We recognise that Golden Grove Uniting Church is built on land that was originally cared for and used in various ways by the Kaurna people. We confess that the Kaurna people (along with the wider Aboriginal and Islander population of Australia) were dispossessed of their land through European settlement, as farmers and graziers extended their interests. We are thankful that the Kaurna people retain a strong relationship with their land and we respectfully acknowledge their elders.

Although many consider Golden Grove as ?a well-planned new housing development?, it was actually settled in 1838, two years after the establishment of the colony of South Australia.

The early settlers were mostly farmers, or tended orchards and vineyards, but they were just as concerned to provide for their families, build a home, and to ensure a Christian education for their children, as many parents of today.

We acknowledge the Christian commitment, strength, vision and tenacity of the early settlers in this area.

All historical information is recorded from collections of documents including published histories, church records, and local knowledge.

The published history ?A History of the Golden Grove Uniting Church ? 150th Church Anniversary? edition, 2016 is available for purchase from church office, or via the contact page of this website.??Cost of purchase: $15.00

Early History

Early Settlers

The first person to settle at Golden Grove was Alexander Kirk. He was born near Lockerby, Dumfries-shire, Scotland, and came to the colony in 1838 on the ship ?Lysander?. For a time he worked at road-making and wharf-building at Port Adelaide. There, he slept in a half-ton cask, which could be turned in any direction to suit the wind and weather. He later bought some cows and ?squatted? in the bush where Golden Grove is now. Feed was plentiful, there was no dispute about the boundaries of his run, and the milk yield was heavy. Having no horse, he carried his butter on his shoulder to Adelaide, fourteen miles. There he exchanged it for household requisites. The barter system operated as money was unavailable in the Colony.

On 7th May, 1845 he married Clementina Smart, who had arrived on the ship ?Ariadne?. The marriage ceremony was conducted by the Reverend Robert Haining, in Sturt Street, Adelaide. Mr Kirk then bought a section of land and built his house, mostly with timber, hand-sawn from a large red gum tree that stood nearby. The Golden Wedding of this pioneer couple was celebrated in the original home, ?Kirklands?, on 6th May, 1905. Mr Kirk was then in his 87th year.

This ?Eden? was soon discovered by other settlers, including Messrs. John Byers, Peter Little, A. Dodgson, Peter McDonald, John and Charles Watson, John Smart, and Adam Robertson, who named his property ?Golden Grove?.

First gathering Christians, and School House

In 1846 a few of the residents met for worship in the house of Mr John Byers. A Sunday School was opened. Mr Dodgson led the singing and conducted the service, while Mr Byers acted as a teacher and superintendent. A small Day School was established in a slab hut at Cobbler?s Creek.

In January, 1849, there was a public meeting to raise funds for a public school. Mr John Watson acted as Secretary For this purpose, the late Adam Robertson had given an acre of land, whilst Mr Watson continued to seek the funds to build the first part of what later became the Golden Grove school house.

It was in this building that Sunday services were held, after the regular Sunday School [or Sabbath School, as it was then called] which had begun in 1850. The latter was conducted in the home of Mr John Byers, with John Dodgson, until the Church building later became a reality, opening in 1866.

Mr John Byers was a Sunday School Superintendent for a total of fifty years.

On 20th March in 1850, the Golden Grove School opened, under the management of the Presbyterian Church Council, and in 1849, James Anderson, later an Ordained Minister, was both Minister and school teacher. From 1853, Mr William H Humpage was installed as the first Schoolmaster. Evening school classes were held. An addition was made to the school, to include a residence, costing ?150. Mr William Anderson, followed as schoolmaster in 1854, and then, in 1861, by Schoolmistress, Miss Cate. In 1870, Mr John Holt also had an assistant teacher, Miss Bell. From1872 to 1876, Mr Randolph George Stewart Payne was the teacher.

There had been problems, recorded by the Golden Grove Presbyterian Church, in meeting the stipend of a number of their teachers, from 1849.

In 1876 it was decided ?that it is desirable that the school property is handed over to the South Australian Council of Education for the sum of ?200?.

Golden Grove School House ? Opened 1849 ? closed 1961

First Christian Society

In November, 1861, thirty-eight members passed the following resolution,

? We whose names are hereafter appended, being professing Christians, and formerly belonging to several sections of the church and others who have been brought out of the world by the varied gospel instrumentality, employed in this neighbourhood, and elsewhere, do hereby voluntarily form ourselves into a Christian Society. We do this for the Glory of God, the good of our fellowmen and for our individual and mutual benefit. ?

In 1898 the Golden Grove Sunday School celebrated its Jubilee, and was given a Medallion, on a Certificate, to remember this occasion.

The wording states;-
?Golden Grove Presbyterian Sunday School Jubilee 1848 ?1898?

There is a copy of one in our Historical Cabinet at the Golden Grove Church.

The Church

Land for the church

In 1864 Capt. John Robertson, on behalf of his late father Captain Adam Robertson (who passed away in the same year), gave a site for a Church on the north?west corner of Section 5458 within a stone?s throw of the school and public cemetery.

