Tailem Bend History

Tailem Bend Uniting Church

2000 – 2013




10th November 2013

VOL. lll




Tailem Bend Congregation : September 2013.
(l to r: Paquita Smith, Wes Gowland, Dorothy Gowland,
Rhonda Mik, Fay Oliver, Elsie Woolcock, John Woolcock,
John Williss.  Absent: Enid Johncock)

Church History OCT2013-001

From our Ministers

image7The legacy of a faithful community lives beyond its physical existence through those who have been touched by the ministry of the community. As we reflect on the history of Tailem Bend Church and look back across the years of its people ministering within the Tailem Bend Community we can also look forward into the future to see that those who have received ministry will also carry the story with them.

The story of Christian people around the world and the message of the Church is one of life, life given by Jesus to all, and life accessible to all people. This sometimes means that there is a change in the way that the life is expressed but life is still present and available to give hope and vision to God’s people.

At a time such as this when we are remembering the history of a faithful community we can trust that God will provide hope and life to those who seek God in the future, just as God has done for those who sought in the past.

We can therefore give thanks to God for those who have served faithfully over the many years of the life of Tailem Bend church knowing that their ministry has not been in vain or their efforts wasted. We can trust that God will continue to bring life to all who have been a part of the story of Tailem Bend Uniting Church and the witness to the saving love of Jesus will continue in its story into the future.

Rev.  Ernest Sorensen.

image8As I reflect on the past six months as pastor to the Tailem Bend UCA congregation, my strongest sense is one of gratitude and awe for the faithfulness of this community. I accompanied Russell Kickbush – lay preacher, the first time I experienced a worship service at the Tailem Bend UCA. As I sat in the beautifully carved pews I noticed the exquisite wood carvings, particularly the one of the Last Supper, the beautifully handcrafted adornments and the wonderful acoustics, which enabled a few of us to sound like a choir of angels! This, I realised, is a well loved church.

I was saddened to hear about the cost of the roof restoration which had hastened the impending closure and even though I know there are multifactorial reasons for its closure, I am deeply saddened.

However I know our God is a creative and surprising God and I continue to hope that the Tailem Bend UCA building, will continue to be a house of prayer, worship and a sign of God’s hospitality and Good News through Jesus Christ, to the world – somehow!

Through our grief and lamentation, may we be comforted to remember that the church is the fellowship of the Holy Spirit and we are a pilgrim people. Each one of us is called to be a sign of God’s love, compassion and hope in the world, through Jesus Christ – our redeemer and saviour.

So in the words of St Paul “I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light, so that you can see something of the future he has called you to share. (Eph. 1:18) and: May God our Father of the Lord Jesus Christ give you all of his blessings and great peace of heart and mind.” (1Cor: 3).

Faithful and courageous servants of Christ, may your legacy and presence, continue to inspire and encourage us . Shalom. Amen.

Frances Bartholomeusz


10th September 2000 to 10th November 2013.

The continuing story of the Tailem Bend church now needs to be told from the centenary on 10th September 2000. Little did we realize that some 13 years later we would be gathering again, but this time to attend the final service in this well-loved church building. The history of buildings on this site is worth reiterating. Over the years there have been many predictions about the future of the Tailem Bend region with a parliamentarian once stating he could visualise half a million people living south of the railway line from Tailem Bend to Bordertown (“The Chronicle 1945”).  The growth was never that dramatic, but a vibrant Methodist church community in 1927 had outgrown their current building (built in 1900 and situated where Foodland now stands in Railway Terrace) and so they planned and built a new Church on the corner of Granites Rd. and Gollan St.  In 1947 the congregation was congratulated by the then President of the Methodist Conference (Rev. A.D. McCutcheon) on having cleared itself of debt.  The Hall was an addition in 1955 and in 1986 the walkway between the church and hall buildings was covered in and a new toilet block added.  Rev. Thelma Holmes opened these extensions on 30th November 1986.

Church History OCT2013-003 Church History OCT2013-006 Church History OCT2013-005 Church History OCT2013-004 Church History OCT2013-007

Since then the district and the Church have had many highlights and also many struggles, some of which are listed below.

