1864 : Balmoral Presbyterian Church Foundation Stone

"The Hamilton Spectator" (Vic.) Saturday, 26th November 1864.

This interesting event in the history of Balmoral took place on Thursday last. At the appointed hour of noon, the summit of the beautiful knoll overlooking the township on which the Churrh was to be erected, was graced by the presence of a numerous assemblage of the townspeople and the neighbouring settlers, with their wives and families, to witness the laying of the stone. For the comfort of the ladies, Mr Robert Officer had, with thoughtful care, erected a large awning, over which floated the Union Jack, and under which were seats, the comfort of which was duly appreciated.
The Rev. Mr. Treadwell opened the proceedings by giving out and leading the singing of a portion of the 68th Psalm, from the 18th verse. A portion of the 3rd Chapter of 1st Corinthians was read by Mr. Treadwell, after which the Rev. Mr. Macdonald, of Hamilton, engaged in prayer.
Mr. Robert Officer then advanced, and apologising for the absence of the Honorary Secretary and Treasurer, in Melbourne, addressed Mr. Treadwell, and said :--Mr. Treadwell, I have been deputed by the committee of management to present you with a trowel, as a token of their esteem and respect, and to request you will use it in laying the foundation-stone of this church, but I am sorry to say that, through circumstances over which the committee had no control, the trowel has not yet arrived from Melbourne. I now, in the name of the committee, request you to lay the stone with an ordinary trowel, and when the silver trowel arrives it will be presented to you on another occasion.
Mr. Treadwell returned thanks in suitable terms.
Mr. Officer then read a list of the articles in the bottle, to be placed in this stone as follows :
The foundation stone of this building, which is intended to be dedicated as a place of worship to Almighty God in connection with the Presbyterian Church of Victoria, is, at the special request of the committee of management, laid by the Rev. James Treadwell, pastor of the congregation at Balmoral, in the colony of Victoria, on Thursday, the 24th day of November, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-four, being the twenty-eighth year of the reign of Victoria, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland ; His Excellency Sir Charles Henry Darling, Knight Commander of the Bath, being Governor of the said Colony, and Vice Admiral of the same.
First Minister of Balmoral--The Rev. James Treadwell.
Trustees--R. Officer, Jun.; Chas. Henry Armitage ; Chas. Myles Officer ; Duncan Robertson ; Alex C. Cameron ; William Thomas Molloy.
Members of Committee--
  • Robert Officer, Jr., J.P., squatter, "Rocklands"
  • Charles Henry Armitage, squatter, "Fulham"
  • Charles Myles Officer, squatter, "Mount Talbot"
  • Duncan Robertson, squatter, "Englefield"
  • James M'Coll, squatter, "Yatnat"
  • William Murdoch Ronald, squatter, "Congbool"
  • Donald Swan, squatter, "Spring Vale"
  • James Cuzens, storekeeper, Balmoral
  • Basil Lyon, storekeeper, Balmoral
Architect--J. S. Jenkins, Hamilton.
Builders--Alex. Manson and Archibald M'Queen, both of Hamilton.
Newspapers--Copy of Hamilton Spectator, of 23rd inst ; copy of Australasian, 19th inst.
Coins--A selection of those of the present reign ; also, a curious Chinese coin, presented by Mr. Vale.
The architect and contractors having prepared the mortar. Master Officer placed the bottle in the cavity, when the stone being lowered, the Rev. Mr. Treadwell having duly tried its position gave it the orthodox number of taps with the mallet, and declared the stone well and truly laid.
Mr. Treadwell mounting the stone, spoke as follows :--Dear friends,--It is with feelings of no ordinary satisfaction I now address you. I am proud to stand upon this stone, this day and that the committee of management have deputed me to lay the foundation-stone of the first church in Balmoral, on this beautiful site. Balmoral, on most respects, is ahead of the bush townships of the colony, and on the present occasion it is not behind them. The chapter which I have read I read for a special purpose. After enlarging on the subject of the chapter, Mr. Treadwell continued :--Dear Brethren,--The satisfaction I feel at this the last act of my ministry amongst you is of so pleasing a character that I shall never forget your kind feelings towards me until my dying day ; and as for the trowel, whenf I receive it, I will feature it, and hand it down as an heir-loom to my children's children. May the favour of God rest on this church ; may truth be preached in it for many generations, and may its services result in the conversion of souls. Some day this church will pass away. Yea ! from the very day of its erection it will commence to decay, but the Spiritual Church will not pass away. And, oh ! the blessedness of him who has built on a pure foundation. His end will be peace indeed. Again, thankfully and gratefully acknowledging the kindness of Mr. Officer, the committee of management, and the congregation, for this last expression of their kindness, I bid you farewell.
