History of our church

Church in Devonport begins.

With thanks to Elder Emeritus Betty Paterson for this important contribution.

Although there had been visits by Presbyterian ministers previously, the first indication of regular Presbyterian work in the area was in May 1885,

When the Rev H T Hull was inducted to the new charge of West Devon in the Town Hall Forth. The Charge included Leven, Don, Castra and Penguin.”

The intention to develop a Presbyterian Church in Formby ( the early name for Devonport) is supported by the fact that an allotment

was “reserved to the Presbyterian Church” in Steele Street, Formby as documented in records from 1866 & 1868.

The church did not proceed to obtain the title of the land as it stated the taxes (some £2 or £3 annually) “were considered burdensome”


 “A Home Mission Station with a nice little church” was built at  Don in 1891.

This served the local congregation and congregational members from  Devonport until the last service on the 17th, of December 2023.

The first Presbyterian church in Devonport briefly used the Congregational Church and then the Devonport Town Hall

They were received as Minister ( Rev. D. Brown ) and congregation by the Presbytery of Launceston on February 23rd 1904.

They were thus meeting as a Presbyterian Church in Devonport from March 1904 , and served the Lord until its closure on the 

By December 1906 they had built a church in Edward Street and began meeting there.

This building served as their church until October 1957 when the present church was opened and dedicated..

It is a light and airy building and has a seating capacity of 200.

Sited on the corner of Best and Edward streets, it was designed by the Architect Mr A.A. Freak.

The new church was named in memory of Columba who in 563 landed at Iona, an island off the  Scottish coast and founded the work which was to evangelise Scotland.

The original church now serves as the congregational hall and is used for Sunday school ( Our Place), meetings, lunches, dinners and general purposes.

Further improvements to the building have included a striking new colour scheme and a remodelled front entrance.

The new front entrance was entirely financed by monthly stalls organised by Mrs Brenda Roberts, Mrs Mary Gott and a loyal band of helpers.

The photograph on the right shows the original church on the left of the remodelled front entrance and the current church to the right of the entrance.

The Devonport Church remains  Presbyterian Church

During the 1970s there were moves to join with the Congregational and Methodist churches to form a branch of the Uniting Church.

Finally, after a process of voting, this church elected to remain a Presbyterian Church.

From June 22nd 1977, some members left to become part of the newly formed Uniting Church but there was minimal disruption and great generosity of spirit within the Charge.

There have been many people who have been part of our history but they are not referred to by name.

Our story is made possible by them and it would be terrible to start to list them and then leave someone out.

May they be aware of the gratitude we all feel to them for their commitment and devotion.

Stanley Presbyterian Church- St James.

The Charge of Stanley Presbyterian Church came under the auspices of Devonport Don Presbyterian church in …..

Currently under the care of Pastor Dean Ollington with additional Spiritual leadership from Rev Ian Mc Kendrick and Rev Andrew Satchell.

Stanley -St James- Presbyterian Church is located on the northwestern edge of Tasmania, 22 kilometres from Smithton and 127 kilometres from Devonport

and was named after the Secretary of State for Colonies in 1840.

One of the first pre-fabricated buildings in Australia was St James’ Presbyterian Church, built in 1853

from sections shipped from England.


Music has played a significant part in the services in this Church and in the lives of us all. It has helped to give expression to our love for our God and has brought great beauty to our worship.

The Organ

November 1904 The church arranged to take an organ on trial from Munnew and Findlay; the ‘ Mason & Hamlin’  organ was used for many years.

In November 1957 Mrs Kirkwood donated an organ. This is the handsome ‘Estey’ which is currently located in the foyer.

On 28th January 1961, a small pipe organ was dedicated to the Glory of God.

This organ has had 2 rebuilds 1 in 1971 by Mr. K R Davis of Launceston Tasmania, and again in 1977 ( plus an extension) by Laurie Pipe Organs of Moorabbin Victoria.

The Organists

Throughout its 113 years, The Church has been most fortunate in enjoying the generous services of fine organists.

Mention must be made of Mr. Ken Field -23 years of service– who, in many ways established a pattern for fine musicianship within our Church

and Mr. Jack Archer -23 years of service- who gave wonderful service and was a great enthusiast.

We especially  remember the wonderful contribution of Mr David Scott who as a teenager, Master David Scott,  took over responsibility for the organ and subsequently

gave 46 years of service.

1941 an entry into the annual report read ” Praise for his great works can hardly be too high.” In 1991 there was a special service to give thanks for his 40 years of service.

Mrs Anne Mitchell was our organist after David’s death in 1995.  a post she filled in tandem with  Ron Churcher. 

