“There were drawers with no knobs and the runners were worn out so they couldn’t be opened, the sheets had been split down the middle and sewn back together so the worn bits went to the outside, and some still had holes, and the cutlery was so worn that the silver had rubbed off the spoons and you could cut your lip on the sharp edges.”
THIS WAS REV OSSSIE Kadel’s memory of the manse when he came to Palmwoods in 1960 as a newly ordained and recently married young minister. The Montville Uniting, (then Methodist) church was part of his parish. Rev Kadel was canny; he invited the parish treasurer to dinner despite Mrs Kadel’s protests that they couldn’t entertain guests until better cutlery could be obtained. Very soon after the dinner party a sum of money was provided so that new household goods could be purchased for the manse.
Most past ministers of the 100 year old church (pictured below), spoke fondly of time spent at Montville, but a number experienced a few difficult moments as well. In the church’s earliest days, the minister rode a horse up the Razorback from Palmwoods, and after morning worship he rode on to Mapleton for an afternoon service in the Mapleton church. Several tales have emerged of borrowed horses bolting for home with the clergyman clinging precariously to their backs. Then there was the minister
who later taught at Bible College, and told his students to look forward to a few unexpected trials during their future ministries. Once, he claimed, he was “chased around the ploughed ground with a hoe” by a prominent church and community identity during his ministry in Montville during the 1930s. The cause of the parishioner’s displeasure has been since forgotten.
Rev Bray had a very noisy Christmas in the 1970s when the Sunday School teachers, whose task was to purchase gifts for the children at the annual Christmas Tree event, chose to buy toy drums for his two small sons. Gifts for the Sunday School children caused a number of problems over the years. One past teacher remembered being in trouble the year she bought a lot of bubble blowers for her class. “The bubbles landed on the angels’ dresses and marked the satin!”
Despite difficulties and annoyances, those who had ministered there generally spoke fondly of Montville, and in turn, were remembered with gratitude and respect. Some, we’re told, had beautiful singing voices, some were exceptionally supportive in times of tragedy and illness, and others were remembered for their work with local youth and their willingness to join in community activities. Their parishioners spoke of the commitment of all of them to their calling. Despite the relatively short time many of them spent in the parish, the Montville Uniting Church and the community as a whole were enriched by their presence.
(Material included in this article is taken from interviews and from the book, 100 Years of Blessing: The Montville Uniting Church 1912 – 2012)