The seeds of the Calvary congregation were sown back in 1958 when a preaching place was established in Briar Hill by a tiny group of dedicated worshippers.
The seeds of the Calvary congregation were sown back in 1958 when a preaching place was established in Briar Hill by a tiny group of dedicated worshippers. Services were conducted twice monthly in the RSL Hall by Pastor Samuel Simpfendorfer from St Mark’s in Hotham Street, East Melbourne, and the average attendance was ten people. From 1960 onwards, Pastor Paul Stolz provided ministry to this small group; services moved to the Anglers’ Hall in Para Road, Briar Hill, in 1967. By the time Pastor Stolz retired in October 1970, membership of the fledgling group had increased to about 30. At this point, the worship centre was realigned with the Doncaster congregation under the spiritual guidance of Pastor Paul Zweck, who arranged for services to be held in St Paul’s Anglican Church in Montmorency in 1972.
Given the pressure of the growing number of worshippers, it was decided a separate congregation was required, and on 12 August 1973, the Calvary congregation came into existence as a separate entity. By the end of 1973, one acre of land had been purchased in Greensborough. Towards the end of 1974, a congregational member purchased a further 3½ acres on the corner of Diamond Creek and Oldstead Roads, and this was ultimately selected as the location for a new church, to be built on one acre of the block. With the generous donations by members and the LCA District, the entire 3½-acre site was purchased by the congregation.
After a building permit was granted in December 1976, construction of a new church building commenced in February the following year. After approximately 20 months of toil, some 3,000 hours of voluntary labour and $45,000 raised from within the congregation, the building was completed. On 29 October 1978, the church was dedicated, with Pastor Ed Koch presiding.
Several years later, in 1982, Pastor Koch accepted a call elsewhere, and the congregation was strong enough to consider calling its own full-time pastor. Pastor Graham Zweck accepted the invitation and was installed as our first resident pastor on 4 September 1983.
In preparation for the call, discussions had commenced in June 1982 for the construction of a manse. In October of that year, a site was selected, and construction commenced in February 1983. The manse was completed in August and dedicated on 4 September, just in time for the installation of our new pastor!
Since that time, we have had three more pastors serve us: Pastor Stephen Pietsch, Pastor Brett Kennett and Pastor Tim Stringer. We have also hosted two vicars, Adam Eime and Anthony Price.
Already in the early 1980s, bigger plans were in the mind of the congregation, and consideration was given to the expansion of the church amenity. Calvary committed to a major development in the late 1980s, adding more facilities to house a growing congregation, with a larger worship area and separate Sunday school rooms.
With so much vacant land and fewer able-bodied members to keep up the mowing, the congregation became restless again during the 1990s. A major feasibility study was undertaken to investigate the possibility of setting up a school. Because the idea did not proceed, the land remained unused. Revisiting the vision of some founding members to establish an elderly citizens’ rest home, thoughts turned to a retirement village as a way to share the abundant land.
This was a massive undertaking for the congregation. The overall church plant upgrade and construction of the village was a $6-million project undertaken over approximately 7 years. A land swap was negotiated with a neighbour to convert our irregularly shaped parcel of land into a useable rectangle. Following the land swap and obtaining planning approval, we commenced the project in earnest in 1999. At the peak of the construction phase of the village, it was time to press ahead with the church building upgrade. During this time of upheaval, the congregation relocated to the nearby Churinga Chapel.
The dedication service for the renovated church and the new village was a joyous time. The congregation returned to its home as you see it today. The hub of our church social life is the large community hall, which we share with the village residents and is used regularly by various groups from the local community. Combined with the retirement village, it is certainly fulfilling the vision of those early members and adds a vibrant, stimulating element to our congregation’s ability to fulfil its mission.