Our service times are 9.30am

We celebrate communion on the first Sunday each month.

We welcome everyone. The community enjoys sharing morning tea and  conversation after the service.

Special Services

Sunday 24th December 2018, 6pm – Christmas Eve. A service for grandparents and their grandchildren where we tell the Christmas story and sing carols

Christmas Day Monday 25th December 2018, 9am.

Christmas star

Christmas star

Harvest festival


We come together to worship God. Our worship is an expression of our love of God and our desire to support each other as we follow the example of Jesus, finding ways to share God’s love in the world.

We are a warm bunch of people, with diverse life experience and well practised at welcoming people who have newly moved to Victor Harbor. We love meeting new people.

We enjoy doing things together and share in a variety of activities that serve our local community and beyond.

The Uniting Church is a young church – formed on 22 June 1977, when the Congregational, Methodist, and Presbyterian Churches united to become one. The Basis of Union is the document which affirms our Christian faith and is the guide to what is central to the life of the Uniting Church in Australia.
Read the Basis of Union here.


The Newland Memorial church history began in 1839 when the Rev. Ridgway William Newland arrived on the south coast with a small community of people from the Hanley district of North Staffordshire, England. He had purchased 560 acres of land at Encounter Bay (or Yilki, as it was known to the aboriginal population) in the new colony of South Australia and the new settlers began to build a community on the coast near what was then a small whaling settlement. Tents were erected and the first services were held in one of these.

By 1846 a chapel, 28’x19′ built of limestone with French doors opening on to a verandah had been built. It was a building with a thatched roof and a depiction of it can be seen in one of the stained glass windows of the present building. It was a proud moment for Newland when for the first time he preached from the pulpit of that little chapel.

At first the chapel was lit by whale oil lamps and tallow candles and the smell was anything but pleasant. Later, kerosene was used but any puff of wind would set the lamps flaring up and services were interrupted while they were attended to.

In 1850, members of that congregation formally formed themselves into a Congregational Church which continued until the union of the Congregational, Methodist and Presbyterian churches in 1977 formed the Uniting Church of Australia.

In 1867 a decision was taken to provide a place of worship in the rapidly developing Victor Harbor township. This had been foreseen by Newland before his death by accident in 1864 and it became a reality in 1869 with the opening of the new church there. This building was named the Newland Memorial Church in honour of the founder of this enterprise on the South Coast. This building is now part of the Church Hall. In the intervening two years there had been services held either in the dining room of the Crown Hotel or in a wool store. Fifty years later there was a need to extend the building and these extensions were completed and opened in 1919.

The 1920’s saw a great expansion in Victor Harbor and on at least one occasion there was an overflow congregation of 50-60 people on the steps listening to the service. Seeing the need for a new building, the congregation undertook the task with some urgency and the building that we have today was opened by Sir Henry Newland, grandson of the original pastor on the 22nd. October 1927.

Early Days of Newland Church

Information drawn from ‘A band of Pioneers’ by John Cameron, 1977.

The Rev. Charles Hodge, a Congregational minister from Cornwall, became the pastor of The Tabernacle (Tabernacle Road, Yilki) and Bald Hills Church in 1866, a position he retained for 20 years. Soon after taking office he became the spearhead for building a church at Port Victor, a plan the Rev. Ridgeway Newland, builder of The Tabernacle, had been urging before his untimely, accidental death in 1864.

 In 1867 Mr Hodge began holding services at Port Victor in the dining room of the newly built ‘Crown Hotel’, and sometimes in Clark and Dodson’s wool store which would have been alongside the railway line, not far from the causeway. A Port Victor Fellowship was formed in May 1867 and at a meeting held at the wool store it was resolved that:

‘a place of worship to be called Newland Church in connection with the Congregational body be built in the township of Port Victor… to accommodate 200 persons’.

The land was donated by Mr A.F. Lindsay, a friend of Newland’s, and the foundation stone was laid by Newland’s widow in 1868.

The grand opening celebrations extended over 3 days in July 1869. A special horse tram from Goolwa and Port Elliot brought a big crowd, but letters to the ‘Southern Argus’ decried the ‘shocking Sabbath-breaking tactics’ of allowing trams to run on the day of rest!

By the end of Mr Hodge’s 20 year ministry the church was paid for. Now that is extraordinary!

Congregational Church

If you seek out the foundation stone you will be looking at a marble insert unveiled by Mr Newland’s 90 year old son Simpson in 1925. Somehow an inscription had been ‘overlooked’ in 1868 and a blank stone had been laid! Also, it is no longer where it was originally placed, as you will see.

It was necessary to enlarge the building in 1919 and a novel solution was found. The facade was removed and an annexe of an additional 2 bays was added at the front. Count them, and take note of how beautifully it was all matched. Mr Hodge’s son laid its foundation stone which was inscribed:

Port Victor, renamed Victor Harbor in 1921, underwent a huge boom in holiday visitors during the 1920’s with the result that many worshippers had to stand outside on the steps during services in the summer.

A yet larger building was needed and so in April 1927 its foundation stone, granite from West Island, was laid by Simpson Newland’s son, Dr (later Sir) Henry S. Newland on land which he had donated. The magnificent building where we now worship was opened in October 1927 and dedicated to the memory of the Rev. R. Newland and his late son Simpson CMG, JP, pastoralist, statesman and author. It was made possible by a legacy from Simpson, help from the Congregational Union of SA and other generous contributions.
Having a ‘spare’ building has given us the Upper and Lower Halls and offices, plus the Ladies’ Guild’s 1961 Memorial addition at the rear with kitchen and toilet facilities.

How lucky we are to have had such a fine legacy left to us… and what a responsibility!

Ruth Gates


Rev. Alison Whish

Alison has a background in community work, but most recently worked in Tasmania as a presbytery minister focused on leadership development, covering the whole state.

Before Tasmania, Alison spent time at a parish in Victoria, and also held the chief executive position at Uniting Care Wesley in Port Pirie.

Here in Victor, Alison enjoys spending time with the local community.

During a Christmas Eve walk to Granite Island, Alison realised halfway across the causeway that everyone she passed was speaking in a language other than English.

“This served to emphasise the wide variation of cultures, nationalities and backgrounds within the town’s tourist population.”

Alison believes her role within the church is to make those tourists, locals, and newcomers alike, feel welcome in town.

“Hospitality is something that’s very important to my ministry,” she says.

“I think the Christian faith is a welcoming faith.”

Alison believes making friends and building connections is, “important to who we are as human beings”.

She said characteristics of a strong, resilient community include its members looking out for one another, and helping to find the good in tough situations.

She said the local community’s caring nature has been evident since she has been in town, telling of how, just prior to Christmas, she noticed one of the church women had made Christmas cakes for men who were widowed or living alone.

Another instance of caring was when some of the congregation got together to celebrate the birthday of one of their elderly members in the church kitchen.

“It was just that lovely, gentle caring of one another,” Alison said.

“I see the care and love expressed between the people in this community.

“If we could grow that in the world, we wouldn’t have wars.”

Outside of her role in the church Alison has a great interest in religious icons. She said she particularly enjoys painting them, which is known as writing icons.

Alison loves swimming and is enjoying the new pool.

“We want to build up our program of concerts.” She said she is looking forward to growing the program – check the events page for more news.

“It’s a good musical venue,” Alison said. “The acoustics are terrific and it does lend itself well to choirs.

“You are a very privileged position as a Minister – you are  admitted to peoples’ lives – you are often the one who is invited to walk on that journey as they walk through something significant to them. Sharing in people’s lives brings great joy.”