Gospelling through the ages

The first Anglican church in the upper mountains was built at Mount Victoria in 1874-5 as an outlier of St John’s at Hartley. The Rev Edward Symonds came to Blackheath to minister, first from the rectory there around 1880 and then in the new St Aidan’s, opened in 1884.
The opening of Katoomba College, a boarding school, by John Fletcher in 1884 created an impetus for Anglican services to be conducted in Katoomba and the College’s main schoolroom was used for regular Sunday services in 1884-5. These were conducted by Mr Symonds, driving over from Blackheath in his buggy.
The congregation at Katoomba, with Symonds’ encouragement, built the first St Hilda’s in Katoomba Street in 1885. Symonds preached the first sermon in the simple weatherboard church on November 8 1885.
St Hilda’s was at first part of Blackheath Anglican parish but had its own resident curate. The first of these curates was the Rev Clifford Power, an eccentric bachelor who slept in the church vestry until he left in 1891. A rectory was built for his successor, the Rev John McLean, who became the first rector when Katoomba was made an independent parish in 1900. The congregation soon outgrew the 1885 church and plans were made for the present building.
Since then God has continued to bless the work of the gospel through the many ups and downs that ministry is. Today we thank God for his faithfulness over all those years and we look forward to the part we play at this point in history to declare the great love of God to our community and beyond.

Ray Robinson

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