Seaforth Uniting 50 Years





50 Years



Seaforth Presbyterian 1935-19481935-1948

This building was the Provisional School from 1935-1948. It was shifted to the present church site on 6th May 1949.

Prior to that time, Church Services and Sunday School were held under the house of Mr and Mrs Archbold at 43 Acacia Avenue, Seaforth.

Seaforth Presbyterian 19611961

Taken on the day the new church was opened in May 1961 by Reverend Arthur Trafford Walker.

The timber used in the new church was cut (by hand), donated, and milled locally.

The mango tree on the right was removed in 2010.

Seaforth Uniting 20112011

There aren’t any noticeable changes to the original building except for a covered area at the rear of the church.

A toilet block was built in the early 1990’s.

There is also a well maintained garden bed at the rear boundary, and also at the front of the church.


History of the Seaforth Uniting Church

In 1948, the Seaforth Uniting Church began its life as the Seaforth Presbyterian Church.

Early financial records indicate that the following money was donated by local church members in order to acquire a building and resources so that regular church services could be held..

These donations are recorded: Mr Archbold £5, Mr Sorensen £5, Mr W Higham £1, Mr C Ford £1/1/-, Mr J Griffiths £1, Mr A Briscke £1, Mr E Pill £1/1/-, Mr G Cameron £1. A total of £16/2/-.

In 1948, the ladies guild also collected/raised a total of 18/-. Mrs Archbold, Mrs Heel, Mrs Sorensen, Mrs Higham, Mrs Neilsen, Mrs Sheldon, Mrs Hutchinson, Mrs Wallace and Miss Sheldon contributed 2 shillings each.

Mary Archbold 1953Early Times

Mr & Mrs Archbold were very instrumental in the founding of the Seaforth Presbyterian Church and Sunday School. They were retired cane farmers from Newbury Junction.

May Archbold (at left) had also been a school teacher. They didn’t have any children but they were surrounded by nephews and nieces.

They were a very community minded couple and founded a number of other organisations in Seaforth including the CWA (Country Women’s Association) and the Seaforth Progress Association. They were involved in a number of other organisations for the betterment of the Seaforth area.

Initially, Church Services and Sunday School were conducted underneath their high block house at 43 Acacia Avenue. The house is still there today.

An application was made to the government for a block of land on which to build a church hall. At that time, the Lands Department was selling blocks of land in Palm Avenue and Prince Charles Avenue.


Early Times (continued)

The Catholic, Church of England and Presbyterian Churches and the C.W.A. were all granted blocks of land. Initially, the Presbyterian Church had four blocks with the intention to construct a church and youth camp. The blocks were all timbered. Government requirements stated that the blocks had to be cleared and fenced in a certain amount of time.

As there wasn’t an abundance of money, the old Seaforth Provisional School was the only building that could be acquired. Also, there was only sufficient funds to retain the front two blocks (facing Palm Avenue).

There isn’t any record of how much money was paid to purchase the building or how it was shifted from the school. There is a letter from the Presbyterian Youth in Mackay thanking Guild members and their husbands for clearing and fencing the blocks.

As well, records from the Ladies Guild minute book (16th June 1947 to 31st March 1948) showed that one function raised twenty pounds. Bearing in mind that the average weekly wage in 1948 was £4/12/2 compared with $570 in 2011, this means that function would have raised almost $2,500 today.

Many friends contributed money to enable the purchase of the pedal organ, forms to sit on and other necessities for Church Services and Sunday School. The organ was purchased from Mrs Linde of Laidley for £25 plus £2/7/6 railway freight, and 3/- for the money order. The original pedal organ was still in use for a long time after the present church was built. Keith Smith took it in to St Paul’s Hall in Mackay, so perhaps it is still around. It was replaced with an electric organ.

On 6th May 1949, the Provisional School building was moved to its new position in Seaforth. It was corrugated iron with no internal lining or ceiling.