The building committee consisted of Messrs. J.Smart, Charles Smart, Robert Smyth Snr., J. Robertson, Peter Little, David Dow, Eli Gate, John Byers and Robert McEwin.

The Church dimensions were ? length 40? in the clear by 28? in width, height of walls from the ground 15?, two rooms to be built at the end for a vestry and sitting room?.
The building cost ?550.

All internal fittings were made and fixed by Mr. Joseph Blake, of Smithfield

Laying of the Foundation Stone

Rev. Ralph Drummond laid the foundation stone on 24th July, 1865.

The document deposited under the foundation stone reads 😕

?This document is deposited under the corner?stone of a new edifice to be erected for the use of the Presbyterian Church, Golden Grove, to the praise and honour of the one only God, ever blessed Father, Son and Holy Spirit, to whom be glory and dominion for ever and ever. The stone is laid by the Rev. Ralph Drummond on this 24th day of July, 1865 being the 29th year of the reign of Her Most Gracious Majesty, Queen Victoria, and the 29th year from the foundation of the Colony, and the fourth year of the Governorship of Sir Dominic Daly. Trustees are J. Robertson, Robert Smart, James Dow, Robert McEwin, Robert Smyth Snr., John Byers and Peter Little. John Johnson (Contractor), E. Walters (Builder), W.B.Coston (Secretary).?

?Arise ye and build the sanctuary of the Lord. Other foundations can no man lay than that is laid which is Jesus Christ. Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish Thou the work of our hands upon us; yea the work of our hands establish Thou it.?


The Church was insured for ?100; Furniture and fittings ?70, and Organ ?30


Daniel Garlick, whose family farmed at Uleybury, was a Colonial architect of repute, and was possibly the architect for the Golden Grove Church.
The original plans had to be curtailed, without the two rooms, because of costs.

Opening Service

After the opening service ?200 was owing, which was cleared the following year.

A record in Roman numerals on a stone above the entrance porch testifies to the opening date being 24th June, 1866.

Rev. John Gardener conducted the Opening Services. The Trustees were Messrs. R. Smart, J. Dow, J. Robertson, R. Smyth, P. Little and R. Kirk. Properties to Presbytery


The erection of the manse began in 1854. Stone was raised and carted to the site by free labour.

Building was done as funds were available and it was eventually completed in 1876. The Rev. R. Ferguson, then resigned his Salisbury charge and took up residence in the new manse.

At a November meeting of Presbytery in 1875, Mr. J. Robertson reported that he had set aside some land (17 acres) for a Glebe, and asked for advice as to whom this land and the site for a church, previously given, should be conveyed.

In 1894 the Golden Grove Church properties were conveyed to Presbytery.

Church Furnishings

The Robertson Family had their own, closed pew, with a small door, with latch, on the right-hand side as you enter the church. There were two bench seats, facing each other ? not very comfortable! They had carried on the tradition of pew?rents, or sittings, from their past experiences. The Robertson Pew was dismantled in 1980 as a part of alterations to the church Sanctuary to provide extra seating. The panels from the dismantled pew were used to construct the ?Robertson Memorial Pulpit? which stands remains in the church today.

Financial Giving in the church

At the turn of the century it was reported that 46 sittings, at 20 shillings per year, called pew-rents, at the church were taken, the fee for each sitting payable quarterly. This relieved the financial strain on the church and made it possible for the treasurer to pay the minister?s stipend in full each quarter, instead of being behind at the end of the year.

In 1917, at the suggestion of the Presbyterian Assembly, in an effort to solve its financial problems, the church introduced the envelope system of giving.

Golden Grove Presbyterian Church ? Photo of the Choir (c. 1900) On the occasion of the return from England of Miss Clark, Church Organist.

Church Bell and other fittings

The Church Bell given by the Gawler Presbyterian Church is used to herald the commencement of worship services.

In 1973 a Memorial Lectern and Bible were placed in the Church in memory of Mr. Grove S. Tilley, who for many years had been an active elder and had rendered stirling service to the Church.

In the winter of 1974 four gas heaters were installed ? two in the church, one in the hall and the other in the creche. The same year, velvet curtains, a Communion Table and carpeting for entrance and aisles further enhanced the church interior.

In 1976 a Baptismal Font in similar design and wood to the Memorial Lectern was placed in the Church and a Conn Electronic Organ replaced the pedal organ, which had faithfully served the Church for many years. A Display Cabinet in memory of Mrs. Eva Isabel Crouch is in the entrance to the Church Hall and the original Bible used in the early days can be seen on display.
A Communion Table Fontal was dedicated in memory of Cath McKechnie?s father, in 1983.

Blue Cushions to match existing furnishings were a gift in 1985 and these have added greatly to the decor of the Church and congregational comfort.

Presbyterian Ministers


First Minister

Rev. James Rankin Ferguson

In May, 1866, Presbytery, at the request of the congregation, arranged for the Reverend James Rankin Ferguson, a Congregational Minister, at Salisbury, to supply services for Golden Grove in addition to his Salisbury pastorate. The appointment was for 12 months on a stipend of ?100 per year.

It continued for 19 years, until 1885, when Mr Ferguson resigned because of ill health.

