Chapter 6

The Birth of the Uniting Church and the Deterioration of the Wesleyan Chapel: 1978 to 2002

Window relief.

After the formation of the Uniting Church in Australia in June 1977 when many Methodist, Congregationalist and Presbyterian churches merged, the Glen Iris Methodists relocated in October 1978 to what had been the Presbyterian church on the corner of High Street and Allison Avenue (the buildings being seen to be in better repair). This left the Glen Iris Road property vacant. During the 1980s the 1865 building was used weekly as a used clothes sorting depot by volunteers working for Kildonan Homes, a community service and mission arm of the Uniting Church. In the early 1990s it was briefly used as a storage facility by a community group.

When the Hartwell and the Glen Iris Uniting Church congregations joined on January 1st, 2000, a Vision and Mission Statement was developed which determined that a new regional church and community complex be developed at 200 Glen Iris Road to serve community and church needs. Because of the plan to include special facilities for Glen Iris Primary School and a kindergarten for the local district, building space was at a premium. As all the buildings on the site were extremely dilapidated, it was decided to demolish to provide the greatest flexibility. The congregation was cognisant of the great significance of this land as the historic centre of early Glen Iris, and of a sense of continuity in rebuilding there.

Chapter 7

Celebrating the Past and the Future: 2002 to 2007

After a protracted process with the City of Booroondara over the merits of retaining the Wesleyan Chapel, during which a Heritage Overlay was placed on the chapel, a compromise was reached. The restored southern end of the chapel would be integrated into the new centre, and an extensive pictorial record would be kept of the original building, including a plaque depicting its age and original proportions. Consequently, in 2006 the northern half was demolished and the construction of the new centre began. On April 28th 2007 the Opening Ceremony was held and the former Glen Iris Hartwell congregation was renamed the Glen Iris Road Uniting Church.

200 Glen Iris Road, Glen Iris is now home to the Church and Community Centre, the new Uniting Church Kindergarten, and a multi-purpose suite of rooms leased to the Glen Iris Primary School. Church services are currently held in the hall until funds can be raised to proceed with Stage Two, the construction of the worship space. The concrete slab has been poured in anticipation at the north east corner of the block. The retained portion of the chapel, now called the Wesleyan Room, is currently, albeit temporarily, set up as a chapel for the enjoyment of the local community.

It is the Glen Iris Road Uniting Church’s hope that their new Church and Community Centre will foster the sense of continuity and connectedness with the living history of this place.

Front of the chapel. Rear of the chapel.