Services were held at 2pm on a Sunday and were conducted by Reverend Trafford Walker. It was a very hot Summer! The seating forms are still in use today, as is a table (purchased for £2/10/-) and two chairs (£2/5/-) both of which were purchased in 1949.



Mr and Mrs Roy Bearham and their large family were regular attendees at church and Sunday School. In 1947, they bought Lone Pine farm and dairyed and grew fruit and vegetables as well. Mrs Bearham played the organ and also assisted with Sunday School until they sold their property and moved to Mackay in 1956. The farm was sold to Mr Frank Williams and later to Mr Frank Cowley. The Lone Pine tree was removed by the Main Roads Department when the Seaforth road was upgraded and bitumened.

Mr and Mrs Jolly were retired cane farmers who lived at the beach. Mr Jolly helped Mr Archbold and the Briscke brothers (George, Augie and Frank) at the regular working bees. They painted the inside and outside of the new church. Mrs Jolly became the organist after Mrs Bearham left. She continued to play after the new church was built.

Mrs Jarman was another organist who played for many years until ill health forced her into a nursing home. Mr and Mrs Jarman retired to Seaforth from Finch Hatton.

Mrs Bev Forsyth, owner of Seaforth Bus Service, replaced Mrs Jarman as the next organist. She continued until she moved to the Coningsby Nebia area after the bus company grew from one bus to several coaches. The business is now known as Mackay Transit Coaches.

Mrs Dolly Nitz then became the next organist and continued in that role for many years. She was a retired cane farmer from Sarina. Her mother, Mrs Higham and her sister, Mrs Sorensen were originally members of the Seaforth Guild.

Mrs Margaret Berry is our present organist and has been so for quite a few years. When Margaret is travelling, Dawn Fursman and Barbara Nillson are her fill-ins.



Keith and Eunice Smith bought Mr Gralton’s fruit and vegetable farm on Cape Hillsborough Road and moved there in June 1957. The farm was owned by original settlers, Jack and Andy Giles who sold to Mr Gralton.

Mr and Mrs Smith were both very involved with the St Paul’s Church in Mackay before they moved to the Seaforth area. They became very involved in the Seaforth Church and worked hard to support the elderly church goers.

Eunice and Keith SmithEunice assisted Mrs Archbold with Sunday School. On Sunday mornings, she would pick up children from the front gate at their homes and they would sit on the back of the tilly (no seat belts in those days). These children, as well as her own, included the Crowley, Cameron, Jarrett and the Desbois kids. After Sunday School, they would be dropped home. When Mrs Archbold became too old, Eunice became superintendent.

Keith and Eunice Smith became the mainstay of the church over many years; always willing and able to help out in so many ways. As their family grew up, they ventured on trips away. We would just carry on until they returned.

Keith was an elder in the church. His last big job was the construction of the present toilet block which he did with assistance from Rudy Leyk, a retired bricklayer from Ball Bay. Keith and Eunice’s son, Donald, also helped by providing machinery and labour to complete the job. Once again, lots of cake stalls were held to pay for this huge expense.

Unfortunately, Keith had a serious accident on his farm and passed away in March 1994. This left a huge gap in our congregation. In his memory, Keith’s sisters, Joyce and Beth, donated the collection plate with his name etched upon it. It is still in use in 2011.

Eunice remained very active in the Seaforth Church until she moved to Carlyle Gardens in Mackay and became involved with the North Mackay parish.



Mrs Margaret Eden was an early parish member. She and her husband, Charles, dairyed and grew fruit and vegetables on Cape Hillsborough Road at Seaforth Creek. Nick and Joan Said now own the property.

As Mrs Eden couldn’t drive, her husband would drive her to and from church. She died suddenly in 1958 after a massive heart attack. She had an insurance policy worth £800 which Charles donated to the church so that a new church could be built.

Stalls were being held to raise money for the new building but the area wasn’t very financial. Members of the congregation donated money and/or timber.

