More Archives & Heritage
OPEN HOUSE, OPEN CHURCH
The Church of St Andrew is a prominent landmark in Canberra, situated on State Circle, directly opposite Parliament House. It was built as the National Presbyterian Cathedral Church and was opened in 1934. “In 1927 the General Assembly of Australia appointed the Very Rev. Dr. John Walker as the first Minister of Canberra and commissioned him to establish with nationwide Presbyterian support a National Presbyterian Cathedral Church which was opened in 1934 by the then Governor-General Sir Isaac Isaacs.
It is known as the “Church at the heart of the nation, with the nation at its heart”.
Both the beautiful neo-gothic sandstone church and the adjoining Georgian brick Manse, known as St Andrew’s House are heritage listed and are now open to the public for weekly guided tours.
The first “Open House, Open Church” welcome was held during Canberra’s annual Heritage Festival in April 2016, when visitors took guided tours of the Church and visited the opening of the ‘Living Stones’ exhibition in St Andrew’s House.
This Exhibition highlights the history of the Church and the lives of some of the Church’s pioneers who were also instrumental in the development of Canberra. The Archives and Heritage Committee of St Andrew’s decided to honour these early settlers in the region by establishing a permanent exhibition with a focus on their role in the development of our Capital City. For over eighty years the Church has had members from all walks of life, including Governors-General, Prime Ministers, judges, public servants , teachers, scientists, market gardeners, tradesmen, shopkeepers and their families.
The ‘Living Stones’ exhibition was made possible when the Church was awarded a grant from the ACT Government under the ACT Heritage Grants program. The project was completed in April 2016. In conjunction with the establishment of the ‘Living Stones’ exhibition, a team of twenty two Church members were trained to conduct an outreach program of informative tours of the church and the exhibition.
Visitors hear the messages of the beautiful stained glass windows, listen to the organ, the choir, the voices from the windows and examine the stories of the pioneer families of the church. See the spare preaching robe of the Very Rev. John Flynn founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
Following the success of the open days during the Heritage Festival, ‘Open House, Open Church’ tours are now held regularly on Wednesday mornings, and visitors to Canberra are invited to contact the church for details. These tours are an opportunity to discuss key aspects of our Christian faith. They are of particular interest to those who wish to learn something of the history of the Presbyterian Church and development of Canberra and those concerned with architecture, design and stained glass windows.
Students studying Society, Culture and Religious Studies would gain much from visiting the church , phone (02) 6295 3457 to arrange a conducted tour.
Next time you visit Canberra, make sure you visit the Church of St Andrew where you will find a warm welcome and a celebration of faithful lives as “Living Stones”.