Local Churches: Past and Present

How did towns and suburbs form from small settlements? One might think that it starts with a few settlers congregating within close vicinity near to fertile grazing land, fresh water and possibly transportation. A good environment which includes clean water and a favourable climate for growing crops and agriculture are certainly essential. While these elements meet the need for immediate food and shelter for individual family groups, there must have been another factor that enabled small settlements to transform into towns and ultimately cities.

That factor was strong social organisation. Social organisation is key for the formation of a successful town or city. A strong sense of social organisation aids communities to come together and work collectively in times of need, and it allows people to develop a variety of associations to assist in the future development.

How do you establish social structure? The method to hand for our early European settlers was religion and hence the establishment of a place of worship and ultimately the building of churches occurred. These events usually took place early within most early settlements. The early pioneers across the Altona, Laverton and Newport area identified this very need and were therefore quick in establishing these institutions that suited their beliefs. When you read about the early history of any town in Australia it will be linked very closely with the establishment of churches.

The indigenous peoples of the local area had similar traditions in that as they would move from area to area to seek food and water, they would also spend a certain portion of their day passing down the traditions of their land, tales of their ancestors and of their spiritual beliefs by telling stories to the younger generations of their clans. These stories were spiritual as well as historical and formed the basis of the indigenous social organisation. They did not need buildings to worship in, as the European settlers did, because they felt one with the land then everywhere was a place to give thanks. But they did have certain locations across their lands that they held as being more sacred.

The menu on the right-hand side of this page will open pages detailing a brief history of a number of these churches.