Centenary Celebrations and restoration of the church bell & tower.
St Silas’ Church of England Gembrook celebrated the centenary of its founding in 2005.
It was built in 1905 by Fred Dyson and Eddie Smith. The materials were bought from James Moore, Timber Merchants and Importers of City Road, South Melbourne for £77-6-0. The materials included five gothic headed windows with Muranese glass.
The church is situated in a prominent position in the Main Street of Gembrook diagonally opposite the community centre and children’s playground. Family descendants of the two builders of the church still live in Gembrook and were involved in the Centenary celebrations
Mr Bill (EAC) Russell was responsible for the building of the bell tower and the story of its origin is fascinating in terms of local history. On a particular occasion Bill Russell with his son aged 17. were lost at sea all night in a small boat in Port Phillip Bay. In gratitude for their survival and rescue he pledged to donate a bell and tower to his local church, St Silas.
The wooden exterior of the church was bricked to assist in the preservation of the building in the early 1960’s. Fortunately most of the interior of the church still remains in its original state, including the wooden beams, wooden beams, wooden lining and Muranese glass.
After the building of an Anglican church in Cockatoo in was decided to sell St Silas church. So Judy Parker bought the church in March 1944 with the purpose of reinstating Anglican services in the community. Judy was able to maintain within the church all the original items of furniture donated by the early families of Gembrook. These include the pulpit which was a gift from the Union Church in 1905; the altar which was a thank offering for peace and a memorial to all who served in the Second World War; the Bishops chair was a gift of the Ladies Guild in 1945; the chalice and paten were given in memory of Charlie Begg; the christening ewer in memory of the death of a baby in the Russell family; the processional cross was a gift from the King family and the font (which was sculptured from limestone in 1881) was donated by the Lorenz/Beer/ Tucker families.
In 1995 a serious theft took place at the church and a number of pews and the bell was stolen.
To celebrate the centenary of St Silas’ the bell tower was restored by engineer Bruno Bartosch and artist Tom Marrow – members of the congregation. Generous funds were made available from the Cardinia Heritage Grant Scheme, an initiative of Cardinia Shire Council established to assist the conservation of public heritage places within the shire.
The new bell was bought by Judy Parker from a Nepalese town of Patan in memory of her many years running a trekking business in the Himalayas, where beautiful bells adorn the shrines in every village.
On Saturday October 1st 2005 following the celebration of the Eucharist the Tower was re-dedicated with its new Bell.