The timber for the church was cut by local farmers including the Smiths, Miers, Kippen, Desbois and Jack Giles (my apologies to anyone who I have missed). It was all cut by hand as there weren’t any chain saws in those days.

The timber was taken to the Seaforth Sawmill and cut by Arthur Warren. No money was exchanged – instead extra logs were given to Mr Warren in lieu of the milling costs. The Mackay Cedar floorboards went to a larger workshop in Mackay to be tongue and grooved.

The men who sawed and hauled the timber are all now deceased; the last one was Ray Desbois who died in September 2010.

Ernie Davison, a carpenter and a St Paul’s Church Elder built the church. He slept in the old church building. He was assisted by Mr Archbold, Mr Jolly and Keith Smith. The new church took some weeks to build.

Mr Archbold and Mr Jolly painted the inside of the church. Because it was such a great job, it didn’t require painting for many years (not until after 2000). It is thought that the outside was painted by a working bee of locals.


The New Church (continued)

Since then, the church has been painted by professional painters with the cost being covered by funds raised from the cake stalls that we conduct every election day. For many years, when the Ambulance Centre was the polling booth, these stalls were held under the trees opposite the Post Office Shop. The election day cake stalls still continue but are now held outside the Seaforth Community Hall which has become the polling booth.

It isn’t known how much the building cost. When Seaforth joined the North Mackay Home Mission a few years later, there was money owed to the WR Black Fund. Keith Smith canvassed local church members to finalise the loan.

The old church building (the Provisional School) was sold to the Griffiths and Worthington families. It was made into a boat shed and is still on their property.

Alex Grant, a retired funeral director, made the pulpit. The press was bought for £7/10/- in 1950. The flower stand was donated by Mrs Archbold. She also donated the christening font and bowl in memory of her husband, Robert Archbold.

Circa 1978

Circa 1978. L to R: Keith Smith, Eunice Smith, Rev. Evan Stenlake, Nora West, Marie Desbois, unknown, Joyce Cooper, unknown, Myrtle Sorensen, Muriel “Dolly” Nitz, Gwen Hall (at rear). Photo courtesy of Eunice Smith.



Reverend Arthur Trafford Walker was the minister at St Paul’s in the late 40’s to 50’s. A lot of progress was made during this time, including the purchase of land for future developments. He and his wife, Marcia, started Homefield, a home for the elderly.

His wife suffered ill health and died in Mackay before Reverend Walker became Moderator. As Moderator, he opened the new Seaforth Presbyterian Church in May, 1961.

Reverend Ross Nielsen was the minister for many years before retiring due to health reasons. He was instrumental in the construction of the Northside Church and opened the church while he was still ministering. He was replaced by Reverend Venetta Singh Lucas.

Reverend Ian Wilson was appointed in February 2000. He and his wife, Merlene, moved from Townsville. The induction service was on 22nd March 2000. They left in April 2009 to go to Southport.

There have been many ministers over the last 50 years. Some that come to mind include Reverend Ian Kerr, Reverend David Kidd and his father-in-law Reverend Roland McKay, Reverend McAlpine, Reverend Boyd and Elisabeth Mathews, Reverend Ned Denman, Reverend Dirk Moreau, Reverend Peter Banney, Reverend Dennis Conomos, Reverend Keiran Edwards and Reverend John Williams – just a few names that I can remember. My apologies to those who may have escaped my memory.

Our current minister is Reverend Peter Aay who has been with us since 2010.

We have been very fortunate to have had a number of lay preachers. These include Rick Thompson, Mary Elliot and her husband Ray, David Jarrott, Bob Arnold, Zelma Wasson, Dolla Marneweck, Nina Brown and Myrna Kaiser.



The Sunday School has faded away over the years. After Mrs Eunice Smith conducted the sessions, the Desbois girls used to take the smaller children over to sit on the CWA verandah during part of the Sunday Church Service to complete various activities.

