The Church that was built in one day
The rector of Picton and Wilton parish, the Rev Ben Boardman, was at a one-day training seminar in Sydney, so he missed watching Wilton’s new church arrive on the back of semi-trailers.
“It was a bit of a momentous occasion,” he says. “Two of the modules were almost four metres wide and they had to be transported through the night with an escort! There were significant logistical issues on site before the crane could put them down.”
By the time he returned at the end of the day, the new church building was in place.
“My wife took a lot of photos and we had a time-lapse video set up so everyone could see the whole build.”
It’s easy to miss Wilton and the Bingara Gorge estate as they are set back from the Hume Highway, southwest of Sydney. But the location is unbeatable, less than half an hour from Campbelltown, close to Wollongong and within reach of Canberra.
By the time it is finished, it will be the size of Bathurst
“Developers have seen the potential and the entire Wilton Junction will consist of five or six suburbs like Bingara Gorge and a town centre,” Mr Boardman says. “By the time it is [finished], it will purportedly be the size of Bathurst.”
It will purportedly be the size of Bathurst
The original church at Wilton seats only about 70 people but that was enough when it was built more than 100 years ago, helped by the estate of Australia’s first millionaire, James Tyson. It’s hard to know what Tyson himself would have thought – at its height his fortune was $26 billion in today’s value, yet he is said to have never entered a church.
Why a moveable church?
The present-day congregation has outgrown the building and with the continued growth expected in the area, the Diocese’s Mission Property Committee (MPC) decided to fund a bold new venture – the moveable church.
“This arrangement is financed by the MPC and they continue to own the facility,” Mr Boardman says. “Their intention is to give us a leg-up to prove our growth, so to speak, before we can get something larger and more permanent once we have the capacity to do so. Then they can take the building back and just move it somewhere else.
A leg-up to prove growth
“In fact, both council and the Mission Property Committee have time limits on the approval. Depending on where you look, we have a seven- to 10-year window.”
In the meantime, the new facility has the capacity to seat about 150 with a separate crying room and storeroom. The second section is joined by covered verandah to the Sunday school facilities, which include one double-sized and two single classrooms as well as bathrooms and a kitchen.
It's never just about the building
“We're just below 500 square metres of roof space, including the verandah. It's designed with people flow in mind and to maximise what we could get in terms of modular buildings.” When we speak about church, we often mean “the building” whereas the Bible talks about church as “the people”. At Wilton, the building went up in 24 hours and the people will take a little longer. But Ben Boardman and the congregation hope that one day they can pay it forward and hand the building on to the next growth area.
they hope they can hand the building on to the next growth area