The ministers in placement in 2001, Rev. Malcolm Bottrill and Rev. Sandra Webb gave oversight to the formation of the Lower Murray Uniting Parish  where the congregations of Tailem Bend, Rockleigh, Murray Bridge and Mypolonga became supporting entities linked together through ministry. Many blessings flowed from their ministry at Tailem Bend.


In 2001 the Parish farewelled Rev. Sandra Webb and at the end of March 2004 Rev. Malcolm Bottrill accepted a call to the Aitkenvale Church in Townsville and it was at this stage that the Parish felt it could no longer support two ministers.

There was a period of upheaval in 2003 over the matters of membership, ministry and sexuality and it caused great pain in the life of the Church with Tailem Bend losing several of its regular members.

In February 2004 Rev. Rob Mayne was appointed minister of the Lower Murray Uniting Parish.  During his appointment, regular meetings were held between the linked congregations so that better communication could begin, and also with the Tailem Bend Elders. Several different patterns of worship were considered but not ecumenical worship.

As a church we have always supported the work of the Ecumenical Council and two of our members, Paquita Smith and Rhonda Mik have represented us over a very long period on this council.  Paquita Smith was recently acknowledged for her 18 years service as Secretary of this council.

At the instigation of the late Dennis Langton monthly markets were trialled on a 3 monthly basis to help raise some much needed finances and on 14th August 2004 there was much eager anticipation in the Church Hall as we set up the stalls.  Initially the markets were well supported but by December the public support had waned and the markets folded soon after.   A total of $2,460 had been raised.

The ageing Church building was now starting to need repairs and in 2005 we were successful in obtaining $4,800 in gift funding from Synod for new guttering and the painting of the exterior.

A new sound system was installed in October 2007 with great benefit to the congregation and we are indebted to Phil Johncock for his generous donation towards the cost of the system.  Our thanks also go to Phil for his tireless work in ridding the church roof tops of the many pigeons.

It has been an outreach opportunity to have the wider community access our facilities and for short periods the Hall has been hired out to New Image Photos, Taberefta Homes for the Aged and right up until quite recently the local Darts Club had a fortnightly booking.

A significant decision was made by the Lower Murray Uniting Parish in March 2008 to sell the existing Manse on Verdun Rd. and the land on Albert Tce. and then build a new manse on Commerce Rd., Murray Bridge.  There has been no manse in Tailem Bend since it was sold in 1975.

There was a significant change in the structure of the Uniting Churches in 2005 when Synod changed from the Presbytery model to Networks.  We initially joined the geographical South-East Network, but after several years switched to the Grace Network.

In July 2009 Rev. Ernest Sorensen was appointed Minister of the Word to the Lower Murray Uniting Parish .


There have been many attempts to solve the problems of declining numbers and in September 2009 we requested a Synod consultation.  A Synod restructure at this time resulted in the proposal of a cluster model of ministry which included Tailem Bend, Rockleigh, Mypolonga, Cambrai, Karoonda, Mannum and Mt. Pleasant.  This proposal was not financially viable for Tailem Bend.

In March 2011 Tailem Bend voted to have two church services per month and were encouraged to join Murray Bridge for their 9.30 a.m. service as often as possible. The worshipping congregation at this time averaged 9, with these stalwart attendees: Doreen Bagg, Colin Barney, Wes and Dorothy Gowland, Enid Johncock, Joan Langton, Rhonda Mik, Fay Oliver, Russell Pfitzner, Paquita Smith, Heather and John Spry, Ted and Dorothy Titley, John Williss and Elsie and John Woolcock. Formal meetings of the congregation ceased at this stage.

In February 2013 newly ordained deacon, Rev. Frances Bartholomeusz was appointed as pastor to the congregations in Tailem Bend, Mypolonga and Rockleigh and to care pastorally for the residents of Lerwin, & Resthaven.  Murray Bridge congregation is meeting any financial costs of this placement should the smaller congregations prove unable to meet them.

