Australia (U.C.N.A.) The church in Broome was then called the Broome United Church.
Six years later the Methodists, Presbyterians and Congregational Churches throughout Australia joined in union and formed The Uniting Church in Australia. The Kimberley Presbytery was formed as part of the Northern Synod rather than the WA Synod. This led to a another change, though minor, to the name of the church when it became the Broome Uniting Church.
In 1983 an office and residence was built in Herbert St. for the newly appointed Kimberley Regional Coordinator who ministered to the Broome congregation until settlement in 1985. Since then the focus of ministry has been on the growing town. The manse and church building were classified by the National Trust in 1983 and major renovations to the manse were carried out in 1989. During 2010 plans are being made to move the old manse closer to the church and restore it and renovate it to fit ministry in the 21st century.
As well as a place of worship, over the years the church has been used as a youth centre, a day centre and an opportunity shop. Today the character and charm of these old buildings, set in their park like surroundings, is appreciated by the locals and also the many tourists who come to worship during the dry season.
Broome Uniting Church
One of the outstanding ministers sent to Broome was the Rev. Frank Rolland, later Sir Francis Rolland, who arrived in 1911. As part of his ministry Frank lived for a time on the foreshore among the non-European section of the community. For transport around town he rode a camel which was won in a lottery and presented to him as a gift. He used to organize a six week social and sporting program for the ‘lay up’ period during the wet season and had a congregation of 70 worshipping at the Verandah Church.
The old manse was renamed Rolland House in 2008.
In 1913 the Rev. Fred Brady and his wife Mary, began the first part of their ministry (1913-1917). Even during the 1914–18 War when the pearling industry fell on hard times the Church Board of Management consisted of 14 men and they had 200 pounds in hand to build a church. In 1916 a group from the Presbyterian Aborigines Mission at Kunmunya on the north Kimberley coast attended worship in Broome and the Aboriginal boys from there sang as a group in church.
The Bradys returned to Broome in 1925. The Broome minister was to be the agent for the Kunmunya Mission. He was also to patrol the Kimberley Region during the dry season which involved an area of 86,000 square miles.
One of Fred Brady’s first missions on his return was to undertake a journey of 1,700 miles when he took A.I.M. nursing sisters McDonagh and Streatfield to Halls Creek from Derby and returned sisters Cousins and Bennet to Wyndham. Fred had a very unreliable T Model Ford. A contemporary article of the time says, ‘There are no roads, as such, in the Kimberley’. As a result of this arduous journey he succumbed to an attack of malaria and died very soon after his return to Broome. Despite this tragic event his wife Mary Brady continued the ministry in Broome.
If you look carefully in the Broome cemetery you will still find Brady’s grave. He was buried in the Anglican section despite the fact that he was a Presbyterian.
There is a brass plaque in the church in his memory and the building was later known, for a time, as the United Church Centre Brady Memorial.
Board of Management Broome Presbyterian Church 1920
Photo courtesy Battye Library 4323B/64
The financial statement for 1916-1917 shows that the building cost £835/7/4 and a loan from Capt. Lee was repaid.
MINISTERS WHO HAVE SERVED IN BROOME
1910-1911 Rev J.C. Fordyce Presbyterian
1911-1912 Rev F.W. Rolland Presbyterian
1912-1913 Rev A.S. Houston Presbyterian/A.I.M.
1913-1917 Rev F.G.H.Brady Presbyterian/A.I.M.
1917-1919 Rev A.J. Eipper Presbyterian/A.I.M.
1920-1922 Rev S.R.W. Richardson Presbyterian/A.I.M.
1925 Rev F.G.H.Brady Presbyterian/A.I.M
1925-1926 Mrs M. Brady Presbyterian/A.I.M
1926-1928 Rev G.L. Johnson Presbyterian/A.I.M
1928-1931 Rev P. Sommerville Presbyterian/A.I.M
1931-1934 Rev D.Dow Presbyterian/A.I.M
1934-1937 Mr J. McKenzie A.I.M. Welfare Officer
1937-1940 Mr W.R. McLeish A.I.M. Welfare Officer
1940-1942 Mr A.W. Rodgers A.I.M. Welfare Officer
1942-1962 There was no resident minister in Broome.
From 1947 the A.I.M.Patrol Padre for the Kimberley visited.
1962-1966 Rev D. Tietzel Methodist Inland Mission
1966-1970 Rev A.T. Foote Methodist Inland Mission
1970-1975 Rev D. Brookes Methodist Inland Mission
1975-1979 Rev B. Philpot U.C.N.A. then Uniting
1979-1981 Rev P. Moore Uniting
1983-1985 Rev N.Vawser Uniting
(Kimberley Regional Co-ordinator)
1985-1987 Pastor D. Hanger Uniting
1989-1991 Rev B. Gallacher Uniting
1994- 2000 Rev G. Gill Uniting
2002-2004 Rev N. Perera Uniting
2008- 2010 Rev D. Lovell Uniting
2014- 2017 Rev C. and Rev H. Paine Uniting