St Martin’s Bexley North?
There has been much anticipation at Bexley North about what could be in the locked safe. The key has been missing as long as anyone can remember. Earlier this year, with the help of 6 blokes, we managed to move the safe from the side storage room. It was rusting away and taking up valuable storage space.
Naturally, we expected the safe to be full of gold! Once the lock smith had drilled out the lock we found we were half right. The safe was full. But not of gold. It contained many of the missing records that we had hoped to find there. To some of us, this is gold in its own special way.
Apart from the missing registers of services, baptisms and weddings there was also a collection of photos and notes from the early days of the church along with more mundane notes of many meetings over the years.
For those with an interest in history and our past (I hope most people!) I have summarised some of the interesting information that has been locked away.
As recently as 1938 the Bexley and Bexley North areas were considered rural communities by many closer to the city. One early resident wrote in response:
" I was looking for a home in 1938 and spoke to a friend about the new housing development in Bexley North. ‘So you want to take up pig farming or poultry farming? And that is all that you will find over there’. A visit to the ‘farm lands’ of Bexley North revealed an Estate Agent, a General Store, a Butcher and a Saw Mill-Box Factory". So there!
The Anglican churches in the St George area were built over many years. St Peter’s – Cooks River in 1835, St Paul’s Kogarah in 1869 and our own Christ Church Bexley in 1886. As the population grew so did the development of this area. Bexley North Public School (for Boys) started in 1924 and the Bardwell Infants School in 1943. To reach the growing population Archbishop Howard Mowll launched the ‘More Churches for Greater Sydney Campaign’. Holy Trinity Bexley North was built as a part of this initiative.
On August the 12th 1943 a meeting of local families made financial promises to support the building of a new Bexley North church. The Archbishop agreed in late 1943 and it was planned to be a part of the new Provisional Parish of Kingsgrove-Bexley North. The foundation stone for the Bexley North building was laid on the 5th of February in 1944. The Archbishop proposed the name ‘St Martin’ for the church but the residents successfully persuaded him to name the church ‘Holy Trinity’.
The opening service at Holy Trinity Bexley North was conducted by the Archbishop on the 1st of July 1944. There were 240 people present for the 3pm opening service. One attendee described the weather that day as ‘rather dull and cold’. Despite the weather that weekend, regular services began the next day with 40 adults in attendance. Sunday attendances were to continue in the 15 to 40 people range for many years to come. The first week of the church’s life was a ‘mission’ week led by Rev. H.M Arrowsmith who was also the General Secretary of CMS. Like the opening Sunday, the mission week was marred by poor weather and frequent torrential rain.
Holy Trinity Bexley North underwent many physical changes over the following years. At the 25th Anniversary service in 1969 the people were reminded that ‘the church is people’ not the building. Many of these people would have remembered the construction of the hall in 1952 for Sunday School use, the remodelling of the church vestry and the re-orientation of the church internally in 1960, and the purchase of the first rectory in 1958.
In February 2014 it will be 70 years since the foundation of Holy Trinity Bexley North. It will also be 10 years since the re-planting of Holy Trinity as a part of the St George North Anglican Church. Many things have change and many more things have remained the same but please join me in thanking God for the people who have faithfully proclaimed Jesus into this community over these 70 years.
Browse some of the photos from our past (below).