The Church


From notes compiled by Mr Sydney K Storrie.

Appointments relating to Sassafras Methodist Church

From Monbulk Home Mission Station:

1902  Mr. and Mrs.  D. Stones
1905  R. W. Dean
1906  J. P. Schussler
1909  E. Eastman
1910  J. M. Amos
1911  E. Hargraves
1912  P. H. James
1913  H. Henderson
1915  J. E. Wills
1916  G. Brown
1920  W. C. H. Brenton
1922  F. H. Gay

From Belgrave Home Mission Station:

1923 Student
1925 J. B. Longthorn
1927 W. C. H. Brenton
1928 Advanced to Circuit Status

From Belgrave Circuit:

1928 A. M. Rush

1929 C. K. Daws
1931 A. W. R. Milligan
1935 A. C. Bequest
1940 E. Griffin
1941 0. W. Furness
1944 R. C. McLean
1947 K. McKenzie
1950 R. A. Owen
1956 1. A. Blake
1962 N. H. Mapperson

About 1895, the late James Griffith (of tea fame), whose residence, “Ferndale,” was on the west slope of the foothills, built a hall in Sassafras on Crown land, and stocked it with books for the use of the settlers’ families. This hall we now know as the Mechanics Institute Hall, and one of the conditions of this gift was that any religious body was to have the use of it, rent free, for services and associated functions. At this time a few families of the Plymouth Brethren sect, of which my parents were members, opened a Sunday School for their children. At the turn of the century, with some of the families having returned to Melbourne because of an improve­ment in the employment situation, the remaining families became concerned about the lack of religious training for their children, and approached the Home Mission Department to form a church at Sassafras.

Mrs. Green gave the original block of land in The Crescent (on which site the Rev. Dr. Sir Irving Benson now has his home), and interested men collected materials and erected a building, which is the front portion of the present Church. The Church was opened on October 18th, 1902, by Mrs. D. Stones, who lived in the Monbulk parsonage, headquarters of the newly-formed Monbulk Home Mission Station. The Church remained in The Crescent until the period of the First World War, when the present site was purchased and the building transferred. Mrs. Grace Lanyon was the first organist, and my father, James Storrie, the first Sunday School Superintendent.

With the 1914-18 War I found myself serving overseas, and upon my return in 1920 I took up the threads again by building for myself on a part of my father’s property. Gradually I took office in the Church, becoming a Trustee and Sunday School Superintendent.

During my absence, a lot of the old families had moved away, and others left during the early twenties, until finally the attendances fell off so much that services were discontinued. However, the Sunday School was kept going under the direction of the Sunday School Union of Victoria. This state of affairs continued for a year or so until the late Rev. John Williams came to the district, and after a short time asked me if I would assist him to re-open the services, to which I gladly agreed. After the services were resumed, Mr. Williams was instrumental in negotiating for the Belgrave Circuit, to be formed from the two centres, and the late Sister Gallagher was appointed Senior Circuit Steward and myself Junior Steward.

The Circuit prospered under the new arrangement, and in 1932 it was decided to have the transept added to this church. I was instructed to prepare plans and do the work, with the extensions being opened to celebrate the Centenary of Methodism in Victoria in 1934. The minister at the time of these extensions was the Rev. A. W. Milligan, who, having been a joiner before entering ihe ministry, was responsible for the furniture and the Communion rail. After the 1939-45 war many families with young children came to live in the district, and the need for additional facilities was recognised. The Misses Glanville had bought for the Church two adjoining blocks of land, and it was decided that a Sunday School Hall should be built on one of these blocks The majority of this work was done by working bee, and after some eighteen months the hall was opened on October 24th, 1954, by Miss Zoe Glanville. The Trust later bought the two blocks adjacent to the Parish boundary when they came on the market, and thus has retained an ideal area for our Church property.

Many people have come and gone during the seventy years of the existence of this “house that is set on a hill,” and now that we older ones have to lay down the reins, it is good to see many of the descendants taking their part in the task of carrying on, and so perpetuating the vision of those few who initiated this Church seventy years ago this week
(written in 1972)

Additional notes.

The Ross family bought the Sassafras Methodist Church building after the formation of the Uniting Church. At this time the Methodist congregation joined with the Kennon Memorial (Presbyterian) Church congregation at Ferny Creek.

The Methodist Sunday School hall was moved across the road to become the Sassafras Community Hall to replace the Mechanics Institute, burned down in 1972.

An open letter to the residents of Sassafras.