St John the Divine celebrates 80th birthday with fete

St John the Divine Anglican Church
Roslyn Phythian, Tanya McLoughlin and Betty Reid at the 80th birthday celebrations of St John the Divine Anglican Church at Burnett Heads on Saturday.

Parishioners at St John the Divine Anglican Church in Burnett Heads celebrated the church's 80th birthday today with a fete.

There was nothing stopping 81-year-old Betty Reid, who was kept busy serving jam and scones.

Betty was born one year before the church opened and her memory is sharp when it comes to telling treasured stories about her time at the seaside community’s church.

“I wasn’t baptised here because the church wasn’t open at that time but my three siblings were,” Betty said.

“My mum was a life member of the guild and the font was donated by my maternal grandparents – so my family has always been deeply involved.”

Betty Reid at the 80th birthday celebrations of St John the Divine Anglican Church
Betty Reid at the 80th birthday celebrations of St John the Divine Anglican Church at Burnett Heads.

Betty said the 80th birthday celebrations were important for the Burnett Heads community as it provided a place for people to come together to meet for special occasions or for the service held of a Saturday evening. There is a regular contingent of about 12 people who attend the church.

“Church is a personal choice for people today, and the same people are sticking to the church but newcomers are always welcome,” Betty said.

“Sometimes I have been the lone one here at the service but that is okay, I have so many memories of this church.”

Looking through the St John the Divine Anglican Church’s eight decade history Betty knew the exact date when she had her communion and could described every detail the day that happened from 70 years earlier.

“It was the 10th of July 1949 and there was a group of us who were all excited for the special day. Everybody turned up to all the functions in those days,” she said.

“We were always brought up with fundraising and that is still important today as you can see by events such as this fete.”

When Betty isn’t helping to keep the church in order, she is kept busy working at Burnett Heads State School a few days a week, where she enjoys her time with the young students.

Community fete held every five years

St John the Divine celebrates a birthday fete every five years. One of the fete organisers Roslyn Phytian said this year people had gathered at the church gates even before the fete opened on Saturday morning, and it was nice to see there was still a lot of support from the surrounding community.

A member of the congregation Chris McLoughlin said the fete was an important event that brought the whole community together whileshow casing the historic church.

“This morning was very busy and we had many young families come along, some that may not have been here before,” Chris said.

He said the unique church held a special place in his heart as he married his wife Tanya there eight years earlier.

“It’s a great community church and a really small church,” he said.

“I mean there was standing room only when we got married and there were people outside looking in through the windows because of the size of the church, but that’s what makes it so unique,” he said.

Chris said several Burnett Heads organisations support the fete.

“It is 80 years that this church has been in this community and it has played an essential part in the community; it’s nice to see it still standing and to see the support from the Burnett Heads community.

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