A special Tailem Bend congregational meeting was called on 30th April 2013 with a Synod representative, Lyn Aird, and Rev. Ernest Sorensen and Rev. Frances Bartholomeusz, to discuss the future of the Church.  This meeting deemed that the sale of the church building was our only option as most members could not justify spending approx. $22,000 needed for immediate urgent repairs, with such a small and diminishing congregation.

Then in August 2013, after much prayer and discussion around becoming a faith community, the congregation lamented they no longer had the energy to continue and voted to close the church community.  Rev. Ashley Davis encouraged those who felt comfortable worshipping with the Lutherans to do so and others will travel to Murray Bridge to join in their 9.30 am service.

We note the current situation of other congregations in the Lower Murray Parish: Mypolonga are transitioning to become a faith community and Rockleigh and Murray Bridge will continue to worship weekly.

The Tailem Bend Church over this last period has run the following groups:

Ladies Fellowship: 2000 – 2013

A small but devout group, on average of about 8 ladies, continued to meet monthly during this period for fellowship and service.  Some $5,560.00 has been given to various groups and causes including:  support of the work of the local School’s Ministry Group, Samaritan’s Purse, Red Dove Café,  Bible Society, Biak Boat Appeal, Frontier Services, Murchison Patrol, CBMI, RFDS, Litchfield and Tretheway families serving overseas, and Rev. M. Bottrill medicines for PNG.  We have also regularly given money for the sweets basket for our volunteer visitors at the local hospital (in the early years the late Garth Oliver and Avis Carslake, and more recently  Ron Morgan and Fay Oliver.)


In 2001 one of our members, Rhonda Mik, was awarded the Coorong Council Citizen of the Year, a testament to her Christian love in action in the community

The fellowship’s main source of income has been through catering, mainly for funerals.  As the members were ageing and finding the catering more and more difficult it was agreed regrettably that at the end of 2007 we could no longer offer this service.  Many fun hours had been spent as we worked together offering love and support in this way to the wider community.

As our numbers were dwindling many different formats were tried, bi-monthly night & afternoon meetings, evening meetings, before finally settling on daytime meetings in 2009 to be held at the Church hall rather than in members’ homes.  As the President’s role was proving difficult to fill, in 2011 it was decided we would have no President but the hostess for the meeting would take on those duties.

As a group each year we looked forward to our combined meeting with the Murray Bridge Evening Fellowship.  They always provided an energetic, interesting programme and we are indebted to them for their continued support.

Each year we were able to send representatives to the other denominations to share worship for the World Day of Prayer and have taken our turn in hosting the event.  We were also able on many occasions to support the various Adult Fellowship Rallies in the Coorong region.

One of our members, Avis Carslake, had retired to Goolwa and we were thrilled to be able to visit her fellowship group and share with them.

At the time of writing the Fellowship ladies are considering still meeting in a very informal way two or three times during the year.

Choir – 2000 – 2009

The choir, under the able leadership of Enid Johncock, and pianist, Shirley Hack, continued to help in the worship services by singing at Christmas, Easter, Communion Sundays and other special occasions.

One of the choir members, Diane Schubert, generously purchased new navy blue skirts for the lady members as it was felt the current outfits were looking somewhat “tired”.  A new music book was purchased with an inscription placed therein as an acknowledgment to Di’s generosity.

Sadly in 2009 the choir performed for the last time at the Christmas special service as with smaller numbers and ageing members they felt they could no longer continue.


The Tailem Bend congregation is mindful of all the support that the various local preachers and musicians have given over a very long period of time enabling them to continue on as a worshipping community.

To all those within the congregation who have faithfully served their Lord each week by opening the church for services, arranging flowers, playing the organ, operating the overhead projector, preparing communion and morning tea, taking up the collection, and for those who have come to worship, we say “thank you”  for maintaining this witness.

Another chapter closes
Much fellowship and blessings
Enjoyed by all who have served their Lord in this place
Never to be forgotten.



Church History OCT2013-012
World Day of Prayer Banner
Country : Panama
Made by Paquita Smith

Church History OCT2013-013
World Day of Prayer Banner
Country : PNG
Made by Paquita Smith

Church History OCT2013-014
“Seize the hope!”
Designed by Don Hopgood, Moderator, U.C.
Made by Avis Carslake and Dorothy Gowland.



