St Columba’s Church 90th anniversary and closing service

Today I had the privilege of attending the final service and 90th anniversary celebrations at St. Columba’s Uniting Church in Balwyn. The turnout was fantastic, with people packing the church for the service and the rear hall afterwards for morning tea.

St. Columba’s is one of six Uniting Church properties in Boroondara that have been sold, with five out of the total six being in my ward (Maranoa Ward). These are:

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  • St Columba’s church, hall, tennis courts & kindergarten (37 Banool Road, Balwyn VIC 3103)
  • St Columba’s adjacent dwelling (25 Banool Road, Balwyn VIC 3103)
  • Trinity Uniting Church, hall & dwelling (172 Doncaster Road, 47 Sutton Street & 49 Sutton Street, Balwyn North VIC 3104)


The other Uniting Church property in Boroondara that has been sold are the tennis courts at 20A Broughton Road. A full list may be obtained on the Uniting Church website here.

It was a joyous occasion to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the congregation, but also a melancholy one for the closure of the church. Many people of all ages and locations attended, including past ministers, congregation members and Sunday school students. St Columba’s has a rich and vibrant history, including being the first in its parish to appoint a female minister, the operation of a hugely popular Sunday school and the St Columba’s Kindergarten.

Afterwards I spoke with committee members, ministers and other attendees, with some having travelled long distances to be there today. While there was understandable grief and anger with what has occurred, many were looking forward to the future and its opportunities for positive change and renewal.

There was discussion about the future of the many community groups who have used the church facilities for many years. The sale of the church and its buildings is not just a loss for the congregation, but a loss for the wider community. The benefit to the local area was translated through the provision of valuable space for groups to be able to carry out their work, from Scottish dancing to a women’s choir. The benefits from these activities extended far beyond the immediate congregation, and the church’s loss will be felt by many.

Thanks must go to the church’s committee members, ministers and congregation members for their hard work and dedication over the years to provide such valuable services to the community. While I am not religious nor a churchgoer myself, it is easy to see how much this hidden suburban church has meant to people and what a difference it has made to hundreds of people’s lives. I wish all the very best for the future.


Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Chris Nelsonreply
28 April, 2014 at 3:13 pm

Hi Philip,
Thank you for your blog and thank you for attending the service yesaterday. I was there also and, unfortunately, didn’t get a chance to have a chat. My parents joined St Columba’s in the 1950’s after the present church was built and became part of the (to use a modent term) “infrastructure” of the parish for the remainder of their lives.
The services celebrating their lives and the wedding of my youngest daughter were also performed in the church.
I attended from around 3 years of age (1954) until after I moved to Nunawading in 1976.
It was a very moving service and I was pleased to see photos including both of my parents on display in the Fellowship and Yule rooms yesterday.
A very interesting and moving way to celebrate the work of the Church and to mourn its demise.

Helen Martinreply
8 July, 2014 at 6:10 pm

Philip, thank you for attending our Anniversary and Closure Service which was so meaningful for many people, as you witnessed. Your kind words exactly expressed the feelings of those who held St Columba’s in their hearts and for whom change has been difficult to embrace…..but embracing it they are! St Columba had to sail away from the familiar and this ‘hidden suburban church’ chose to celebrate his determination and creative spirit. That spirit continues with the members of the dispersing congregation.

Andreew Walmsleyreply
18 August, 2015 at 10:54 pm

i recall Sunday school and Eater picnics in the Danenongs with such families as the Carrington’s,, Davison;s, Rev Healey, the Swinglers. and Dr Nelson, not to mention the Balwyn Uniting Cricket Club at Macleay Park

With so much history and fellowship it is a shame that the Uniting Church had to redeem their financial mismanagement by selling out to the highest bidder. Amen

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