Every family has stories to tell: stories about where they came from. Why they are where they are. Why they do things the way they do.
Our Aboriginal sisters and brothers call these stories dream time stories because they are usually very old stories, stories that began before you and I knew about them.
This page will try to share some stories about this family we belong to-the family called the Tuggeranong Uniting Church.
Where did it come from? Why is it here? How come we do the things we do?
About 50 years ago. Canberra had been built and lots of people lived in the suburbs around Civic and in the north of Canberra. But down here in the Tuggeranong Valley there were a couple of farms, some sheep, lots of kangaroos and some dirt tracks. There were very few aboriginal people living here, Most had moved on when the settlers and farmers came.
Do you know what Tuggeranong means? It means a cold windy plain. In about 1969 the government decided it was time people moved into this part of Canberra. So roads were built, schools were built – schools like Mount Neighbour, Village Creek, Taylor and Urambi – and houses were built. By 1974, hundreds of houses were being built and that means there were lots of people starting to come in to the district. Lots of young mums and dads with young families. The homes started up around Kambah and Wanniassa at first. There were so many babies being born, the place got the name “Nappy Valley”.
Some of the people who came wanted to meet with other people who were Christians – people who loved Jesus and wanted to follow his way. A few people gathered at Mt Neighbour School in Kambah in Feb 1975 and began a church – that is a group of people who wanted to worship God together. In 1975 they became known as the Cooperating Churches of Kambah because the first people who came from different churches… At first there were only about six to ten families.
Anyway, more and more came to live in the district, so by 1976, this little group of people began to grow and started conducting services in Village Creek Primary School (8.00am), Urambi Primary School (9.20am) and at Mt Neighbour Primary School (11.00am). Soon after, services were started at Wanniassa Primary School. At the time the Uniting Church came into being, our church had FOUR worshipping communities.
Just like in many families, things happen and in 1977, the Anglican members of this group of churches left. (Their bishop wanted them to have their own separate identity.) The rest stayed together and in June that same year 1977, they became Kambah-Wanniassa Uniting Church.
After the changes and people leaving, there was still a very large group of people meeting at Urambi Primary School called Kambah Wanniassa UC – 100 adults and 120 children Wow! That meant that eventually they had to have two services on a Sunday morning instead of one!
Tuggeranong was rapidly expanding beyond the initial settlements in Kambah and Wanniassa – Monash, Gowrie Chisholm, Gilmore etc. Along with this growth we started a new worshipping group at Gowrie.
Remember these church services with all these people and children were meeting in school halls. Many people thought that was not the best way to do things…
People began to dream about having just one place to go and having just one place to call their church and as a centre for worship and outreach.
People got together and began to make plans and raise lots of money to build a church building. The building that we are now in began in 1987 and came into use in April 1988. The people from Gowrie and Urambi came together to call this place their home.
Here we are today….
Over 30 years later, we are enjoying the fruits of all their work.
And what a great place it is for Tuggeranong UC to call home.
It is just right for all the things we do: we worship God here together in many different ways; we help each other be Jesus followers, we help others through Red Dove Preloved and the Karralika ministry, we have groups to grow our faith, the Girls’ Brigade, people getting together for craft and sewing. It is a wonderful place to learn, worship and form friendships with others. And when this church was first built no one would have even dreamed there would be a neighbourhood garden out the back to reach out to our community.
We have to say thank you to God for all we have and for the dreams and stories of many people who helped along the way so we could be here today.