Baptismal Font
“Elsa Regina Jaensche
Aged 47 years…..was called to higher service 31st January 1934”

Communion Table
“Dedicated to the memory of the late W.E. Cross
and L.A. Pontt”

“Dedicated to the memory of Emily May Patten
Called to higher service 27/2/62.”


Our beautiful stained glass windows featured in an article in the local paper “The Standard” on 14th November 1968, page 17:

Church Gifts Dedicated

Memorial windows and a lectern were dedicated in an impressive ceremony at the
Tailem Bend Methodist Church on Sunday.  About 250 people attended from various
parts of the state. The member for Murray (Mr. I. Wardle) and Mrs. Wardle were also present.

Organist was Mr. Keith Shaw, and the guest preacher was the Superintendent of the Methodist Malvern Circuit, the Rev. F.E. Tregilgas of Rosefield.  He was a former minister at Tailem Bend from 1951 to 1954.

The service was conducted by the present minister, the Rev. J. Gallagher, assisted by the Chairman of the Methodist Murray District, the Rev. N.S. Miller of Murray Bridge.

The memorial windows and lectern were accepted by the secretary of the church Trust (Mr. K. Shaw) from Mr. R.A. Jaensch.

Mr. Miller dedicated the windows to the Glory of God and in the memory of L.A. Pontt
W.M. Irvine, W.F. & E.J. Norman, W. Goodgame, Mrs. O.H. Bromley, O.J. Wahlheim &
B.B. Jaensch and the lectern to the Glory of God and in memory of Mrs. E.M. Patten.

All these people had created good fellowship, had been most active in the affairs of the Church and had been devout and practicing worshippers in their long years of life. The lectern carried the symbol of a dove in flight, with rays of light, and the windows have various religious symbols and scriptures, and are in various colours. The atmosphere they create reflects great credit on the designer (Mr. Gallagher) to capture the word of God.

A luncheon was held later in the Methodist Hall, with past and present residents of the town and immediate district mingling and renewing former friendships.”

 image21  Church History OCT2013-011  Church History OCT2013-019  Church History OCT2013-020
In memory of
William Goodgame
1904 – 1960
“The Lord is my light and my salvation”
In memory of Olive
Bessie Bromley
1886 – 1967
“O taste and see that
the Lord is good”
In memory of Oswald
(Jack) Wahlheim
1891 – 1958
“Blessed is the man whom thou choosest”
In memory of Bartel
Bernhard Jaensch
1886 -1965“
They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength”
 Church History OCT2013-008  Church History OCT2013-009  image27  image28
In memory of Margaret
Ruby Pontt
Died 11th March 1951
“In His Everlasting Arms”
In memory of Louis
Albert Pontt
Died Nov. 27th 1966“
Eternal are Thy mercies Lord”
In memory of William
Magnus Irvine
1900 – 1966
Vera Rose Irvine
1905 – 1968
“For me to live is Christ and to die is gain”
In memory of Elizabeth Jane and Frederick
Walter Norman
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son”


2000 – 2013

Rev. M. Bottrill 1995 – 2004

Rev. S. Webb 1997 –  2001

Rev. R. Mayne 2004 – 2009

Rev. E. Sorensen 2009 –

Rev. F. Bartholomeusz2013 –


Written for and on behalf of the “Last Chapter” Executive Committee:

Rev. Frances Bartholomeusz,  Convenor
Paquita Smith
Wes Gowland
Rhonda Mik
who would be grateful to anyone who is able to correct any errors of fact in this booklet.


Mrs. Nancy Graetz of Murray Bridge reminisces:

“In early 1939, We, the Ridley’s moved to Moorlands.  Sometimes I came to Tailem Bend Church and in the early 1940 Rev. Guthbelet was the minister.

For several years fleas used to come up from between the floorboards and it was difficult not to reach down and scratch during the sermon.

In 1948 Dr. Frank Hambly was to officiate at our wedding at Madge Memorial.  When I arrived at the altar there stood a strange minister who introduced himself – Rev. Frank Silwood.  Rev. Hambly had to go to Hobart.  I remembered the name Silwood.  While he was minister at Tailem Bend his wife (Adele?) died suddenly and there was a stained glass window dedicated to her memory.

