The Oldest Baptist Church in the State

“The oldest Baptist Church in the State” … that was the honour that was given to the Salem Baptist Church in Gumeracha, South Australia back in 1946, when the church celebrated it’s Centenary Anniversary.

And this weekend weekend the little church celebrated it’s 175th anniversary.

Before you all start commenting saying that the dates don’t match up, the beginnings of the church actually date back to 1843 when William Beavis Randell held church services in his barn at “Kenton Park”, Gumeracha. So it’s 175 years from this date.

Then in 1845 he donated land for the church, which was built and up-and-running by 1846.

earliest known photo of Salem Baptist Church, Gumeracha, c.1870

the church, taken 29 October 2018

side view from the other direction, taken 1900

Australia’s historical newspaper collection, Trove is once again a treasure of information and has a long report on their 100th Anniversary. You can read the full article here.

The Mount Barker Courier and Onkaparinga and Gumeracha Advertiser, 14 November 1946, p.3

Not only that, we’re fortunate enough to have an original copy of the program from the 1946 anniversary service …

pages 1 and 2 of the 100th Anniversary original programme booklet

I have a lot of memories of relating to this church.

It’s where I went to church for many years. It’s where many family weddings were held, and it’s also were many family are buried.

I remember racing around the church (before the current hall was there), and falling over face-first in the mud in my “Sunday best” – my mum was not impressed! I remember the older ladies taking turns to bring flowers each week, and they always fretted about it. I remember the piles of fruit and veg stacked out front when it was Thanksgiving. I remember the Christmas concerts, and the special afternoon teas from time-to-time. I remember the regulars had ‘their seats’ at church, as well as their spots in the car park too.

But mostly I remember what a beautiful little church it was back then, and still is today – although I’m really not a fan of the new hall on the side. Because of where it is you can no longer see the 1846 date engraving on the church wall.

Do you have memories of the church? If so, feel free to leave a comment below.

Anyway I’m sure I’m not alone in being proud that my great great grandpa, William Beavis Randell played such an important role in it all.

Congratulations on 175 years Gumeracha Salem Baptist Church. Here’s to the next 175!!

William Beavis Randell: The Man Who Created a Town
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