How we came to be.
Unlocking the gate.
Pilgrim Uniting Church came into being in 1969 when two congregations unlocked the gate in the high stone wall that separated their back-to-back churches and became one.
In the more than 100 years since they had been built to serve the colony, the Stow Memorial Congregational Church in Flinders Street (built in 1867) and the Pirie Street Wesleyan Methodist Church (built in 1851) were faced with expensive building maintenance costs and experiencing a decline in attendance. The solution was for both congregations to merge and worship in a single building.
A CHANGE OF NAME
The Flinders Street building was chosen and the new church became known as the Union Church in the City. It took the name Pilgrim Uniting Church in 1976 when the plan to bring together the Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational Churches was ratified, and the way was paved for the foundation of the Uniting Church of Australia on 22 June, 1977.
A revival gothic style using stone from the Glen Osmond Quarry.
Formerly the Stow Memorial Congregational Church, Pilgrim Uniting Church was built as a memorial to Reverend Thomas Quinton Stow who was instrumental in establishing Congregationalism in South Australia.
The building, which is an example of Revival Gothic style, could seat 1500 people and designed by design competition winner, Robert George Thomas. Construction commenced in 1867 using stone mined from the Glen Osmond Quarry, which was dressed with freestone from the Glen Ewin Quarry.
The front porch of French Caen limestone was created by stonemason Samuel Peters whose detailed carvings of fruits and flowers are accented by an image of a squirrel in the central pillar. The squirrel, which replaces the traditional medieval gargoyle, was carved at Thomas’ suggestion that his pet squirrel be incorporated into the design.
When the two churches merged, significant historical items were retrieved from the Pirie Street Wesleyan Methodist Church and installed in the Stow Memorial Congregational Church. Amongst these were ornately carved wooden panelling from the pulpit, gallery railings and memorial stained-glass windows.
Pilgrim is home to two organs that are played during the Choral Worship and Evensong services.
The historic pipe organ was built by Eagle Ltd of London before being transported to Adelaide and installed in the Pirie Street Methodist Church in 1855 to take its place as the largest in the colony at that time. Since then, it has been rebuilt by Fincham and Hobday in 1884 and J.E Dodd in 1902, was enlarged by Roberts Ltd in 1930 and renovated by LS Waters and Son in 1966. The organ was transported from the Pirie Street Methodist Church and rebuilt into the South Gallery of Pilgrim Uniting Church in 1973. George Stephens Pty Ltd revoiced the instrument to suit the different acoustic environment and added a four manual cedar console and a registration capture system and sequencing to make it the largest organ in South Australia.
Pilgrim was gifted the Continuo (Chamber) Organ in 2010 by church members Brian Lewis Jones OAM, Bronwen Lewis Jones and Doris Ruth Jones (nee Keynes) in memory of their Stow Memorial Church forebears. The oak, single five stop, mobile organ was made by Kenneth Tickell and Company Ltd in Northhampton in the United Kingdom and features a keyboard made of bone and ebony.