Sunday, 23 March 2008


If you’re prone to belief in the supernatural, there’s no shortage of venues to express your belief in the company of the like-minded.

Places of worship in Postcode 2205 are a pretty good microcosm of looking at the way multicultural change has taken place in the past 100+ years....

...from traditional churches re-inventing themselves, to the reuse of churches by alternate faiths or branches, to newly built structures….from the western Roman Catholic church to Eastern Orthodoxy, varieties of Islam and the newer breed of holy rollin’ Pentacostalism, you can pick your poison. Want to public denounce homosexuality? Get along to the Community Life Centre, where at various times you can also partake in a halal sausage sizzle (reaching out to Islamic neighbours…) (It probably also helps to go along with the belief that the church founder’s daughter was resurrected from the dead)

Like your Christianity mainstream non-conformist Protestant, mixed with social concern? The Uniting Church may be for you.

St Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church has recently become part of the Rockdale parish…..wonder if they’re bucking the trend of the rest of the Roman Catholic Chrurch in Australia and seeing healthy numbers?

St David’s, is still part of the Anglican fold, but now styles itself a “Cross-Culture Bible Church. . . a church for people from all backgrounds, cultures and ages….a Bible-believing church that wants everyone to hear of God’s great love shown in Jesus Christ .” (That would be in contrast to all the non Bible-believing churches, I suppose).

Roman Catholicism, Bible-believing Anglicanism, Uniting sincerity or resurrection within the founding family not your thing? Then you might want to look at Eastern Orthodoxy via the Pope (Shenoudah III that is) blessed St Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral (and theological college).

Perhaps you’ve been swept up in the new Pentacostalism Hillsong-style. Pastor Brian Houston of Hillsong fame is a dedicated "church planter" and cites one of the success as the Assembles of God “planted church” , the Bay City Church.

If none of that is your cup of tea, we can offer a Lebanese Shi’a mosque, the Masjid Fatima Al Zahra, or the Masjid Darul Imaan – Islamic Malay Australia Association mosque.

Sorry, as yet, not Buddhist, Hindu ,Shinto, Taoist or Jewish options.

According to 2001 Census figures, the religious affinity of the population of Arncliffe/Wolli Creek was (percentage & total):

Islamic 22.9 (2 086 people)
Catholic 22.3 (2 036)
Orthodox 19.2 (1 582)
Anglican 12.8 (867)
Uniting 2.4 (221)
Buddhist 1.6 (150)
Presbyterian 1.6 (142)
Hindu 1.1 (99)
Salvation Army 0.9 (78)
Baptist 0.6 (58)
No religion 7.8 (715)
Inadequate or not stated 7.8 (715)

Subsequent posts look at each religious building in turn.

St David's Anglican Church

The original St David's Anglican Church is in Hirst St, on part of the land granted in 1833 to convict overseer Reuben Hannam by Governor Bourke, as a reward for developing the sandstock brick much used in early colonial building.

Reuben’s son David made the land available to the Church of England from his father’s estate and a small primitive chapel was erected on the site sometime prior to 1861.

In 1875, the Rev Stanley Howard, Rector of the Parish of St Peter’s Cooks River visited the church and left this description:

“We rode for about a mile and a half to Arncliffe Church, which was certainly a remarkable edifice. The vestry is an old clothes horse done up with canvass and white wash. Ove the (prayer) desk is a hole in the ceiling from which frequently appears a large green tree snake, hanging down over the preacher’s head. On the walls are tacked pieces of bent tin supporting ‘patty pan’ to hold the candles. Very old-looking table and a few clean benches complete the ecclesiastical furniture of this Cathedral Church!” (Rathbone p 58)

The new church (seen above) was built in 1879, and served for the next thirty years. The following description appeard in the Town and Country Journal if 27 August 1892:

“It has not much pretension to architectural beauty but is not unpicturesue and what there is of architecture is of an early English character. The weather stained shingle roof gives a good bit of rich brown grey and the primitive belfry is, in its way, not uncomely.” (Rathbone p. 58)The brick nave of the present building, an example of the style known as ‘Commissioners’ Gothic’ was erected about 1879 by Samuel Jeeves, a local builder, the project receiving considerable support from Mrs David Hannam. It was named St David’s in memory of her husband who had died in September 1872. The transept, entrance porch and chancel were added by Samuel Jeeves in the early 1890s.The original cedar seats and the lectern were removed in 1915 to furnish the new Anglican Church on Forest Road."

Old St David's Church has, since 1974, been the home of the St George Potters.

“In March 1906, a larger more prominent location in Forest Road was obtained….the foundation stone of the new church was laid by Archbishop J.C. Wright in January 1910, and work was proceeding to erest the walls when, on July 18, Sydney was hot by hurricane force winds which caused widespread damage. …blew out the back wall of the partly completed St David’s, resulting in a protracted court case for damages which delayed completion of the first stage of the church until January 1915.” (Rathbone p. 99)

n June 1919, St David’s became a separate parochial district (it had previously been part of Bexley Parish), and in 1920 it became a full parish. Professor Leslie Wilkinson of Sydney University was engaged to modify the original plans and preparations were made to finish the building. In 1934 it was completed, and opened by the Governor of NSW, Sir Philip Game, on St David's Day, 1 March 1934. (Rathbone p. 139)

Nowadays St David's, still an Anglican church, styles itself a “Cross-Culture Bible Church. . . a church for people from all backgrounds, cultures and ages….a Bible-believing church that wants everyone to hear of God’s great love shown in Jesus Christ .”

