Headquarters Part 7

The vision and courage of those involved with the administration of GFS is shown by the way they took on the repayment of five thousand pounds on the GFS Headquarters because they believed the building was an essential part of the caring mission and outreach of GFS. It was to be just on 30 years before the building was finally free of debt in 1956 and this was only possible through the rent from the two shops on the ground floor, continuous fund raising by GFS members and regular financial support from the GFS Lodge Committee.

The fundraising took many forms. There were musical productions at His Majesty’s Theatre and the Perth Town Hall, with hundreds of people in the cast, GFS balls, river trips, fetes and many other functions held for the same purpose. In addition the GFS Associates’ Committee held monthly bridge parties at Headquarters towards the debt reduction.

The Depression years were very difficult ones, as shop rents had to be reduced, and for many years it was only possible to pay the interest on the loan. As time went on, there were heavy expenses for maintenance to the building, including repairs to the roof, replacement of wiring and pipes and painting. This was in addition to ‘day to day’ running costs.

In spite of the careful managing of funds that was needed, these years were also ones of great outreach for the Society, with large numbers of branches and over 1600 members in Perth Diocese alone. A great deal of social work was done in the community at that time and the proceeds from some of the musical productions were given to charity rather than being kept by the Society for debt reduction.

Although the clubs that operated from GFS Headquarters played an important part in the lives of countless people, there were many other ways in which the building was used. There were socials, wedding receptions, exhibitions, leader training, rallies for country members , Synod teas, orphans’ parties, craft classes, mission film nights and countless other activities. It was the centre for co-ordinating the work of the caravan for 17 years and also for welfare work by GFS during the Depression years. There was a committee formed at Headquarters to help those in need of clothes and many hundreds of garments were prepared and given to Deaconess Genders to distribute in her district or to the Diocesan Secretary to help those who came to the building for help. These included many unemployed girls who had heard of the GFS centre and appealed for assistance. Several hundred of these were found jobs during this time.

Others helped were invalid members of the Society, who did beautiful church needlework or made knitted, crocheted or hand-stitched garments which were displayed in a glass case at Headquarters and orders taken without any charge made for the service.

There were many others who used the Headquarters building apart from GFS. For many years during the 1940s the Mothers’ Union had a room there until they moved to Church Office in 1949. In 1968, when plans for rebuilding left them homeless, GFS welcomed them back to their Headquarters for several years and there was a very happy relationship always between the two organisations. CEBS and CEGS also had offices in the building for a number of years. GFS was keen to help in this way by providing economical accommodation for fellow church organisations. The building sometimes saw ‘welcomes’ to new Archbishops and other church dignitaries. (There were 85 GFS leaders present at a welcome to Archbishop Geoffrey Sambell.) There was usually a farewell function at Headquarters when the wife of the Governor, who was always the Patron of GFS, left the State.

The building was a nurturing place for some new organisations needing a large, central meeting room. Amongst these were the Rhythmic Girls League, Alcoholics Anonymous, an orchestra and sports clubs.

One of the rooms overlooking Hay Street was made into a beautiful little chapel and was used for that purpose for many years.

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