After his wife’s death Rev. Silwood resigned from the ministry but did some supernumerary work.”

Fay Oliver recalls:

“After being involved with Scots Church, Adelaide, for 33 years, when Garth and I retired to Wellington and joined the Tailem Bend Uniting Church, we decided that we would sit in the back pew, worship, but not get involved.  It did not work.  With Garth’s ability with children and his artistic talents, he had much to offer.  I enjoyed 29 years of worship and fellowship with new friends.”

Raelene Brehaut comments:

“A great sense of being loved and cared for during life’s ups and downs in this Church community”.

Mrs. Joan Langton reminisces:

“My son Philip married Anthea on 13th November 1982 service conducted by Rev.J.Tai Teo.

Dennis and I renewed our 45th marriage vows in 1999 service conducted by  Rev.Sandy Webb.

Music played a big part in our lives, so singing with the church choir was a highlight for us, and we enjoyed it so much.

We had lots of laughs too, especially when Dennis & Ron either sang the wrong words or the wrong tune.

I guess the sad day was Dennis’s funeral service, which took place on April 1st 2010, which was his 75th birthday.

Will be sad to see the church close, but happy memories will last for ever.”

Heather & John Spry of Guildford, W.A. (formerly Wellington, SA) reminisce:

“It was wonderful to find and become part of a country church family with which to share a major part of our lives with. The kind and welcoming congregation  enriched and supported our Christian lives. We have made life long friends and will forever treasure this. Thankyou Tailem Bend Uniting Church.”

Ann Carter reminisces:

“In January 1968, Ken and I moved from Gumeracha to Kilsby Swamp (with our young family) to set up a dairy farm. As Tailem Bend was our nearest church, that is where we worshipped for a number of years .The children attended Sunday School, I became one of the organists, joined the Women’s Fellowship and the Ladies Choir. Many happy times were had as this small group of ladies put on concerts for others to enjoy, as well as singing at church services.  Since retiring into Murray Bridge I have continued my association with Tailem Bend church through being part of the organ roster, and it is with sadness that I recognise the need for this congregation to close. “


Dr Melanie Bagg, of Marryatville, South Australia recalls:

“Attending the Tailem Bend Uniting Church with my Nanna, Doreen Bagg, is amongst my most special and happy memories. The sense of community and belonging we felt by being part of the Tailem Bend Uniting Church congregation was very precious for both of us.

In Nanna’s last days we recalled singing songs together at church, the wonderful harvest and other celebrations and of course the very special Nativity re-enactment which would take place at the Christmas service each year. Indeed, there are still many photos of me dressed up as a little angel in my white nightie with a tinsel halo, usually firmly attached to Mr. Oliver!

Although my life has taken me all around the world, I will always have fond memories and a special place in my heart for the Tailem Bend Uniting Church and the kind people that were part of its congregation. I had a lot of very difficult health challenges throughout my life and it really did help knowing that I was prayed for and welcomed with open arms. God bless all of you.”

Di and Mark Schubert of Gumeracha, SA (formerly of Jervois) comment:

“That the Tailem Bend UC congregation was like “a big family”…. always caring for one another.”

Aileen Martin of Murray Bridge remembers:

“After my daughter, Lynnette, was born and started to be helpful, I took her to church with me.  One morning she was restless so Ross Jaensch helped me out by nursing her for a while.  Lynnette found a comb in his top pocket and promptly started to comb his bald head with it.  After church Ross good naturedly commented that he did not mind his bald head being combed but the sniggers from the seats behind were not appreciated.

When we moved to Tailem Bend from Murray Bridge I attended the evening church service.  One night Mr. Petterson from Murray Bridge did not arrive to take the service.  Even though I was very pregnant I offered to help out.  Mr. Pontt looked me up and down in amazement and said “He would ask”, this he did and came back to accept my offer.  While I went home to get my sermon on the 23rd psalm the organist chose the hymns.  The way the hymns fitted the service was perfect and it was evident that God was in control.”