Present Church

The first formal step to establishing the present church building was in 1872. Mr John Donaldson, son of Mr James Donaldson, donated a quarter acre of land for a new church. The Church records notePulpit Bible fly leafFly leaf of the original Pulpit Bible (Footnote 9) that the Deed of Conveyance cost £8.18.6 (about $890 today)

Subscriptions for the new church of £353.19.0 (about $39,000) were collected from the congregation and friends in 1877. These ranged from 5 shillings to 50 pounds (about $30 to $5,500 today), the larger amounts being donated by John Bell, James Donaldson, John Donaldson and James Thomson.(A good indication not only of their faith but of their success as farmers on the area's rich black soil). The building was designed by the architect Mr Charles Maplestone. It was built in 1878 by Mr Self using hand-made bricks and a slate roof. A Celtic Cross surmounted the front gable.

It was consecrated by Rev A D Kinninmont at a special service held on 9 June 1878.

Mr Woiwod records “Kangaroo Ground was entering its phase of respectability. Already, most of its Scottish born pioneers of the early years had passed away. Already, a smart new school and public hall stood in line above the church. Above that again was the hotel in the front parlour of which the Shire of Eltham met. Next to it, within a year, would appear brick offices built by Donaldson to house the district’s proud newspaper, the Evelyn Observer; further along were a blacksmith’s shop and a house or two. Opposite the church would soon appear James Burn’s commodious General Store. Kangaroo Ground was finally attaining true village status.”

At first the grounds of the Church were unfenced. Later, a neat picket fence was added to the front with post and rail to the other three sides. Pine trees were planted within the fence to provide shade and shelter for the congregation and its horses. In 1912 three of the pine trees were cut down and sold to the Hurstbridge Sawmillers “for 1/- per 100 feet super”. The last of the pine trees were sold to the Hurstbridge Sawmillers in 1936 to pay for new fencing. 

The only change to the design of the present building was the addition of a timber vestry in 1892. A stable (since demolished) was built in the grounds in 1886 at a cost of £4 (about $458 today) as many people rode to church or came in jinkers or buggies and shelter was needed for the vehicles.

The Minister travelled by coach from Heidelberg at a cost of 8/- (about $46 today).

9. The writing on the flyleaf in the original pulpit Bible is faded and the page is discoloured but the endorsement can still be read: "Presented to the Kangaroo Ground Church Together with the Pulpit Cushion & Psalm Book by the Female Members & Adherents of the Congregation February 1871". (The words "Psalm Book" must have been an afterthought as they are written in a smaller size.) This Bible was used well before the present Church was built.