During the last weeks of 1849, ten families comprising 37 people were brought from Germany to Australia on the sailing vessel 'Emmy' by Dr Thomson, the mayor of Geelong. These settled on land about 7 kilometres south of Geelong. Blocks of two acres were bought at £20 (pounds) per block. Within the next four years the number of families increased to twenty. The settlement was called 'Germantown' (later, 'Grovedale', in 1917). They were vine-dressers and soon established vignerons and market gardens on both sides of Torquay Rd.
A Lutheran congregation was formed at 'Germantown' in 1854. A church was built of bluestone in 1858/59 and dedicated December 26, 1859. After only eight years the congregation split and divided into two (St Paul's and Trinity). Membership at Trinity declined substantially over time and the congregation dissolved in 1949. The remaining members joined St John's, Geelong. Worship services of the St Paul's congregation were first held in the school which had been erected in 1854. This school was the first Lutheran school in Victoria. Later a church was erected, the foundation stone being laid on 13 December, 1870 and dedicated on 26 March, 1871, free of debt, in the presence of 300 people.
Soon after 'Germantown' was founded, another settlement was established at Freshwater Creek where by 1859 there were enough settlers to warrant the building of their own church, 'Waldkirch', the 'church in the woods'. Many of these German settlers began as carters, first to the goldfields, then carting timber to Geelong. They became landowners and were established along both sides of Thomson's Creek, subsisting partly by farming their land and selling firewood as they cleared it.
St John's, Yarra St, Geelong
Services began in 1908. Membership increased very slowly during the next twenty years. Geelong was a preaching place until a congregation was organised in April, 1926. For more than twenty years members worshipped in a rented hall in Ryrie St. A valuable property in Yarra St was acquired in May 1946. A large number of people attended the dedication of the church on December 17, 1948. The two-storeyed manse adjacent to the church was erected in 1952 and dedicated on January 18, 1953.
St James, Norlane
As the result of the immigration policy of the Commonwealth government, thousands of immigrants came to Geelong. It is estimated that in 1954 10% of its population was immigrant. Among these were many Lutherans. These people presented a challenge to the Geelong and Grovedale parishes served by Pastors JA Paech and JM Larsen. Soon after his installation on May 28 1950, Pastor Paech began to work among immigrants in Norlane and other parts of the Geelong area. Many attended the German services and also enrolled their children in the Sunday School and the confirmation classes. Monthly services on German were also conducted in the Anglican church at Ocean Grove.
In Norlane some 1500 homes were built by the Housing Commission of Victoria. Many of these were rented and later bought by immigrants. While the erection of homes was still in progress in Norlane, Pastor Paech applied to the Housing Commission for the purchase of three allotments in Sparks Road. The application was granted and these
allotments were purchased by the District in 1956 for the low price of 1,012 pounds.
At the end of 1958, 290 baptised and 120 confirmed persons were listed for the Norlane preaching place. In addition to Norlane and Ocean Grove, Pastor Strelan's field included Colac. In 1961 Camperdown was added. The services at Ocean Grove ceased in 1963.
The erection of a building for church purposes became a matter of great urgency. Early in 1957 as many as 270 children were enrolled in the St John's Saturday School of which 200 were children of immigrants. The congregation hired buses to convey the children to the school and back to their homes. About twenty teachers taught the children in fourteen classes.
Following a resolution at the 1957 Tabor District Convention and a generous response to an appeal for contributions from congregations, about 8,000 pounds was received. A tender for 8,500 pounds was accepted. The total cost including furniture and equipment was about 10,000 pounds.
A worship centre was established and dedicated on May 18, 1958. Several hundred people were in attendance. The District also bought a manse in the vicinity for 4100 pounds which was later sold in 1965 for 3,500 pounds and a new manse erected for 5,541 pounds on one of allotments bought from the Housing Commission. This was dedicated on January 25 1965.
Pastor DT Strelan accepted the call and was installed at Norlane on May 25 1958.
St Peters, Bell Park
During the first six months of 1937, services were conducted in a hall in Newtown, but were discontinued. During the following years a few Lutheran families of the UELCA came to Geelong and they joined St Paul's congregation at Grovedale. Owing to severe rationing of petrol during the Second World War, they expressed a wish to have services held in Geelong.
A meeting of interested persons was held on May 21, 1941. Pastor H Minke of the Grovedale parish and six other people attended. The name of the congregation chosen was Bethel. The first service of the new congregation was held on June 22, 1941, in a room of the Band of Hope building in Ryrie St. After August 29 1943 services were also held in the old Anglican church on the corner of Normanby and McKillop Streets, East Geelong until 22nd October, 1950.
