News Release

New Congregation Linked to Australia’s Mormon History

A new Latter-day Saint congregation was formed on Sunday, 20 July 2014, in the South Australian coastal town where the first Mormon missionary sent to Australia was buried.  
The new leader of the Victor Harbor Branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Boyd Fitton, explains the link that Victor Harbor has with early Mormon history.

 “The first missionary sent to Australia was William Barratt, a 17-year-old convert from Britain who arrived in Adelaide in 1840, keen to share his faith and lend a hand in the fledgling community,” Mr Fitton said.
Adelaide was settled by Europeans just four years before that, and the Church was organized only ten years earlier, so the new missionary was pioneering on many fronts.
“Barratt was called to be a full time missionary in Australia and ordained an Elder by Apostle George A. Smith. He baptized only one known person, Robert Beauchamp, who was eventually called as the president of the Latter-day Saint Australian Mission,” Mr Fitton said.
William Barratt never returned home after his missionary service and went on to marry and farm in the Inman Valley. He and his wife Ann Gibson had seven children, three boys and four girls. He died on September 1890 at age 67. His tombstone was discovered by researchers in the 1980’s at Victor Harbor cemetery.
President Fitton said, “I appreciate that little known link to the past and a visit to the grave of William Barratt is definitely on my to-do list.”
Latter-day Saint historian Marjorie A. Newton has researched and published widely on Church history in Australia and New Zealand.  Read more about William Barratt in an article written by Marjorie Newton.
The Victor Harbor Branch is one of eight congregations in the Latter-day Saints’ Adelaide Australia Marion Stake. A Latter-day Saint stake is a group of congregations in a geographic region.  
Branch members and visitors will hold worship services in Victor Harbor’s Recreation Centre. Prior to the new branch being formed, members traveled up to an hour to the Church’s Noarlunga chapel. 
President Fitton, his wife Sarah and their four sons have lived at nearby Hayborough for three years. He works full time as a physiotherapist and said, “I am surprised and pleased by the assignment in the Victor Harbor Branch.  Ours is a lay ministry so almost everyone has a responsibility within the Church."   
“To lead the new branch was a little unexpected, but I have great people to work with, and a very supportive wife. My time as a missionary in Kiribati gave me insights into how to help others.”  President Fitton will be assisted by counselors Michael Thornton and Robert Stewart.


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