The Congregational, Methodist and Presbyterian churches joined together in June 1977 to form the Uniting Church in Australia.
Wesley Church (2004 extension at left) 62 Victoria Street - photo 2008
Methodists conducted services in private homes in the 1870’s in the Warragul area as well as worshipping in the Protestant Church built in 1875 at Buln Buln.
In 1878 a Circuit of the Wesleyan Church in the district was formed. Services were held in homes at Warragul, Buln Buln, Drouin West, Drouin, Longwarry, Neerim, and at Poowong. As the membership grew, services were held in a small building previously occupied by the State School and located near the lane at the back of the old E.S. & A Bank in Queen Street, Warragul (presumably the lane beside the present office of Dunn, Strachan and Hardie). Mr James Copeland, the first Circuit Steward, offered an acre of land with a 200 foot frontage in Albert Street (near the Arts Centre carpark).
Subsequently the site of the first Methodist Church was changed to a block offered by Mr W.D. Garside at the corner of Albert Street fronting on to Brandy Creek Road. It was decided that the church should be built on this site and an exchange was negotiated for half the block originally donated by Mr Copeland.
Building commenced on the Victoria Street site, just to the south of where Wesley Church now stands. The first church was opened on Sunday August 7, 1881. In 1886 the house and land adjoining the church were purchased at a cost of 500 pounds.
In 1890 overcrowding occurred in the Sunday School and the Drouin West Church was purchased and moved to Warragul. The original Warragul church was moved to the rear of the new church and the Drouin West building joined on at the rear.
In 1952 moves over many years for a new Sunday School became a reality when a new Sunday School was opened on May 10. All these buildings were still in use following the inception of the Uniting Church 1977.
In 1996 it was agreed to move all church activities to the St.Andrew’s (previously Presbyterian) Church site on the opposite corner.
The sale of all of the Wesley (Methodist) property was finalised early 2004.
The first concert to be held in the newly renovated and extended (and renamed) Wesley of Warragul, was on Friday 13 May 2005 - Opera Pops, presented by the West Gippsland Chorale.
St Andrew's Church (1934) and Hall (1962), corner Victoria & Albert Streets - photo 2001
With the new Warragul township becoming established, there was a continuing movement away from Brandy Creek. Some Warragul Presbyterians worshipped at Lardner and there is a record of a service having been held in the home of Peter Miller near Darnum prior to 1882.
In December 1883 the Rev J E Armour held his first service in the old Athenaeum building in Queen Street. This was the beginning of regular worship as a Presbyterian denomination, most of their members living in the vicinity having previously attended the Methodist Church. In 1887 the congregation transferred its place of worship from the Athenaeum to the Masonic Hall in Victoria Street.
The first Sunday School hall was built in 1904 alongside the church. On March 13, 1954 the new Sunday School which was also used as a day Kindergarten was opened. In 1977, a block alongside the hall facing Victoria Street, was purchased to enlarge the Kindergarten play area as this had always been considered too small. The Church was able to purchase the block next door to the old hall, making it possible to build the St Andrew’s Hall and Sunday School. On May 12, 1962 the new hall was opened.
When the St Andrew’s property was sold, the congregation was able to continue meeting at this site, while the new Worship and Mission Centre (church) was being built at 210 Sutton Street, Warragul.
The final worship service at St Andrew's was held on Sunday 18 June 2006.
The congregation celebrated their first service of worship in the Sutton Street building the following Sunday, 25 June 2006.
and Presbyterian notes and (greyscale) photos from
Whilst there was no established Congregational Church in the Warragul district, in 1886 Pastor Daniel Gunson had come uninvited into the pioneering communities of the Tambo Valley.
was a 39-year-old bushman, farmer, and expert horseman, who had decided some
years earlier to give his life to the preaching of the Gospel. He was
to establish Congregational churches and preaching places at Bruthen,
Johnsonville, Upper Tambo, Nicholson and Mossiface. He became the
first resident pastor of these people.
Eleven years later, when leaving the area, it was said of him “You found this people without a pastor and without a building sanctified to God’s use, but by your earnest effort… the fields have been ploughed, the good grain sown, and a goodly harvest reaped as the results of your labours”.
There were also Congregational churches in Beaconsfield and Upper Beaconsfield.
This information came from John Gunson the grandson of Pastor Daniel Gunson.