St James' Anglican Church celebrates 50 years of serving its local community

Celebrating 50 years: Emerton resident and Reverend Warren Smith has been at St James Anglican Church Whalan for 12 years. Picture: Isabella Lettini
Celebrating 50 years: Emerton resident and Reverend Warren Smith has been at St James Anglican Church Whalan for 12 years. Picture: Isabella Lettini

St James Anglican Church in Whalan celebrated its 50th anniversary on Saturday, October 28.

Opening Day: The church held its first service on October 28, 1967 under Reverend Allan Whittam. His son Christopher Whittam is still part of the church.

Opening Day: The church held its first service on October 28, 1967 under Reverend Allan Whittam. His son Christopher Whittam is still part of the church.

Around 70 people attended the celebrations including the son of the church’s first reverend, Christopher Whittam, who first attended the church in 1967 as an eight-year-old. 

“He gave an address which was lovely,” current reverend, Warren Smith, said.

“It was great to have someone speak who has been at St James for the whole 50 years.”

Celebrations: Western Sydney Anglican Bishop Ivan Lee, local MPs Ed Husic and Prue Car, deputy mayor of Blacktown Tony Bleasdale and Reverend Warren Smith.

Celebrations: Western Sydney Anglican Bishop Ivan Lee, local MPs Ed Husic and Prue Car, deputy mayor of Blacktown Tony Bleasdale and Reverend Warren Smith.

Reverend Smith has been at the church since 2005.

While he has been part of the community for 12 years, he said: “so many of the church members have been here a lot longer than me – they remember when there were no houses around the area.”

The theme for the weekend’s celebrations was ‘passing the gospel to the next generation’ - an idea that’s very poignant to the reverend.

“My wife and I have had a vision since we moved to this church and have been building on it for the last 12 years,” he said.

The morning began with a display of photos and historic moments of the church, as well as a DVD playing vision of past events and services.

The main service was held at noon before a cutting of the anniversary cake by western Sydney Anglican Bishop Ivan Lee and church wardens Joe Small and Fay Forbes.

“There was also a special performance by the Tongan congregation at the church,” Reverend Smith said.

“It was a huge surprise – even I didn’t know they were performing. It was just great.”

The church is involved in many activities in the local community, including a social group for the elderly as part of Anglicare five days a week.

“We also have an op shop open every Friday and a free food hamper for about 60 people every Friday,” Reverend Smith said.

“We have a free community dinner once a month as well and an after school kids club.

“Whalan is a particularly disadvantaged area, so I have a broader vision for the future. Hopefully we can extend our facilities and accommodate for many more things.”

In the future Reverend Smith hopes to implement English as a second language classes, a playgroup, and a before and after school care homework program into the church’s extra circular activities.

Reverend Smith began his career training in Sydney before working in various parts of Victoria and Newcastle. He worked at Mona Vale Anglican Church before moving to Whalan in 2005. 

The church welcomes newcomers and encourages all church members to get involved through Bible study, training and knowledge.

More details: stjamesmtdruitt.org.au.