My book Why Religions Work explores religious tolerance issues. It could not be more relevant at the moment with the world in its present state.
This blog has concentrated recently on the wonderful pilgrimages I have been on - to the Holy Land and to Turkey and more recently to Holy Georgia , Greece "In the Steps of St Paul" , Ethiopia and most recently my experiences in Iran.

"If I was allowed another life I would go to all the places of God's Earth. What better way to worship God than to look on all his works?" from The Chains of Heaven: an Ethiopian Romance Philip Marsden

Friday, 12 December 2014

Adelaide SA City of Churches - the Flinders Street Baptist Church

Into Jesus
In the city
 That is the proud mission statement on the cover of the welcome leaflet to the Flinders Street Baptist Church in Adelaide City of Churches. The trouble was, I had to gain entrance to the church before I could pick up the leaflet, and that was not particularly easy to do. Which is a shame, because the church is definitely worth a visit. 

I had walked past this church several times during my pilgrimage to visit all the churches of Adelaide SA. The board outside told me and other passers by that it would be open on Tuesdays between 1.00pm and 2.0pm for a free concert. That is fine if you want to sit through the concert, but hardly conducive to anyone who simply wants to look at the church itself, or take a few moments of silence for quiet reflection and prayer. OK - the board tells us that if we want to do that the church is open again on Wednesdays from 12 noon to 2pm - just two hours in six days each week (discounting Sunday when it is of course open for its weekly services - which are very well attended - 100 or so I was told).
This certainly seems a very busy and flourishing church judging by the same welcoming leaflet: a special program for children, called Buzz, during the morning service; weekly English language classes for those whose first language is not English; and several different home groups meeting regularly, such as the fellowship group, a book club, and groups focusing on the needs of youth and young adults. 
Now I did finally manage to make it to Adelaide during that Wednesday window of opportunity and had a most fascinating conversation with the person on duty, a former minister to the church, after which I was able to stroll around, take photos, and pick up the aforementioned welcoming leaflet, together with "A Brief History." But the atmosphere was hardly conducive to simply taking my own private time for prayer, meditation or quiet reflection, always conscious of someone at the front of the church on "security duty." And they claim to be a community which is "open and hospitable... which reaches out to others."
It is also a shame that the Brief History notes are not anywhere on the website - or not that I could find anyway. The church, which opened for worship in 1863, and is heritage-listed, is noteworthy for: its gallery or balcony installed in 1873 to cope with the 500 or so congregation plus 500 scholars in the Sunday School; a rather magnificent pipe organ, the baptistry designed and indeed used for total immersion baptism; its links with Global Interaction (formerly the Australian Baptist Missionary Society) as recognized by plaques in the church: and some interesting stained glass windows including a rather beautiful rose window under the balcony.
Some day soon, when I come to the end of my Adelaide Churches pilgrimage, I am going to have a rant about closed churches - so watch this space. And meanwhile if you would like to contribute to that particular debate, whether about the churches in Adelaide or anywhere else across the world, I would really love to have your comments. In fact please leave your comments anyway! I know that lots of you out there are reading this series - I would love to hear from some of you. 


  1. Eleanor, I'm enjoying catching up on your latest pilgrimage! I've been quite busy the past two months and have hardly had time to keep up with online activities, including my own blogs.
    Apropos the closed churches issue, in the U.S., churches are also closed most of the time during the week, unless there is a social event (usually on either Wednesday or Saturday evening). So I guess the Aussies are more like the Americans in mistrusting strangers who wander into public buildings.
    I'm not sure whether or not I gave you the link to a blog series I did on an organ tour in Southern France (le Midi). One of the people on the tour was an Australian who recorded several of the organ concerts we heard in the churches. He posted them on YouTube, and I linked several of his recordings in my blog series. If you haven't seen it, it begins here:

    1. So sorry I didn't respond to this sooner JoAnne - yes I passed the link to our organist and he loved it. Thanks for sharing. I need to get this series going again - I havn't finished with Adelaide churches yet but have been busy and away and writing other things. All best wishes

    2. Eleanor, good to touch base with you. I, too, have let my blogs lapse. Holidays and then a terrible bout of the flu had me sleeping a lot. And just recently, I've been working on getting together a book of short stories for a couple of contests here in the U.S. Should get back to blogging soon.
      BTW, I got a strange FB message from someone who claimed to be you but I don't think was. Have you had any trouble with your Facebook account?