Thornhill Church turns 130

THE community of Thornhill is abuzz with activity as members of the Holy Trinity Thornhill Church prepare to celebrate the church’s 130th anniversary next month.

Organiser and committee member Gill Perfect said there was a joyous mood in the community as the family church reached a major milestone.

She said Bishop Bethlehem Nopece would preside over the ceremony.

“The communion service will be on Sunday March 8, followed by a luncheon to be attended by dignitaries of the Anglican and Methodist fold, at the local Thornhill Hotel.

“This is quite fitting as the hotel is older than the church but still operates.

“Everyone is looking forward to the event. The bishop will put on his colourful regalia,” Perfect said.

Nestled between the Van Stadens and Gamtoos Rivers, Thornhill is a hive of agricultural development and was named after Christopher Thornhill who arrived in the area with the 1820 Settlers.

It is believed Thornhill’s son John started establishing a small community in 1835.

However, it took almost a further 50 years before the Thornhill church was built.

Originally known as the Van Stadens Church, the first service was held on December 21 1884 when the congregation of 120 members welcomed their first permanent minister, Reverent Arthur G Raynier. Due to the variety of religions in the area, it was decided an interdenominational church, served by the Anglican Church, was appropriate.

In 1946, the Methodist Church became part of this growing spiritual home with the name changed to the Thornhill Church in 1948.

“The church provides a spiritual home to a congregation of various ages. Many of the children who attend the Sunday School are from nearby Woodridge College, while others travel in from Gamtoos and Loerie to attend services,” Perfect said.

Thornhill Church now forms part of St John’s Parish, Port Elizabeth and makes use of mostly retired ministers on a rota basis with holy communion being offered fortnightly.

“The growth, maintenance and development of the church is a result of a strong core of longstanding members, many of them direct descendants of the church founders.”

-Hendrick Mphande