St David's website.

St Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church

The first Catholic church in Arncliffe was opened on 3 Dec 1911. It was a brick structure capable of sitting 400 people, used as a school during the week and a church on Sundays.

This church was built at the height of the Great Depression. Other land owned by the church was sold. The architect was Clement Clancy. It incorporated a distinctive 107 feet high round Celtic tower. Estimated cost was 14 000 pounds. The external brickwork is particularly fine, as is the internal fittings of Cudegong and Kaloolah marble and polished silky oak.

Merged with Rockdale Parish on 1st January, 2003.

St Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral

70 Wollongong Rd
This was previously a Methodist Church.

“Primitive Methodist services had been held in a small building in Arncliffe St since 1875. They were organised by a local resident, John Walker, an enthusiastic lay preacher, who later became a fulltime Salvation Army officer. Sunday School classes were conducted nearby in the home of Henry Nelson, but in 1880, these were transferred to the Municipal Council Chambers. The same year land was acquired in Wollongong Rd and a weatherboard structure erected on it.

“It was used from about 1882, but soon proved inadequate, and in 1894, a larger hall was completed facing Station St, In 1905 the original building was demolished and the current one with its imposing fa├žade was erected in its place. It was opened in October 1907 and served the Methodist community for the next seventy years. " (Rathbone p 87)

In January 1882 a chamber organ was ordered from Hill & Son (job no. 1810) by William Angus, a well known amateur organist, of the Sydney carriage and coach building firm, Angus & Son, then in Castlereagh Street, Sydney. The organ was aquired by Arncliffe Methodist Church in 1940 and in 1979 it was moved to St John's Lutheran Church, Wollongong.

In 1977, the Methodist Church of Australasia, the Presbyterian Church of Australia and the Congregational Union formed a union to become the Uniting Church of Australia. Many church properties became surplus to requirements, which is what happened to this Methodist Church.

It changed ownership, and on 8 May 1980, His Holiness the Pontiff, Pope Abba Shenouda III, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St Mark and the Coptic Church Worldwide, laid the foundation stone of St Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral.

Arncliffe Uniting Church

Arncliffe Uniting Church
29 Hannam St

The Uniting Church was born on June 22 1977 as a union of three churches: the Congregational Union of Australia, the Methodist Church of Australasia and the Presbyterian Church of Australia. The Uniting Church is the third largest Christian denomination in Australia.

Arncliffe Uniting Church has a unique feature, opened in 1998, the Garden of Hope and Remembrance — a place where missing persons can be remembered and where family and friends of missing persons can lay flowers for their loved ones.
There used to be Congregational, Presbyterian and Baptist Churches in Arncliffe as well. None of those exist any more. This is the last surviving non-conformist protestant churches.

Arncliffe Community Life Centre

Formerly the The Body of Christ Mission Centre

From their website :

"The church was founded by Pastor Elizabeth Brookshaw in 1982, just after her daughter was miraculously raised from the dead. From this incident, her whole family surrendered their whole lives to God and committed themselves to true repentance. From here, her whole family started to gather together to pray and worship God. This home fellowship continued to grow into a church that was known by the name of The Body of Christ Mission Centre and was blessed with a 2700 square metre property in Arncliffe, Sydney.In November 2003, the senior leadership of the church was handed over to her son and daughter-in-law; Ben & Cisca Irawan, leading a new generation church with a Godly influence. In November 2004, the church formally changed its name to Life Centre. "

The congregants appear to be mainly Indonesian, and there are weekly services held in Indonesian.

What they believe:

A taster:

“We firmly stand against and denounce homosexuality, adultery, sexual perversion, same-sex marriages, pornography, gambling, drug use & partaking of intoxicants, physical abuse, satanism, or divination in any form.”

If all that makes your head hurt, you can have it read, utilising the services of their own psychological service - HUM Psychology (Headz Up Ministeries) - see here.

One of the buildings is an old Federation style house, address 19 Dowling St.

Al Zahra Mosque - Masjid Fatima Al Zahrah

Established in the 1980's, is mainly the centre of religious activities of Shi'ite Muslims originating from southern Lebanon.

Masjid Darul Imaan

Cnr Princes Hwy and Eden St. This is a re-use of an older church building. I am nit sure which, so if anyone knows I'd love you to let me know.

Islamic Malay Australian Association (IMAAN) is an Islamic Community group representing the Malay Muslim community and wider Muslim community in Sydney, Australia.

Bay City Church

This church, in an industrial area near the Princes Highway is a utilitarian office-looking building. It started 1 Sep 2004, as a result of successful "church planting".

Website: :
"Bay City Church pioneered by Andrew and Maryanne Harper and planted out of Liverpool CLC. Andrew is a great example of a strategic church planter and is already seeing over 100 people in attendance. We are particularly interested in using the experiences of these new church planters to assist Districts and churches as they strategise towards planting churches. "

Church planting:

Charismatic Hillsong-variety pentacostalist outfit. Wonder if they wear tartan and sway along Bay City Rollers style?

Apostolic Christian Church (Nazarene)

Station St.
I don't know who they are, or what the original building was, but it looks to me like a non-conformist Protestant one - Congregational, Methodist, Baptist or Presbyterian.