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Scots Presbyterian Church Elwood

Corner Scott and Tennyson Streets, Elwood

The St Kilda Presbyterian Church in Alma Road established a small branch Sunday school in the home of Mr and Mrs A. W. Bruce at 20 Scott Street in 1909. This was in response to the number of young families moving into the new suburb of Elwood, to the south of St Kilda.[1]

The St Kilda congregation had already bought land and a meeting on 18 December 1909 decided to build a hall on this site. The first Presbyterian service in Elwood was held on 28 April 1912 at 20 Scott Street, Elwood and was conducted by Latrobe Bagley. The hall was opened and dedicated on 12 December 1912. The building and contents had cost £785. The Reverend Alexander Yule became the first minister and was inducted on 26 June 1913 and served until September 1924. Subsequent ministers were: Sidney Hadley, 1924-28; Hugh Buntine, 1929-37; and H. H. Donaldson, 1937-45. It was decided that a larger church was required and the foundation stone was laid by the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Arthur Coles, on 10 December 1938. The red brick church was dedicated on 24 April 1939 and accommodates about 200 people. The architects, Scarborough and Love, donated the font. The main feature of the interior is the timber barrel vaulting. The honour board was placed near the entrance and has the names of fifty-three parishioners who enlisted in World War I, of whom eleven died. The seats and panelling in the chancel were donated in memory of Mr and Mrs Bruce, who had made their home available for the early services.

After World War II the ministers at Scots Church were: Douglas Fearon, 1945-49; Harry Harris, 1950-51; and Walter Harrison, 1953-64. When Harrison transferred to Warragul, a commission was appointed to enquire into the parish’s future. The congregations of Scots Church Elwood and the Elwood Methodist church held occasional joint services and began a joint Sunday school in 1965. St Kilda and Elwood were united on 1 February 1966 under Henry Sedlo, 1966-67. His successor was Alistair McAllister, 1968-78. In 1968 the congregations of Scots Church Elwood and the Elwood Methodist Church united. In 1975 Elwood voted to remain as a continuing Presbyterian church rather than join the Uniting Church. The vote was three for union and sixteen opposed. From 1978 to 1985 the position of minister was vacant and services were conducted at both St Kilda and Elwood by supply preachers. In 1985 the St Kilda-Elwood parish was united with Caulfield. The Reverend John Sweet was the minister from 1986-92. Then, in 1993 two parishes were created with Caulfield-Elwood being separated from St Kilda. The Reverend Stephen Tay has been the minister at Caulfield-Elwood since 1993.

Hall and manse

The original hall is now used as a pre-school centre. A manse was bought at 24 Scott Street, Elwood on 3 June 1929 at a cost of £1759. By 1964 it was in poor repair and was sold to pay church debts.

Original Hall


[1]     This account is taken from ‘Elwood Presbyterian Church 90th Anniversary’, typescript, courtesy of Robert Belcher.