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Wangaratta Corps converts old funeral home into new ministry centre

Salvos mascot ‘Shieldy’ in front of the new Wangaratta Salvation Army building.


New life has been birthed into a former funeral home with the long-awaited opening of Wangaratta Salvation Army’s new church premises.


The new corps building was officially opened in Victoria’s north-east amidst excitement and community goodwill on 2 June after renovations were undertaken to transform a funeral home into the new fit-for-purpose property on Greta Rd.


And after more than one year of planning, the event was a highlight for the community.

Commissioner Miriam Gluyas officially opens the new building.

“It has been a long journey, but now we’re into the new building, things are good,” said Envoy Peter Lewis, Wangaratta Corps Officer.


The previous premises were condemned due to ground movement issues, prompting our relocation. Therefore, the new building represents the result of approximately a year and a half of planning to secure a new location before transitioning into it.


Church members letterbox-dropped about 1000 houses in the local area, inviting them to a special open day on Saturday 2 June, and the official opening and church service the next day.


Describing the turnout as very positive, Peter said about 150 people attended the open day, affectionately named ‘Salvo Funday’, and 65 for the Sunday church service and official opening conducted by Commissioner Miriam Gluyas.

It was a beautiful day for the official opening.

A jumping castle, popcorn, sausages, fairy floss, spray-on tattoos and showbags delighted families and children on the open day.


The event was yet another chapter in the corps’ history, with The Salvation Army formally commencing in Wangaratta in 1891, where it was located in Rowan Street for 92 years. Since 1982, the building was located in Garnet Street before moving to its new location.

The courtyard (left) and the new chapel at the corps.

The new premises includes a chapel, open spaces for people to congregate, a fully equipped kitchen, an outdoor area with a garden courtyard, and even outdoor brass-instrument sculpture decorations after the instruments, no longer usable, were found at the bottom of a storage shed at the old property.


The church will run the following services from the new building: Community Meals; Salvo Fridays Free breakfast & Café from 8.30am to 1pm; After Hours Emergency Relief Services; Homelessness Services (Salvo Care); Worship Gatherings; Ministry to Women and Men; An internal street/open area for Drop in and conversations.


Peter said while the church community was quite elderly, they were very faithful and committed.


“They’re willing to try new things,” he said.


“They are very welcoming, so I think that’s a big positive. They bring their friends, and we have a community lunch once a month. On the first Sunday of the month, we have a less formal church service that is coffee and cake with a devotion. They will bring their friends to that, so even though they're elderly, they’re still very active and doing things like that.”

Brass instrument sculptures add much character to the outdoor courtyard space.

Peter said the church hoped to establish a free breakfast and café for the community on a Friday in the coming months, interacting with both the local community and its own church community and making use of its outdoor courtyard.


The corps also works with other churches for disaster relief assistance, including a group called Loaves and Fishes, which delivers emergency relief food. The church assists with Night Shelter, which helps people who are homeless during winter, too.


Looking to the future, external local businesses, groups, and not-for-profit organisations will be able to utilise the facility.

“The Salvation Army appreciates the support given by the City of Wangaratta in all that we do, and especially during the construction phase of the building,” Peter said. 


“The Salvation Army also acknowledges the great work done by the construction team – Nervegna Reed Architecture and Elevate Commercial Construction  – along with its own internal Property Team.


“The Salvation Army looks forward to continuing to work in collaboration with other agencies, churches and community groups to assist the people of Warrnambool and the surrounding districts wherever help is needed.”

(From left) State Member for Ovens Valley Tim McCurdy, Federal Member for Indi Dr Helen Haines, Commissioner Miriam Gluyas, Colonel Kelvin Merrett, Deputy Mayor of Rural City of Wangaratta Cr Harvey Benton, and Cr Irene Grant (also from Rural City of Wangaratta).

Mary Sharp (left), who will soon turn 99, grew up in Beechworth and has been a faithful soldier and active in the corps for many years. James Crawford, 90, has also been active in the corps for many years and has undertaken a number of leadership roles in the corps, including corps secretary, bandmaster, and corps organist.   









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