Bencubbin remembers its pioneers

A very significant Service took place in St Mark’s Anglican/Bencubbin Uniting Church on Thursday 1 November, when thirty locals and visitors were welcomed at the entrance by church Elder, Tony Gillett, to remember our pioneers.

Jeanette Beagley had ensured the church was prepared and ready for the occasion by adding a bowl of beautiful fresh roses on the christening font to complement the glistening brassware and flowers on the altar.

The gathering celebrated and remembered the pioneers who had used their gifts to encourage and support the spiritual requirements of settlers, and to establish churches as meeting and worshipping places.

In recognition of these pioneers, family members donated useful gifts to the church in the form of a brass Bible stand, candlesticks, communion and offertory plates, vases and a handcrafted christening font made by cabinetmaker, Arnold Ibbotson. It was therefore devastating to local parishioners when many of these were surreptitiously removed.

After twelve years of angst and sadness, the local members of the combined church were overjoyed to welcome most of the items home. Gratitude was expressed to the Moora parishioners for their assistance.

Community Minister, Valda Knott, was present to rededicate the brass gifts originally donated by the Breakell and Wren families, and also a new beautiful artificial flower arrangement created by Annette Gillett, donated on behalf of the Gillett family in honour of their parents.

It was also an appropriate occasion to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the opening of the combined St Mark’s Anglican/Uniting Church and a brief account was given by Valda. The Breakell family reported that the original St Mark’s Anglican Church was the first church in Bencubbin.

For early residents, faith played a very important part in their lives. Eventually, the years took their toll on both wooden churches, and parishioners from both
joined forces to build a combined church – a United Church – ahead of the main movement in WA.

Barbara Dinnie (nee Gillett), a Lay Preacher for over 60 years, was happy to return to the community where she began conducting services in the 1950s under the tutorage, support and encouragement of Rev Joe Atkinson and his wife Jean, and later Rev Jim Lewis. As Barbara opened the service we rejoiced in the season of good crops and beautiful wildflowers.

We gave thanks for the gathering of people who had returned for the celebration, many travelling from a wide area. The Shire of Mount Marshall was represented by the Deputy Shire President, Nick Gillett, who welcomed the visitors and congratulated all present on the 50th Anniversary of the beautiful church building which has been so beneficial to the district during those years.

During the service, stories were shared of Bencubbin pioneers who contributed significantly to the Anglican, Congregational and Uniting Churches, and appreciation was expressed for Marj Hogan and others who worshipped together through the years. Thanks were offered to Valda Knott for serving as the local Community Minister for 11 years, prior to retiring to the cafe for an enjoyable lunch as guests of the Central Wheatbelt Council.

Visitors from Perth, Fremantle, South Yunderup, Buntine, Trayning, Mukinbudin and Yorkrakine were made to feel welcome by local residents. It was especially gratifying to have Alice Davies, Jack and Jean Clough present – all 92 year olds – who have been residents of Bencubbin for all of those years.

Following lunch, most people drove to the Recreation Centre to be shown the new building by Shire Development Officer, Olivia Granich. Afternoon tea was then served and the 50th Anniversary Chocolate Beetroot Cake was cut and enjoyed along with other sweet treats.

As people departed, it was with memories of a very rewarding and especially joyous day, with a few tears of relief and happiness shed, but remembering and giving thanks for parents, grandparents, family and community members who had guided our spiritual lives and who had gifted so much to the community and churches of Bencubbin.

Barbara Dinnie

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