BY SANDRA DAVIS
Many readers would be familiar with St. Paul’s Anglican Church at 99 Ernest Street, Manly. Some may have been baptised there, attended Sunday School there, been confirmed there, married there, and attended numerous funeral services of relatives and friends over the years.
Many folks will be saddened to know that St. Paul’s days in Ernest Street are numbered – in 2023, it is scheduled to relocate, with the property being bought by the Education Department in June 2022, to enable the adjacent primary school to expand its premises.
The church has a long history spanning 132 years, from 1890 to 2022. In November 2014, the church celebrated its centenary.
Services were initially held from 1890 to 1899 at the Board Hall in Glenora Street, Wynnum, until the five lots of land in Ernest Street were purchased from a parishioner, Harrie Lineker, on 9th March 1912. The timber church (later the hall) was built in three months and was originally painted dark green.
Until its demolition, it was pale grey. Until 1964 it was the church, but with the advent of the present church in 1964, it developed into a social hub where concerts, parties, quiz and trivia nights were held. In addition to this, it served as a venue for a multitude of classes, clubs, dance and sporting groups to use. It continued to do this until the end.
The property is large, comprising the 1914 hall, the 1964 church and the Rectory, a modern two-storey brick residence constructed in 1978. The Rectory will also be demolished, but the church building will be retained to be used by Manly State School as a music centre.
The property had eight large gardens, one being the Memorial Garden, which opened in July 2006. There was 23 folk represented here, 11 of whose ashes were either interred or scattered over the bromeliads, coleuses, durantas, ferns, geraniums, lilies and roses which flourished here. The Memorial Garden will be relocated to the Edwin Marsden Tooth Memorial Home at 162 Oceana Terrace, Manly. This is known to most local folk as Lota House.
These are the physical details, but the most important feature of St. Paul’s was its outreach to the local community. This began in 1914 when the hall was built and continues to the present day. Father Frederick Wilson, the Rector from 1952 to 1980, always considered outreach into the wider community a very important part of the church’s mission. Five outreaches during the early days were Anglicare, the Bible Society Walkathon, Superwalk, 40 Hour Famine and jumble sales, initiated by Valerie Cook. For various reasons, these have lapsed over the years. However, there were eight outreaches still in operation until the end.
One of St. Paul’s most important outreaches to the local community was SAILS, the acronym for Sailing Adventures in Life Skills. Its aim was to attend to the spiritual and social needs of young folk in the Wynnum-Manly community. Regular sailing days were organised, and the fleet of six vessels was housed in the area behind the Rectory. Canon Keith Colbert initiated this outreach in November 2006. Three other churches were involved: St.Peter’s in Wynnum, St. George’s in Birkdale and St. Paul’s in Cleveland.
Another important outreach to the community involved the Mission to Seafarers Centre, housed on Port Drive at Fisherman Islands since 1965. The centre offers fellowship, hospitality and a welcoming Christian atmosphere to seafarers from all over the world. Since 1998 the centre has distributed free beanies to the seafarers, many of whom work in icy climates. Over 1,600 of these beanies have come from St. Paul’s.
Of great assistance in these present times of hardship was the parish pantry. This offered food and drink to the needy folk of the area. It was very well patronised. A similar outreach was the assistance given to the needy by Rosies, which operated from one of the front rooms in the hall. This free service was also well patronised and greatly appreciated.
In addition to these four, St.Paul’s ran garage sales. These sales were organised by parishioner Valerie Cook and were an excellent way of making contact with local folk, who loved the chance of browsing and collecting a bargain.
There were also six other outreaches into the wider community and overseas: Mothers Union, Nils, BCA, BMF, ABM, and Operation Christmas Child.
Yes, St. Paul’s has had a great connection with the community for 132 years. Its departure will be a great loss to Manly, historically, socially and spiritually.
The deconsecration service was held at 2pm on Sunday, 12th June 2022. It was conducted by Bishop Jeremy Greaves, assisted by Rector Cameron Freese, who was once a parishioner at St. Paul’s.
It’s a shame that this era has come to an end. In 2013 a very detailed history book of St. Paul’s was produced by parishioner Sandra Davis with the assistance of 45 interested people. It is called Here At The Edge of The Sea and presents a very clear picture of life at St. Paul’s in Ernest Street over 132 years.