In the Beginning ...
The Church of Christ in Cheltenham had its origin in two beginnings: one in the northern end of the district and one further south. On his arrival from Scotland, James Keir commenced a communion service in his home on the Nepean Road. The meeting alternated between the Keir home and the home of Thomas Walker, who had come from Chester, England, the area around their home becoming known as Chesterville. By 1859 the group-which included such other names as Allen, Brough, Cameron, Fairlam, Holdsworth, Le Page, Meeres, Monk, Organ, Penny, Perry, Potts, Sears and King-had built a small chapel near the corner of Wickham and Chesterville Roads. During 1858, a group had also begun meeting in the Charman family home on the corner of Charman and Balcombe Roads. Names associated with this group included Bodley, Charman, Fisher, Hayes, Hilliar, Judd, Moysey and Ruse. In 1860 they built a chapel on the corner of Charman Road and Patty Street. It was enlarged in 1866 and it became the meeting place of the two groups when they came together around 1870.
Five years later the church was ready to expand further. Feeling a little removed from the centre of the district, they began meeting in the Mechanics' Institute (Nepean Road) on Sunday evenings. They were able to buy land near the corner of Chesterville and Nepean Roads, and erected a new brick chapel on the site in 1878. This chapel, of course, continues to be an integral part of the life of Southern and was one of the three worship venues for the 150th Anniversary celebration in 2007. The official opening of the chapel on 8th December 1878 was reported as "the largest religious service ever held in Cheltenham". On Monday 9th December 1878 over 500 people attended a dinner at the Mechanics' Institute which was followed by a public meeting in the new chapel. The chapel opening also marked the commencement of the ministry of Mr. G.B. Moysey.
As the Church continued to grow, so various improvements and additions were made to the buildings. The Pine Street Hall (as it has become known) was built for the Bible School in 1902. The foundation stone was laid by Mrs Tuck, wife of R.W. Tuck who served in leadership of the Sunday School and Church for over forty years. The ‘E.T. Penny Memorial Hall' was erected for the kindergarten in 1920. The front of the chapel was remodeled in 1956 in time for the centenary celebrations. Another hall for the children's ministry was built in 1958, and the Ray Barnett Christian Education Centre was opened on 29th April 1962. Significantly, this auditorium was incorporated into the building of the new complex in 1997 and was the third of the venues used for the 150th Anniversary celebration. In 1967 a Carillon was installed in the church tower in memory of Mr Fred Deane. The section housing the V.C. Stafford Library (now used to house the church archives) was added in 1968 to link the chapel with the Pine Street Hall.
The 1970's and 1980's, with people such as Rev. Dr. Gordon Moyes and Rev. Gerald Rose as Senior Ministers, saw significant growth in the life and mission of the church. This development was significantly supplemented by the amalgamation of the Cheltenham, East Bentleigh and Hampton Street Churches of Christ in 1993, and a comprehensive new facility was designed and built to accommodate the ever-increasing activity of the amalgamated church. It was opened on 30th November 1997.download our booklet here