Penong says goodbye to St Alphege's church

The Penong community said goodbye to St Alphege's Anglican Church last weekend with a final service.

The church closed after more than 100 years of mass, weddings, christenings and funerals, with the congregation gathering for one final baptism of Storm Samuel Shipard, the youngest son of Sam and Allison Shipard.

The service was well attended by community members bidding farewell to the church and supporting Storm's baptism.

Church committee member Marls Shipard was present and said it was a bittersweet occasion.

"It was a wonderful day and the church was full to witness the deconsecration and the baptism," she said.

"It was sad knowing this would be the last service in the church, but it was a wonderful baptism and then the Penong Hotel provided a fabulous lunch.

"It was a chance to celebrate the church life that we have had and all enjoyed themselves from what I saw and heard, and the community pulled together."

She said the church building would now be put up for sale.

Leading the deconsecration service was the Venerable Gail Johannsen, a former Anglican priest at Ceduna who returned for the service from Gladstone.

She was assisted by the present priest, Reverend Barry Luke.

Storm was presented for baptism by his godparents Brad and Katrina Thomas, before being baptised with water from the original marble baptismal font.

The secularisation of the church building was a moving and sentimental experience for those who have been associated with the current building since it opened in 1961.

The original St Alphege's church was opened in 1909.

Former resident and parishioner Jon Shipard was called to read the document of deconsecration, before the declaration of secularisation was read by the Venerable Johannsen.

She then extinguished the candles and removed the altar cross before presenting it to the Anglican Church verger Bob Skinner. 

The rest of the items on the altar were removed, before the final blessing and dismissal.

Jon Shipard then asked the congregation to sign the vestry book as a record of the last attendees at the final service, while a group photo was also taken to mark the occasion.

Sam and Alli Shipard invited the congregation to join them at the Penong Hotel, where everybody enjoyed lunch and Storm's christening cake for sweets.