It was in about 1890 that the Rev. Henry Tate, Curate at St. John’s, Parramatta, began to conduct Sunday services in the Holroyd district. They were held in a building known as “The Old Dairy”, on the corner of Merrylands Road and Fowler Road. The Merrylands West Post Office and Store was later built on this site.
On 9th January, 1892, Archdeacon W.J. Gunther, Rector of St. John’s, Parramatta, called together a local Church Committee to formulate plans for the erection of a Mission Church. Rapid progress was made. Messrs. E. C. V. Broughton and Co., of Parramatta, donated three blocks of land in Arcadia Street, Merrylands West, which became the site of the Church building. Archdeacon Gunther secured a grant of £50 from the Church Society, and a similar sum was raised by local subscription.
The foundation stone was laid on Wednesday, 20th April, 1892, by the Archdeacon. Most of the work was completed by voluntary labour.
On Saturday, 28th May 1892, at 2:30pm, the building was officially opened and dedicated by the Archbishop of Sydney and Primate of Australia, William Saumarez Smith. He preached on the text, “Ye shall receive power, after the Holy Spirit is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem… and unto the uttermost parts of the earth” — Acts 1:8.
He stressed the need of personal witness to God’s Truth, and the influence for good of humble lives empowered by the Spirit of God. He congratulated the Committee, and prayed that the church would become a centre of blessing to the district.
There were several suggestions for a name – “St. Augustine’s”, “St. Barnabas’” and “St. Matthew’s”. The winner was, “St. Matthew’s Mission Church, Holroyd”.
The original building was thirty feet long and twenty feet wide, weatherboard, and roofed with Sherwood tiles, donated by Mr. J. Cook, of Sherwood Tile Co. Additions were made in 1901, when the Chancel and Trancepts were completed; and in 1902, the Vestry and Library were added. During 1910–11 the School Hall was built, and extended. The stained glass windows which originally stood in the Chancel (and are now located in our current building) were given in memory of Mr. F. G. Faber (1834–1898), an early committee member.
From 1892 to 1913, St. Matthew’s was part of the parish of St. John’s Parramatta.
In 1913, we joined with Christ Church, Guildford, to form the Conventional District of Guildford and Holroyd. In 1925 we joined the Parish of Guildford & Merrylands. Then in 1952 St. Matthew’s (including St. Aidan’s Greystanes) became part of the parish of St. Anne’s, Merrylands.
St. Matthew’s building moved to Ridge Street in 1972, after the sale of the Arcadia Street property and the branch church, St. Philip’s, in Frances Street.
Yet, details of buildings tell only a small portion of our story. Foundation stones and the like cannot tell us of the many men and women, boys and girls, who have come to trust the Lord Jesus as their friend and Saviour. This happened through the proclamation of his gospel – from the pulpit, in Sunday School and Scripture classes, in Bible study groups and individually.
The real St. Matthew’s is much more than buildings. As Paul wrote, “You are a letter from Christ… written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” – 2 Corinthians 3:2–3.
We can thank God for the faithful servants of Christ who have laboured for him in this place.
Why does St. Matthew’s exist as a church? To “declare the wonderful deeds of him who called [us] out of darkness into his marvellous light.” – 1 Peter 2:9.
That’s why we are here, and we would count it an honour to be able to share with you the wonderful message about Jesus.