August Meeting

Important: See special notice re meeting and stay alert to any changes in covid restriction.

Friday 6 August 7.30pm

Dr David Hilliard

A view from the pew: worship and preaching in 1890s Adelaide

Adelaide in the late nineteenth century had a distinctive religious culture, with a high proportion of non-Anglican Protestants (mostly Methodists, Baptists and Congregationalists) and a high level of regular churchgoing. Preaching was at the centre of Protestant worship; therefore a large proportion of the people of Adelaide listened to a sermon every week. However, apart from occasional reports of particular sermons in the daily newspapers, we know very little about their content and the experience of those in the pews who listened to them.  

One valuable source of evidence is a series of articles called ‘Round the Churches’ published in the weekly paper Quiz and the Lantern in 1894–95. Every Sunday for 14 months the editor of the paper, Harry Evans, writing under the pen-name of ‘Quiz’, attended 58 services in churches of all major denominations in the city of Adelaide and its suburbs and wrote a vivid, sometimes waspish, account of what he saw and heard.

Dr James Jefferis, minister of Brougham Place Congregational Church, 1859–77, 1894–1901, c.1866. State Library of South Australia B47753

David Hilliard’s presentation will examine these accounts of church services and sermons and what they show us about typical Christian worship in Adelaide in the 1890s.

David Hilliard taught History at Flinders University for over 30 years, retiring in 2002 as an Associate Professor. He has published books, book chapters and articles on many different areas of the religious history of Australia, and especially of South Australia. He is a member of the editorial committee of the Journal of the Historical Society of South Australia. In 2015 he was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for his service to education through the study of the history of religion.