26 July 2022

National Seventh Day Adventist Church heritage listed

| Ian Bushnell
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Canberra National Seventh Day Adventist Church

Canberra National Seventh Day Adventist Church. Photo: Wikipedia.

The Canberra National Seventh Day Adventist Church in Turner has been officially heritage listed after meeting two of the criteria.

The church was provisionally listed in February to increase the protection and recognition of modernist architecture in the ACT, and only needed to meet one criteria in the Heritage Act to qualify for official listing.

The statement of historical significance says the church, designed by prominent Australian architect Ken Woolley, is an excellent example of Modernist church design incorporating characteristics of the late 20th century Ecclesiastical and Sydney Regional styles.

These are integrated with unique attributes related to its function as a Seventh Day Adventist Church.

It is thought to be the only church of its kind in Australia that incorporates symbolic aspects of the Seventh Day Adventist liturgy.

READ ALSO 19th century needlework among provisional heritage listings

It was shown the church demonstrated the principal characteristics of a class of cultural or natural places or objects; and a high degree of creative or technical achievement for a particular period.

The combination of styles includes the red-brown Bowral brick; the painted western red cedar used in the walls and window joinery; and the roll-formed, brown, steel decking used for the roof (Ecclesiastical) and post-1960 Sydney Regional in the asymmetrical shape, a lack of concern in the façade as a presentation front, and the skillion roof.

The windows also provide a mix of the two styles.

Inside, the traditional rectangular seating orientation at a right-angle to the high outer wall and plain white surfaces, is Ecclesiastical.

Shumack Stone Hut School needlework sampler

The Shumack Stone Hut School needlework sampler. Photo: ACT Government.

Woolley deliberately incorporated symbolism into the design, including the central role of water and baptism in Seventh Day Adventist belief.

The placement of the massive external buttresses rising from the courtyard pool suggest the building is rising from the water.

Inside the church, seating is lower than the external pool and the focus of the congregation is on the baptismal font on the right side of the rostrum at the front of the room.

The deliberate play of light within the interior, combined with the white walls, was intended to symbolise purity. A dramatic skylight focuses light on the immersion font.

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In 1996, the church received a Royal Australian Institute of Architects (RAIA) Twenty-five Year Award from the the ACT Chapter.

The Heritage Council also confirmed the listing of a needlework sampler from the Shumack Stone Hut School, formerly located in what is now the suburb of Ainslie.

The sampler, currently displayed in the Hall School Museum and Heritage Centre collection, was made by Margaret Shumack as part of her official schooling in 1887 while she was a student at the Stone Hut School.

The heritage statement says the rare object is important to the course of women and children’s history in the ACT, as well as the history of schools and education in 19th century colonial NSW in an area that subsequently became part of the ACT.

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Modernist architecture!? Are you kidding me!? Its an absolute eyesore of brick building with a tin roof!

Churches on prime real estate has to be one of the worst planning decisions of all time.

Their carparks sit empty 95% of the time, they dont pay land rates or land tax due to their excemptions and unless you want to repent to their 1 version of god (and thereby deny the existence of the other 900 that people also seem to believe in) then you can literally go to hell as far as their members are concerned.

Why we keep protecting these morally corrupt freeloading organisations is beyond me.

Capital Retro4:39 pm 27 Jul 22

I thought you were alluding to trade unions in you last sentence. They are non-taxpayers too, you know.

I guess we won’t see at Church on Sunday?

Richard Markowski4:03 pm 29 Jul 22

Brandolini’s Law prevents me from addressing every point here, but I stood up from my computer and applauded at one of the hot takes… religion is often held responsible for a lot of the world’s ills, but this is the first time I’ve seen it blamed for a lack of car parking! Beatuifully done, sir. The reasoning here of course is ridiculous on its face, but it suffers further by starting from a false premise – this church rents out its car parks during the week.

Wonder if they will have a plaque showing how many lives the Church has destroyed by shunning and isolating anyone who chooses to leave.

Nerolie Phillips1:14 pm 09 Nov 22

Do they shun people who leave? I left 1979, and they refused to accept my departure. Several years later, when I had moved to Sydney, they rang me to ask if I wanted my membership transferred, and I told them I am no longer a member. They agreed to remove me from the church roll, but maintained contact with me. You may be confusing SDA with Jehovah Witnesses – they isolate former members.

Nerolie Phillips1:18 pm 09 Nov 22

They don’t isolate people who leave. I left in 1979 and they initially refused to accept my leaving. Several years later they agreed (after consulting me) to remove me from the church roll, but they maintained contact with me. You may be confusing SDA’s with Jehovah Witnesses.

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