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Celebrating 100 Years of Helping Others

Marking the centenary of the establishment of the Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Victoria, Australia

Alice Watson, Cardinia Interfaith Network secretary, recently wrote "A walk through Victoria’s Latter-day Saints' history" for Melbourne's Cranbourne News and Bairnsdale Advertiser newspapers.

On Saturday 10 July for the centenary celebration of the establishment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Relief Society in Victoria, about 100 people from Pakenham and Cranbourne toured historic buildings in Melbourne.

The Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the one of the oldest and largest women’s charitable organisations in the world.

Formed in 1842 in Nauvoo, Illinois, USA, it now has a worldwide reach and involvement in many international humanitarian aid projects.

The group first visited 21 Ramsden St, Clifton Hill, where the sisters of the Melbourne branch Relief Society hosted their first meeting on 5 July 1921.

From here, current Gippsland Stake (diocese) president Graham Smith and several Relief Society sisters walked the seven kilometres to 21 Pine St, Hawthorn, home of Emma Watts Galloway (1848-1941) who hosted Sunday meetings.

Emma, with Christlike generosity, often pushed her pram full of food and drink to refresh the brethren and missionaries working 3.4km away, on the construction site of the East Melbourne Chapel at 52 Albert St, the first Latter-day Saint chapel to be built and dedicated in Melbourne, in 1922.

Alistair Woodford, currently a member of Latrobe Valley branch of the Church, with his wife Mary, explained a little of the history of 21 Pine St which he visits from time to time. It was built in 1880 by his great-great-grandfather, William Galloway, Emma’s husband.

Originally from Scotland, William migrated via New York to Australia on 6 June 1864. Alistair’s father Eric Raymond Woodford was born in 1935 at 21 Pine St, and later renovated the bathroom.

President Smith said, "To think that people used walk all that way to Church and do it all again the next day. In America, the people have Palmyra and Nauvoo (Church history sites). These Melbourne buildings are our equivalent of Palmyra and Nauvoo."

“People here thought what they did was ordinary and insignificant but actually it was very valuable. Their descendants are still in the Church today.”

After taking a few photos together and feeling gratitude for their forebears, current church members enjoyed a delicious picnic meal together, in glorious Saturday afternoon winter sunshine, at the adjacent Powlett Park Reserve on Albert St.

They even feasted on fruit pushed in a pram between sites during the walk, to replicate the generosity and effort of Emma Galloway.

Read more about the Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Victoria, Australia, here.

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.