Due to the dwindling numbers and departure of the Desbois girls, the children (Galbraton family and others) would go over to the Church of England building and have Sunday School there.

In 1998, an effort was made to offer a program to children when Lee Williams, Eunice Smith, Marie Desbois and Rebecca Carrick (a teacher at Seaforth State School) began a Friday afternoon program, Kids Club from 4pm to 6pm at the Seaforth Community Hall. Alistair Williams also helped out when he got home from high school.

Cordial and afternoon tea was prepared by the church ladies and the children participated in games and activities. It was a popular event for a number of years until Lee Williams left the area due to a transfer to Farleigh State School.


We have been blessed by the arrival of many southerners who have made Seaforth their home and have been able to assist with the upkeep of the church.

Handyman, Reg Reid installed the keyboard into the organ case and then varnished the case. He also assisted with the erection of the back awning, concreting, making the seating and installing a sink. Reg, his wife June, Charlie and Dorrie Symons and Bob and Thelma Farmer are all keen gardeners and have established and maintained the front and back gardens. Charlie has also helped with other tasks including electrical work. Les Jackson recently installed a new toilet suite.

Without the generosity of these people and other dedicated volunteers, the church could not be where it is today.



Many gifts have been given to the church from past church members or from other parishes.

  • Jack Reynolds made the candle holder and communion cup.
  • Ted Keast made the communion tray many years ago.
  • Joyce Cooper and her family donated the vase and flowers in memory of her late husband, Tom.
  • Eunice Smith presented an enlarged photo of the church on Opening Day, May 1961. The photo was taken by her father, Mr S Pedersen and was found in his belongings.
  • Bev Sewell painted a scene of a country church which still hangs in the church today.
  • Beryl Edwards painted the picture of “The Shepherd”.
  • Reverend Venetta Singh Lucas, during her three year stay, made the wall hanging behind the pulpit.
  • The Marian Church donated the notice board, cups and storage cupboard.

So many names come to mind when I reflect on the past fifty years. These include Mrs Archbold, Mrs Cooke, Mrs West (Beryl Edwards’ mother), Mrs Sorensen, Mrs Hall, Mrs Beryl Symons (Charlie’s mother), Mrs Nitz, Mrs Galbarin, Mrs Sewell, Jess Hansen, Mrs Betty Vickers, Elaine Reynolds, Mrs Dalton, Rick, Lee, Alistair and Jane Williams, Mrs Popperwell, Charles and Margaret Eden, Mavis Liddell and Mrs Evelyn Harvison. My apologies to anyone who I have missed.

The regular church attendees as at November 2010 include Joyce Cooper, Marie Desbois, Beryl Edwards, Robert and Thelma Farmer, Grace Jackson, Carol Moller, Rob, Suellen, Kirsten and Ryan Rasmussen, Jean Duffy, Charlie and Dorrie Symons, and Margaret Berry. Jess Hansen, Blanche Dalton, Robert, Jenny, Grace and Molly Roberts and Mariette Pienaar also attend when they can.

The writer of these recollections, Marie Desbois, is the last of the original church members

Joyce Cooper, who retired to Seaforth in 1966 from a cane farm near Pinnacle, is the next longest serving church member (aged 94 years in 2011).


These recollections
were compiled
Marie Desbois
for the
50th Celebrations of the
held on 22nd May 2011
Marie is the last of the
original church members
Marie Desbois


Footnote: The Seaforth Uniting Church property was sold in 2023, since the congregation was reduced to a very small size and unable to maintain the property. The decision to sell was made by the remaining members, supported by the Church Council.

The small congregation now meets in the Roman Catholic “Star of the Sea” centre off the main road just outside of Seaforth. As we did prior to the sale, we still meet at 9am on the first and third Saturdays each month.

This history of the Seaforth Uniting Church will remain on our website indefinitely, as it is important history to us.