South Woden Uniting Church was founded at a modest service in a home in Pearce on 12 February 1967, three days before the present minister, Neale Roberts, was born.
South Woden’s first minister, Geoff Bridge, who attended the 40th anniversary celebrations in February, said: ‘œThe first name was the ‘˜Pearce Area Church’ because at that time there were no other suburbs further south to give any meaning to the name ‘˜South Woden’, and it was 10 years before the formation of the UCA. It was all made possible by the generosity of Clyde Kilby who financed the purchase of the initial manse and gathering place at Pearce.’
The anniversary celebrations included a guided walk along Lake Burley Griffin through Westbourne Woods and a celebration dinner at Wesley Church’s gymnasium, attended by 150 people. The highlight of the weekend was the worship service on Sunday morning, held at the worship centre in the Pearce Community Hall and attended by up to 200 people, including six of the 10 ministers who have served South Woden during its 40 years.
No longer in a nappy valley, South Woden’s attendance now averages around 50. But the worship and social engagement with the community remain lively. This is reflected in a recent Presbytery Life and Witness Consultation report: ‘œSouth Woden is a congregation committed to social justice, informal yet well-structured worship, pastoral hospitality and celebration, and above all being Christians in the community. They have no church buildings, apart from a residence for their minister, and they worship in a community hall. They witness to the fact that the church is people, not buildings; property is not as important as community.’