The History of St Luke's, Yea
For 150 years St Luke’s has overlooked the township of Yea, supporting locals through two world wars, the more recent conflicts and the devastation of floods and bushfires. St Luke's has been there with you for marriage services, christenings and deaths. .
But, when and how did it all start?
The worship of Christ had been the subject of anxious consideration by many of the residents of the Muddy Creek District (the original name for the Yea River!). Owing to the somewhat limited population and the difficulty in obtaining ordained clergy of any Evangelical Denomination nothing was done for many years. However, in January 1857 arrangements were entered into with Mr Ashe, a lay reader of the Church of England. The agreement was for Mr Ashe to occupy the Muddy Creek District and to preach at the different stations on the Upper Goulburn.
Unfortunately, many of the St Luke's Vestry records have been lost. But thankfully, some of the original documents and archives of the foundation of the Protestant Church in Yea have been preserved. These show an initial co-operation in building a church on gifted land for the “Propagation of Evangelical Christianity without respect to the minor differences existing among the Protestant Evangelical Churches”. Thus the first wooden Parsonage and Church in one was built to accommodate Mr Ashe and his family.
After this many preachers from various denominations followed, however, according to a letter Mrs Ker wrote to her son Charles people wanted a 'decided church' (sic) and the Presbyterians then bought a brick church. This church had originally been built by a Mrs Miller to become a Baptist church, but this choice proved unpopular as Baptists require their people to be immersed! It is recorded that Mr William Ker said to his wife Mrs Anna Maria Ker “build the English Church” a large order, but she was delighted by the challenge.
There were many gifts and each £100 that was raised was matched by a like amount of £100 from State Aid. Although assisted by her sister, friends and neighbours, it took another six years of fundraising before the building of the present St Luke's Church was commenced. It was completed four months later for a cost of £600 plus £200 for essential furnishings. Thanks to the State Aid contribution of the £ for £ support, St Luke’s Church of England was opened free of debt in 1868. Furnishings of the Church were completed by the generosity of E S Purcell and family, who gave the font, the lectern, lamps, prayer desk, carpeting and fencing.