St Andrew's Church in Walcha is the oldest building standing in the town and the oldest church in the Armidale Anglican Diocese, and it is in desperate need of salvation.
The building is in a state of disrepair and has not been used since the 1990s; however, a group of residents want to change this and bring the building back to life.
They have begun to raise $50,000 to put towards work to save the building and its historic stained glass windows.
Each week I tell the story behind a window
Esther Elizabeth Laird has a window dedicated to her and raised by subscription as a testimony to her service at the church of St Andrew's, Walcha where she served from 1862 when the building was completed to 1901 as Verger. A verger is an official in a church who acts as caretaker and attendant.
She was baptised Esther Elizabeth Chandler on 1st January 1826, one of nine children of James Chandler and his wife Sarah (nee Booker) at Minster on the Isle of Thanet Kent. This is not the same family from which other Walcha Chandlers are descended. On 13th December 1846 she married at the parish church, Minster John Fuller and had by him four children, Jane 1848-1930 (who married George Wilkins ), Sarah, born aboard the 'Lord Stanley' 1850-1928, Emma 1852-1919 and Thomas 1855-1858.
The family emigrated to Australia arriving in Sydney on 26th August 1850. John Fuller died at Maitland on 3rd February 1856.
Esther then married James Smith on 1st January 1858 at West Maitland and five more children were born namely Letitia 1858-1934, Ashton James 1860-1954, Amelia 1862-1936, William Chandler 1864-1906 and James Thomas 1867-1868. It was James Smith who brought her to Walcha. Unfortunately James Smith also died on 11th August 1867 at Walcha and Elizabeth was again a widow with a young family. She married James Laird at St Paul's Walcha (the former name of the Anglican Church) on 5th October 1868.
James Laird died in Walcha on 22nd July 1885. Many birth certificates of Walcha citizens born in that era had Mrs Laird as the midwife. She was highly esteemed in the community. Esther died on 8th August 1913.
The window has the inscription "One thing is needful. Mary hath chosen that good part" This refers to Mary, sister of Lazarus whom Jesus rose from the dead found in the gospel of Luke, chapter 10 verse 42. The dedication is as follows: 'A.M.D.G And in commemoration of the faithful service of ESTHER ELIZABETH LAIRD Verger 1862 to 1901 this window is erected in 1902 '
The windows are constructed of two lights with the canopy section stacked upon the lower rectangle. The use of quite thin leads has resulted in some movement away from the glass edges although the windows appear to be fairly sound. The LHS window has a crack in the blue robe
The RHS has a crack through the upper inscription panel. These windows only need cleaning, repair of cracks and some re-puttying. There are many descendants of Ether Elizabeth Chandler in and outside of Walcha.
Spread the word to donate through the Regional Australia Bank BSB 932000, Account 10084339