The Reverend James Rankin Ferguson then resigned his Salisbury Congregational charge and took up residence in the new manse, situated on the northern side of Crouch Road East, but no longer exists.

The Presbytery of South Australia created Golden Grove as a Charge in February, 1869. In May, 1870 the first two elders were elected and ordained, Messrs J. Robertson and D. Thompson, and Rev. J Lyall became the Interim Moderator of the Session.

Interim Ministers (1885-1975)

1885 – 1892
From 1885 to 1892 Mr Henry J Congreve, editor of the Gawler ?Bunyip? combined Golden Grove with his Smithfield pastorate. He drove to Golden Grove for the morning service, and on the return afternoon trip held a church service at Smithfield. For these services he received ?1 weekly.

He had worked with the Aboriginals on Eyre Peninsula, where he acted as a doctor, as he had had some training in Scotland, in order to tend to their maladies. He learned some Aboriginal languages, but later lost his written records trying to cross the Murray River, in a bark canoe.

1894 ? 1904
There was a growing need for a resident minister in the Golden Grove district. A letter forwarded to Presbytery asked for a minister to be established at the Manse at a cost of ?100 per year. In 1894 Mr James Anderson, a student, was appointed by the Home Mission Committee to take charge of the work. In January 1904 he transferred to the Monarto-Murray Bridge district.

1904 ? 1906
Mr Henry (Harry) J White, a Home Missionary, was then put in charge.

New members were added to the Church, and a mid-week Bible Class, as well as a preaching place at Yatala Vale, was established.

In mid-year 1904 the congregation provided Mr White, the pastor, with a horse and sulky for ?the work of the Minister only?. Several years later the financial burden of feeding the horse was so great that Mr White applied to the Board of Management for financial assistance. After solemn deliberations on the subject of horse feeding: ?The Committee felt that under the present financial strain they could not see their way to incur the additional expense of supplying chaff for the missionary?s horse.? There is no record of the horse?s reaction to this minute!

Mr R Willox Lyon, student, also preached monthly Sunday services at Yatala Vale, 4 miles south of Golden Grove, and regularly at Gawler blocks and Smithfield

1909 ? 1911
Rev. J W Rankine

1912 ?1914
Mr Robert Campbell

1916 ?1917
Mr R P Simons

1917 ? 1948
The charge became a preaching place of Prospect Presbyterian Church, and was served by Home Missionaries, under the Ministry of a Probationer from the Baptist Church, the Rev. Duncan MacDiarmid.

1948 ? 1965
Golden Grove came under St Peters Presbyterian Charge.

1948 ? 1958
Rev. Dr. Munro Ford, pastoral care of St Peters ? Golden Grove

1959 ? 1962
Rev. James B Hartshorn, pastoral charge, St Peters ? Golden Grove

Dr. Edward G Gibson, Principal of Adelaide Bible Institute Inc, of Mt Breckan, Victor Harbour, conducted services at Golden Grove

1963 ? 1964
Rev. D L Belcher, Mornington Island, Qld; for St Peters ? Golden Grove pastoral charge

Mr Fred Champion offered temporary supply to Golden Grove

1965 ? 1975
The Church at Golden Grove came under the guidance of Scots Presbyterian Church Adelaide

1960 ? 1972
The Rev. David Hodges, Rev. Don Marks, and the Rev. Ian Tanner (later the First Moderator of the Uniting Church in South Australia, on inauguration in 1977) assisted the Golden Grove congregation.

Elders inducted

Golden Grove was deeply indebted to the Rev. Rod Jepsen, Associate Minister at Scots Church, who assisted the congregation on one day per week, and instituted the Pastoral Care Committee. The Rev. Baldwin Van der Linden, and also the Rev. John Hughes, [Chaplain to the Prisons, and part-time Ministry in 1975] who ministered to the congregation over the years, were also acknowledged.

Second Minister in 120 years

Golden Grove became an independent pastorate, with the appointment of the Rev. Brian Ball, from the Presbyterian Christ Church in Thailand, as the first ordained Presbyterian Minister inducted into the charge in the 120 year history of the church.

Inauguration of the Uniting Church

The culmination of many years of discussion and planning within the Congregational, Methodist and Presbyterian churches in Australia came to fruition in June, 1977. The birth of the Uniting Church in Australia was ushered in, on 22nd June, 1977, through a televised service, from the Sydney Town Hall.

Locally, a combined service involving Tea Tree Gully / Hope Valley, Houghton / Paracombe, Modbury / Para Vista and Golden Grove Parishes was held at Karadinga, the YMCA building at Modbury. Both the Rev. Brian Ball and the Rev. Ian Moulton presided at this event. A token of the occasion was issued to most members of the combined congregations.

Uniting Church Ministers

Rev. Lloyd James Kerley1985-1990
Rev. Stephen Partington1990-1994
Rev. Dr. G. Robert Iles1994-2010
Rev. David Hoffman2010-2017
Rev. Jonathan Button2017-present

More information

Additional information concerning the long history of the church can be found in hardcopy format (documents, photographs, etc) in the Church office. Please contact the church for more information.