Parramatta Mission provides assistance to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in our communities to assist them in transforming their lives. These include people who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, facing crisis and people living with mental illness.
Parramatta Mission is a part of the Uniting Church in Australia.
Parramatta Mission respectfully acknowledges the Burramattagal people of the Darug nation – for many thousands of years the traditional custodians of the lands on which we gather. We also pay our respect to Burramattagal elders past, present and emerging.
Archaeology conducted near Parramatta Mission’s Macquarie Street site in 2017-18 yielded evidence of multiple Aboriginal campfires (or ‘hearths’) – and the traditional use of ‘Parramatta Square’ as a ‘gathering place’ for people seeking company and connection. In recognition of our site’s indigenous history, Leigh Memorial Church commissioned and installed an original painting, Buraga (‘Arise’) by Darug Custodian Aboriginal Corporation artist, Leanne ‘Mulgo’ Watson, in 2019.
In the era following European occupation, Parramatta Mission has accrued an over 200 year history of community outreach, care and support services dedicated to ‘transforming lives’. Situated in the heart of Parramatta and providing services to the people of Sydney’s West since the opening of the first Wesleyan Methodist Chapel at Macquarie Street in 1821, the Mission has demonstrated a long-ranging commitment to the principles of community care, inclusion and an ‘open door’ welcome to all.
The first Wesleyan Chapel at Macquarie Street was the second site of organised Christian worship in Parramatta, constructed by convict labour and funded by Rev Walter Lawry (second Wesleyan missionary to NSW in 1818) and his Parramatta-born wife, Mrs Mary Lawry (nee Hassall). It was eventually demolished to make way for a much larger, second Chapel on the site (opened in 1839 and known as ‘Macquarie Hall’). The second Chapel enjoyed a rich culture of congregation and local community participation and service, with congregation and Sunday School memberships numbering in the many hundreds.
‘Leigh Memorial’ is the third Church on the Mission’s Parramatta site. It was opened in 1885 and named in honour of the Mission’s pioneer minister, Rev Samuel Leigh (1785–1852) – who conducted the first Wesleyan mission in NSW from 1815 (including an early ministry on horseback in Sydney’s Greater West) – and New Zealand’s first Wesleyan Methodist Mission from 1819. Leigh Memorial Church remains in active use, and is now one of the few remaining heritage buildings in the Parramatta CBD. It is considered a fine example of Victorian Gothic/ vintage English Methodist architecture.
In 1971, the Parramatta Methodist Circuit (incorporating sites at Parramatta and Westmead) became known as ‘Parramatta Regional Mission’ – a move that opened the way for a significant expansion of its community services to meet the needs of the rapidly expanding, multicultural and poly-faith urban demographic of Sydney’s West.
In 1977, Parramatta Mission’s Methodist congregations joined with other Methodist Presbyterian and Congregational congregations in Australia to form a new church: The Uniting Church in Australia (UCA). The Uniting Church describes itself as ‘a community of people following Jesus and God’s call to live with Love, Grace and Hope in the World’ – and operating within three indivisible, historical hallmarks: worship, witness and service.
In 1991, the Leigh Fijian congregation officially joined Parramatta Mission and the Westmead congregation established its new site at Queens Road – opposite Westmead Hospital and alongside the Mission’s hospitality venture, ‘175’ (‘175 One Hotels and Apartments’ which commenced as ‘Wesley Lodge’ Motel in 1979). The Mission has also subsequently come to include a Korean Faith Community.
In 2009, the Parramatta Mission Heritage Committee (incorporating representatives of all the Mission congregations) was formed to celebrate, share and preserve the Mission’s rich history for future generations. As of 2022, the PM Heritage Committee has overseen the production of 25 books and articles – most of which are lodged with Parramatta Mission, UCA, local, state and national libraries.
In 2021, Parramatta Mission celebrated 200 years since the opening of its first Chapel, and the 30th anniversaries of the Leigh Fijian congregation and the Westmead congregation at Queens Road. In the same year, a number of the Mission’s previous community services were transferred to the auspices of ‘Uniting’ and a broader transformative process for the Mission and its congregations commenced.
From the mid-2010s, the Mission’s Parramatta and Westmead sites have been variously impacted by construction work taking place in Parramatta Square, the Westmead medical precinct and the Light Rail and Metro Rail networks. ‘The Gathering Place’ – a bespoke new building for the Mission’s Parramatta site (nicknamed ‘The Banksia’) is currently in the planning.
Below are links to some of our history resources, plus articles for further reading. NB: All Parramatta Mission heritage resources (written and photographic) are copyright protected. “Thank you” to our friends and supporters.
Heritage enquiries: LeighMemorialUniting@gmail.com
SPARK OF GRACE – A HISTORY OF PARRAMATTA MISSION (1815 – 1977)
THE SPROUTING COCONUT – LEIGH FIJIAN CONGREGATION HISTORY (2011)
THE WESTMEAD STORY – WESTMEAD CONGREGATION HISTORY (2011)
ADRIU ROGOIMURI BIOGRAPHY – FIJIAN LANGUAGE EDITION (2014)
SAMUEL LEIGH: PARRAMATTA MISSION PIONEER, 1815–2015 (200th ANNIVERSARY COMMEMORATION) (2015)
KINDLED BY A SPARK OF GRACE – GLOSTER UDY BIOGRAPHY (2016)
LAWRY – CELEBRATING THE 200th ANNIVERSARY OF REV WALTER LAWRY AT PARRAMATTA MISSION (1818 – 2018) (May 2018)
SAMUEL LEIGH – FIRST WESLEYAN MISSIONARY TO AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND (2019)
FAITHFUL COADJUTOR: CATHERINE LEIGH – BIOGRAPHICAL ESSAY (2019)
LITTLE BABE: ELIZABETH LAWRY/ LAWRY FAMILY – BIOGRAPHICAL ESSAY (2020)
LUMINOUS – THE STAINED GLASS HISTORY OF LEIGH MEMORIAL CHURCH (2019)
PEACEFUL WITNESS – THE LIFE & WITNESS OF THE LEIGH MEMORIAL CONGREGATION, 2014 – 2020 (2020)
ALL LOVES EXCELLING – THE STORY OF PARRAMATTA’S FIRST WESLEYAN METHODIST CHAPEL & SUNDAY SCHOOL (200th ANNIVERSARY – 1821-2021) (2021)
WE WILL REMEMBER THEM – THE FIRST & SECOND WORLD WARS and BETWEEN THE WARS, PARRAMATTA MISSION 1914 – 1945
THE WESTMEAD JOURNEY – FROM COTSWOLD TO QUEENS (2021)
VOICES FOR THE COMMON GOOD – MISSIONARIES AND MINISTERS OF PARRAMATTA MISSION IN THE 19th AND 20th CENTURIES (2021)
TOLU DECADES – A COLLECTION OF TALANOA: LEIGH FIJIAN CONGREGATION OF PARRAMATTA MISSION, 1991–2021 (2021)
THE BOY FROM THE MANGROVE SWAMP: ADRIU ROGOIMURI AUTOBIOGRAPHY – ENGLISH LANGUAGE EDITION (2021)