Pastor JM Larsen who was later installed in the Grovedale parish held services for about four years in the Anglican Social Hall and an ante room of that hall as the Anglican church was no longer available. The next place of worship used was the Congregational church in Gheringhap Street. The first service was to be a Reformation Festival on the 29th October 1950. Services were conducted both in English and German.
In 1958 the congregation bought an allotment in Bell Park with a private loan of 400 pounds. In place of this land, a more suitable but costly site was bought in
Ballarat Road and in October 1959 the erection of a church centre began. During construction over 8,000 hours of voluntary labour were given by members. On December 18 1960 Pastor Larsen conducted the last service in the Congregational church.
On February 21, 1960, the name of the congregation was changed from Bethel to St Peters. The church centre was dedicated on May 7, 1961. About 250 people werepresent. The total cost was about 5,000 pounds which the District contributed 1,950 pounds.
Following union of the two Lutheran Churches in Australia in 1966, the Colac and Camperdown congregations were included in the Grovedale parish, while the Bell Park congregation severed its connections with St Paul's, Grovedale, and joined with St James, Norlane, to form a new parish. St Philip's congregation, Werribee, joined the parish in 1968 but later joined the Footscray parish in 1971.
Our Redeemer, North Geelong
St James, Norlane and St Peters, Bell Park continued for many years as a two point parish. With the shift in population from the Norlane area, numbers dropped dramatically. On October 6, 1985, the St James congregation ceased and St James and St Peters merged to become Our Redeemer on October 13. The worship centre was located in the Bell Park church hall. A decision was taken to close the Norlane centre. Therefore the manse and church building at Norlane were sold separately and the final service at Norlane was held on April 21, 1991. A new church was built next to the church hall at North Geelong, which formally ceased to be a worship centre on July 26, 1992. The new church complex was dedicated on August 2, 1992.
A residence was acquired at 8 Quamby Avenue, Hamlyn Heights in February, 1994 for Pastor and family. This was sold in April 2002 .In September 1996; the congregation purchased the adjoining property at 64-66 Ballarat Road formerly a Shell service station. A new manse at 29 Stoddart St Hamlyn Heights was built on the land adjoining during 2002 and was dedicated on 2nd November 2003.
A further project of the congregation was the extension of the Sunday school rooms which were dedicated on 2nd November 2003.
Monthly worship services were also held in member's homes and the Bannockburn school as well as occasionally in the Beachfront Motel in Apollo Bay.
From 19 November, 1995, worship services commenced in the Uniting Church at Lara and the first Sunday School was held on 17 March, 2002.
On Sunday 4 August 2002, a worship service was held celebrating the tenth anniversary of the dedication of the new church complex (2 August 1992).
On Sunday 9 October 2005, a worship service was held celebrating the twentieth anniversary of 'Our Redeemer' congregation.
Barry Gladigau 2 September 1984 until 14 December 1986
James Pietsch 6 December 1987 until 19 December 1993
Peter Kriewaldt 5 February 1994 until 1 July 2007
Lester Priebbenow 27 January 2008 until 25 December 2016
Boyd Briese from 22 April 2018.
Some Features of Our Church:
Lead - Light Windows
One of the main interior features is the four lead - light windows in the front (the Chancel).
These tell of God's plan of salvation. To the far left we see God the Creator and that in the beginning darkness ruled the earth, but all is not lost. We are reminded of God's covenant - his promise of a Saviour. Next we see the promise fulfilled.
The window shows us the Sunlight of the World reminding us of 'the Son' who is the light of the world and who has delivered us from the darkness into his glorious light. The cross, the central and focal point, shows God, The Redeemer. The heart of the cross shows the empty tomb and from it flows streams of living water to the four corners of the earth. The window to the right of the cross depicts God The Sanctifier, the holy sprit in the form of a dove, descending on the Church through healing, comfort and teaching.
The handmade hammered copper cross (covering a timber frame) at the rear of the church was part of the original design of the former St Peter's church structure.
Is a George Fincham pipe organ (1887) formerly from the Ashby Methodist Church, Manifold Heights, Geelong and was dedicated on 15 August, 1993. This organ was made possible by a generous donor. Its relocation piece by piece was supervised by Bob Nitschke who with the help of Doug Price spent much time and effort in the rebuilding of this fine organ.
The Bell Tower:
The unique bell tower houses a brass bell obtained from Germany which was made available by generous donors.
On Sunday 13 December, 1998, a new brick based wayside pulpit was dedicated to the glory of God by Pastor Peter Kriewaldt. The structure which has an illuminated cross brings messages of hope to our community as well as identifying the presence of 'Our Redeemer '. The project is a thank offering for the life of the late Mr W.L.A. Schulze. The Schulze families and other members of the congregation financed this by donation.
Former Altar Slab:
The former St Peter's altar slab was positioned on a frame in the front garden area in May 2002.
Short Version - Revised July 2008