Mr Ron Churcher former music director for many many years at the Baptist Church in Devonport came to ‘help out’ for a few months and stayed for 20 + years. Sadly, Ron died in 2019.

The Choir

Thus began a fine tradition of choral singing in the Church.

In later years the Choir entered the Devonport and Launceston Eisteddfods and always acquitted themselves with distinction.

The two wars affected the composition of the choir but always it seems that people appeared and it was able to continue.

In recent years under the baton of Rosie Stapleton, the choir has participated in the annual local Jazz festival and visited the local Nursing Homes to entertain the residents.

The Junior Choir

A children’s choir is mentioned as singing for morning services in 1906.

” This caused quite a disturbance which finally resulted in the resignation of Rev Brown. The Board of Management was seen as overriding the jurisdiction  of the Minister and session in this matter.” 

Fortunately, the Junior Choir continued and we see further mention of them as credit and joy in 1925,1946,1947.

There was then an unexplained lapse of some years until 1963 the Junior Choir was restarted by Mrs Marjory Scott (wife of organist David Scott)

They sang at morning services, Sunday school anniversaries, and musical plays  and also achieved success at both the Launceston and Devonport Eisteddfods

The choir went into recess in 1969  but Mrs Scott formed another junior Choir in 1984 and this performed wonderfully well until its members reached school-leaving age in 1991.

Today we await another Junior Choir whilst the  Senior Choir under the tutelage and baton of Rosie  Stapleton continues to enhance our worship with beautiful music and voice

Memorandum of Understanding.

  • The Presbyterian Church of Australia’s national assembly ratified the following Memorandum of Understanding with the Christian Reformed Churches of Australia on the 10th of September 2019.
  • This Memorandum of Understanding (MOU )is between the Christian Reformed Churches of Australia ( CRCA) and the Presbyterian Church of Australia (PCA) As reformational and confessional churches this MOU seeks to foster a closer more formal relationship between our two denominations within the Australian cultural context. Formal recognition would grant bilateral work more authority and provide greater impetus and stimulus to our churches to work together in God’s Kingdom. Such a relationship would be focussed in terms of engagement.
    At a local level such engagement would include ;
    * Combined Services, where suitable or desired
    * Receiving of one another’s members
    * Recognition of one another’s Ministers for preaching duties.
    *Working together in local evangelism
    * Focussing church planting work with consideration for one another.
    * Combining and /or assisting with local diaconal /mercy ministries where possible. At a broader level, such engagement would include;
    * Cooperation and mutual encouragement between denominational diaconal ministries
    * Overseas mission information exchange and cooperation
    * Cooperation with Presbyterian Inland Mission
    * Working together on societal challenges that affect us, e.g.
    marriage equality, safe church issues, and submissions to the government on various ethical-moral issues.
    * Exchange of greetings and delegates at broader church assemblies.* Provide a foundation for closer relationships with other
    reformational churches throughout Australia.
    It is understood that this MOU is subservient to and must comply with the current and future decisions of the Synods of the CRCA and the General Assemblies of the PCA
  • Where any conflict occurs the formal decisions of the broader assemblies of each denomination take precedence.


Ministries- Devonport Don.

1903-1906:  Rev D Brown.                        1907 – 1911: Rev. S Byron.                       1912- 1917:  Rev.D Jones.

1918 – 1919: Rev J H M Dabb.                 1920- 1924: Rev R Rankin.                      1925-1933: Rev F J Thomas.

1933-1938: Rev. L Clayton.                       1939- 1953: Rev A R Barnett.                1953-1954:  Rev. S Vertigan

1954-1959: Rev. R J Scrimgeour           1960: Rev A A Mc Kenzie- supply         1960: Rev K Forbes Ewan – Supply

1961-1965: Rev D V Morey.                   1965- 1966:  Rev. CE Hipwell  – Supply

1966-1969: Rev G L Stewart.                  1969 – 1970:  Supply –  combined with Methodist church.

1970 – 1973: Rev J C McDiarmid          1974; Rev J Saunders – Supply.               1975-1977: Rev R W F  White.

1978-1979: Mr John Saunders – Supply         1980 – 1981: Rev A J Blazely – Supply

1980 -1981: Mr. P. Playsted was ordained and inducted in 1981

 Rev P Playsted.  1982- 1984:  Rev J Britton 1985 – 1989:    Rev T S Penning. 1992-1996:  Rev D C Geddes.1998 -2002: 

Rev S C Warwick: 2002-  2013 –  Rev A Satchell 2015-2023