Mr. Robert Officer then rose and said--Ladies and Gentlemen,--I assure you it affords me much satisfaction and pleasure to be present to-day, assisting and taking part in the interesting ceremony of laying the foundation stone of the first church at Balmoral, and I am convinced that all here present feel the same gratification that I do on the occasion. Those who belong to other denominations than myself will, I am confident, experience hardly less pleasure than I do by its being intended for a Presbyterian place of worship. The Presbyterian body in this district were the first to establish a minister among us, and I am proud that they have been enabled, by the help of God, to commence the erection of the first church, with every certainty of having it speedily finished and completed in all its arts. You all know that I have been a long resident in this district, and from always having taken a great interest in its advancement, its is peculiarly gratifying to me to see such a decided and substantial evidence of its progress as the erection of a building dedicated to the worship of Almighty God. This is truly a step in the right direction, and I believe that it will have a most beneficial effect on the district generally, and will help to dispel a good deal of the apathy which exists as to the necessity of regularity in church attendance. Those who have excused themselves on the ground of there being no church, will now not have that to fall back upon. We have been fortunate in getting the prettiest site in Balmoral, on which to build our church, and when completed, it will undoubtedly be a great ornament to the west end of the township, which is no mean desideratum in a young and rising place. I may here mention in the absence of the Secretary, that the estimated cost of the building is 700 ; and to meet this the committee have in hand 530, raised by subscription, and the Government grant of 146, making a total of 670. This will not be quite sufficient to complete the internal arrangements thoroughly, and the fencing and other outdoor works cannot be finished without an additional amount being raised. However, I have no doubt that by a little extra exertion on the part of the church committee and a little more liberality on the part of the congregation, this financial difficulty will soon be surmounted. The building is expected to be completed in March next, and the next ceremony we will be called upon to celebrate, will be its opening, which I am sure all here will look forward to with interest. I trust earnestly that the blessings of the Almighty may rest on the building, and on all connected with its erection.
Dr. Molloy next addressed the audience and said he could scarcely have anticipated the pleasure of taking a part on this occasion. He could not, however, refrain from saying something, after what had been said already. Laying the foundation stone of a church was always an interesting event in the progress of Christianity, and it was the more so in a new country like Victoria. The early settlers of tis country had had the glorious privilege of being enabled to establish sound and pure religion, unfetted and when they thought of the difficulties overcome by the early Christians who had to preach in the woods and caves, and in terror of their lives, they ought to value and see their privileges with thankfulness, and as became responsible creatures. He was glad to see that the right spirit still reigned, and thanking them for the patient hearing they had given him he concluded.
The Rev. A. Macdonald, of Hamilton, said : My Christian friends, I congratulate you on this auspicious occasion, and to find the interests of the Church at Balmoral in each a healthy and nourishing condition. I rejoice to be present with you, and to take a part in the interesting proceedings of this day, an occasion, in one sense, of deeper interest and importance than any other which could have brought such a large assemblage of people together. When we think what issues may grow out of this day's proceedings--what numberless souls maybe converted to God in this sanctuary, to be dedicated to His service--what glory may resound to His great name through the preaching of the Gospel within the walls now to be erected--who is he whose heart is right with God, who would not heartily rejoice with us in seeing such edifices erected all over the land ? It is the spreading of the glorious Gospel--the establishment of ordinances of religion that shall make this fair and bright land in which our lot is cast great and prosperous. No one rejoices more than I do to see every branch of industry flourish, and to mark the progress of our adopted country ; but let us not forget that the true greatness of Victoria consists not in her sheep and wool, not in her seams, and reefs, and golden quartz, but in sowing broadcast over the country such churches as these together with all the means of grace which are calculated to raise her morally and spiritually. Religion is the true lever to raise a Country, and we know where it is said that "righteousness exalteth a nation." I congratulate people of Balmoral on the site, they have secured for their church. It is beautiful for situation, and will be seen at a considerable distance on entering the town by any of the thoroughfares. It will be a standing witness for God, and strangers will feel as they approach that Christians are here. I thank the Committee of Management for the generous aid they have given, both by their means and their time, in adding such an ornament to the township. I thank you all, in the name of our Presbyterian Church, and in the name of our common Christianity, for uniting togtther in so important a work. May the blessing of heaven rest on your labours. May no word be ever preached here contrary to the mind and the will of God. May it be said of this place that "this man and the man there were born herein."
The proceedings concluded with prayer and praise.