A fortnightly, non-denominational, independent religious service is being held at the new Hinterland Chapel.
A fortnightly, non-denominational, independent religious service is being held at the new Hinterland Chapel.

The little church bringing parishioners back into the fold

THERE is a new, hip place for religious services on the Northern Rivers, it’s called the Hinterland Chapel, in Eureka.

The new independent, non-denominational Christian Sunday services are held fortnightly at the intersection of Eureka and Springvale Roads from 3.30pm.

The services attract people from the hinterland area, from Clunes to Federal and beyond.

The next services will be held on March 15 and 29.

Dean and Kylie Johnston are in charge of the services, which seems natural as the Johnston family originally donated the land for what became the North Clunes Methodist Church, which over the years then became the Uniting Church.

Mr Johnston said his great-grand father Andrew Johnston and his 14 year-old son Jim boarded the steam ship Coraki in Sydney on July 1881 to take the three-day journey north along the coast, then up the Richmond River until it reached the frontier town of Lismore.

In 1883 the small group of pioneering families in Eureka started meeting in Andrew and Kate’s home for worship services.

“In those days they would have had very little, and would have had to work incredibly hard just to put the most meagre of food on the table and clothes on their back,” Mr Johnston said.

“Such was their faith and conviction, that they decided a church should be built.

“Beech, rosewood and sassafras trees were felled, and the logs hauled to the building site by bullock teams. The triangle formed by the road junction was the site of the sawpit where the logs were sawn by hand. All this work, including the making of pews and pulpit, was done by voluntary labour.”

A fortnightly, non-denominational, independent religious service is being held at the new Hinterland Chapel.
A fortnightly, non-denominational, independent religious service is being held at the new Hinterland Chapel.

The church first opened on Sunday June 19, 1887, 132 years ago, and since then, it has been the site of marriages, baptisms and funerals, Sunday school picnics and many community memories.

Mr Johnston said the service started last September on Wednesdays, and the highlight so far has been the Christmas Carols last year.

“Since then, this year, my wife and I really felt a conviction to start a local church, to serve the community, and about a month ago we transitioned to Sunday services, hopefully to be weekly sometime soon,” he said.