19 May 2024

164-year-old church fundraises for roof repair with organ concert

Vicar the Venerable Vanessa Bennett and the community at St Thomas’ Moonee Ponds care deeply about maintaining the church buildings and grounds. Picture: Elspeth Kernebone

Maya Pilbrow

1 June 2023

An organ recital at St Thomas’ Moonee Ponds has helped the parish raise funds for costly repairs to preserve the church’s historic roof.

Church warden Denny Parisian said the repairs were a large undertaking, but the parish was very conscious of its responsibilities for caretaking of the historic buildings. 

“We work hard to maintain the grounds and the buildings,” he said.

Mr Parisian said the 164-year-old church building was protected by a heritage overlay, a state planning provision meaning that any repairs needed to maintain the site’s cultural and historical significance.

He said the heritage protections required the roof be replaced with slate tiles to match the originals, making the process more costly.

He said the parish has organised annual fundraisers since 2015 to help achieve a goal of $325,000, with this year’s event coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the church’s organ.

Read more: Choir learns 300 years of coronation music in a month

Younger than the church building but still historically significant is the church organ, donated by William Stephen Kimpton in 1923, whose descendants Mr Parisian said were still regular parishioners at St Thomas’.

Organ Historical Trust of Australia cofounder John Maidment said St Thomas’ organ was one of the few intact interwar instruments built by pipe organ builder George Fincham.

Mr Maidment said Mr Kimpton’s gift was generous, allowing the organ builders to splash out and construct a larger and more impressive instrument than most other churches had at the time.

Mr Maidment said the organ was in good condition after a hundred years and had barely been altered from its original state.

He said it was impressive to be able to visit the church and see things how they were when originally built.

“You can see it exactly as it was made when it was constructed,” he said.

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