Wardell Uniting Church.
Wardell Uniting Church. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Final bell tolls for church

A MUCH-LOVED, historic church at Wardell will close its doors this month, after serving the community for 107 years.

With only seven members of the congregation left, the decision to close the Wardell Uniting Church has been a "long time coming".

But it has still been difficult for those who still attend regularly.

Bill and Ruth Partridge lived in Wardell when they married 49 years ago and have been going to services ever since, even though they moved to Wollongbar a decade ago.

"For 10 years we have been driving past the church at Wollongbar to come to services here," Mr Partridge said.

"We wanted to keep this little old church alive. But that is becoming harder and harder."

One of the main problems is that with only a handful of people in the pews, it is difficult for the church to attract a preacher for the bi-monthly services.

John Harrison said that if someone was away or sick, the numbers were so small that preachers were "reluctant" to make the trip.

Mr Partridge agreed, saying it was sometimes "embarrassing".

Another contributing factor is the congregation of the Wardell Uniting Church is getting older.

Lorna Dorey is 92 years old, and has been in and out of hospital recently.

"I haven't been able to get to church much lately," she said.

"We just can't manage to keep the church going any more, particularly at our age."

Ivy Carter has been coming to the church since 1955 and remembers the days when the pews were packed with church-goers.

She also said the Sunday school classes were popular.

But Mrs Partridge is realistic about the reasons why the Wardell Uniting Church has to close.

"People are busy," she said.

"Families don't have time for church any more; they're taking the kids to sport, or they're doing the washing or the shopping."

To honour the church's place in the village's history, a service of closure will be held on February 19 from 2pm.

Anyone interested can come along on the day. Phone Mrs Partridge on 6628 5751 or Marie Harrison on 6683 4967.

CHURCH HISTORY

After several public meetings, the church was opened on January 16, 1905 as the Wardell Methodist Church.

G B Black from Maclean was the original preacher.

Land was given by Mr and Mrs J Elder and the church was built for $320.

Floods and storms damaged the building over the years.

In 1958 a kitchen extension was added to the church.

In March 2005, there was a celebration of the church's centenary.



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