“Living and telling the good news of Jesus Christ, reaching out to all in love and service.”
About Our Story
These articles are brief snippets of history, a light-hearted look at people and events in the earlier life of the parish of St Peter’s, Gympie. While it’s a light-hearted look, the facts in each article are as accurate as possible. Most of them have been drawn from contemporary accounts of the time. At the heart of all these articles is an appreciation of the faith, the lives and the efforts of earlier Christians in this place.
If you have more and better information about any of these people and events, we would be delighted to hear from you, and delighted to correct any inadvertent errors. Please contact the Church Office if you would like to discuss any of these articles.
In February 1868 Gympie people calling themselves Church of England got a bit of stick from the Nashville Times, Gympie and Mary Valley Mining Gazette, precursor of the Gympie Times. The paper thought them a slack lot, lagging behind the other denominations in either having a building of their own to use, or having a paid clergyman to meet parishioners’ needs. The Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, Jews, Chinese, Wesleyans and Independents all had action in hand or at least temporary church buildings. The Roman Catholic Church had feisty red-headed Father Horan on the goldfields in March 1868, and one of the non-conformist denominations had built “Bethel”, a building which most other denominations were also using for services. In March the Church of England people called a meeting to see what could be done to erect their own building.
By December 1868 the building was almost completed on the site later confirmed by the survey of 1869 by government surveyor Clarendon Stuart, near the current site of the Central State School. With the building almost complete tenders were called to provide seating. Late in December they advertised services to be taken by George Faircloth Esq P. M. Mr Faircloth was not perhaps the most popular man about town. As the Police Magistrate in Maryborough he had been rigorous in enforcing whatever rule of law could be established on a rambunctious goldfield. Faircloth took services in a building lent by the Presbyterians on the One Mile Road, until the church was opened. In January 1869, the church was complete. Prayers were led by Faircloth.
Meantime the current site of St Peter’s was about to become a large hole in the ground, the site of the Lady Mary mine, one of the richest gold producers on the field. When the cap over the main shaft collapsed some twenty years ago, the wide, timbered hardwood steps down to the drive shafts were still intact. The site was close to the corner of the church near the Lady Chapel, and the underground extent of the mining explains exactly why we see the cracks and gaps around in the ceiling in St Peter’s today. Strange to think that underneath where we sit in the church, all those years ago, men beavered away in the dark deep underground, hacking gold out of the quartz and hard greenstone rock.