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On Sunday 5th May over 110 people gathered from the local community and around the Diocese to celebrate the rededication of St Edmund’s Hall, Gunning, and to celebrate over 180 years of ministry in the district. Bishop Mark Short preached a magnificent sermon and called for all to rededicate themselves to the service of Christ. Later, he led in the rededication of the renovated hall to the glory of God and the service of the community.

From the beginning of ministry in Gunning, willing and able volunteers have been the hallmark of the Parish. On 31st March 1838 the Reverend Robert Cartwright began an 18-year voluntary ministry with a licence which read, ‘Minister of the District of Yass, the entire County of Murray, and the western division of the County of King’. Some 35 years later, the church of St Edmund was finished and consecrated. The chancel and the porch were added in 1912 and 1926 respectively.

Since Cartwright’s great start, at least 48 ordained ministers have held the licence as Rector, Priest-in-Charge, Locum or local Minister. Currently the Reverends Haydn Swinbourn and Vicki Hancock continue the tradition. Seven past Rectors and several other former clergy family representatives were present on the day.

Over the past 180 years the Parish boundaries have changed. Today St Edmund’s is an independent centre in the Cartwright Mission District. Plaques around the church and grounds bear testament to the faithful lives and work of parishioners, as well as the tragic loss of life in war time. The Service Register of 19th December 1915 records a service was conducted at 11.00am, ‘Military – March of Kangaroos’.

Several significant building projects have been undertaken including St Edmund’s church; the ‘Parsonage’ (1873), now Rectory and its restoration in 1954, and of course the Hall construction in 1952.

Over the past three years, under the guidance of Mrs Lesley Johnson, Vestry Chair, with the support of many in the Diocesan Registry, a plan was developed and brought to fruit to renovate and extend the hall. With care and generosity of Vanessa Bell (Project Manager), Karina Smith (Draftsperson), and Jason Cooper (Builder), a magnificent result has been achieved. The hall has state-of-the-art toilets and kitchen as well as providing a flexible hall/meeting space.

The vision of the current Vestry is that the Church and Hall are for the promotion of the Gospel and the support of the Gunning community.

The hall was put to the test after the dedication with a ‘cracking’ morning tea. People from throughout the community continued to chat and remember well into the afternoon. A great day and a tremendous reminder of the providence and care of our great God.

‘Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.’ Romans 13:8

by Reverend Haydn Swinbourn