In March of 1903, these spiritualist pioneers met at the Mechanics' Institute at the corner of Sydney and Glenlyon. The banner that hangs above the platform in the present-day Brunswick Church was originally painted for their inaugural meeting on March 1st, 1903. The banner, restored in 1995, depicts a scene from the picture, "Life's Morning and Evening." The hall was crowded that first day as the many enthusiastic Spiritualists sung the opening hymn, "Life is Onward."
A new "Children's Spiritualistic Lyceum" was inaugurated at Brunswick. The Lyceum movement had become a great success and the education of the children and their understanding of the principles of Spiritualism were an integral factor in their growth and in the growth of the church. With children as the central focus at the Lyceum, they were taught both spiritual and material values. Initially, the children were divided into six groups and later the children would be divided into twelve groups with colours that identified them below.
Fountain - 4 years – Red
Stream – 5 years – Pearl
River – 6 years – Orange
Lake – 7 years – Lilac
Sea – 8 years – Yellow
Ocean – 9 years – Purple
Shore – 10 years – Green
Beacon – 11 years – Blue
Banner – 12 years – Crimson
Star – 13 years – Azure
Excelsior – 14 years – Violet
Liberty – 15 and upward – White
The textbook that the children used was the Lyceum Manual, Eighth Children's Edition, published by the British Spiritualist's Lyceum Union.
The following is a Silver Chain Recitation from the book:
The people of the Spirit-spheres are taught upon this plan.
And what is good for Angels, surely must be good for man.
This glorious scheme is not a dream, but of angelic birth.
And by its peaceful teaching, will make heaven upon earth.
Beyond the teachings of the children, visiting and homegrown speakers engaged members and visitors in the evenings and mornings through the early years of the Bunswick Spiritual Lyceum Church. Regular engagements and lantern lectures helped the church prosper and develop in the Mechanic's Institute. Brunswick speakers were sent to other meetings in other areas, too. "It is an oft repeated assertion of the clergy that a church which takes no interest in spiritual life beyond its own borders is already decaying," was the philosophy. Dedication, hard work, and faith helped the church prosper.
In 1910 a contract was signed with a local builder for the construction of our very own hall – the first Spiritualist hall in Australia. The newly-constructed, Bunswick Spiritual Lyceum Church welcomed its first gathering on August 21st, 1910. Classes continued and the mediums' circle grew, with Oahspe classes becoming more and more popular. The Conductor of the time, J.P. Newborough, was regarded as the "perfect jewel." A newsletter spoke of the day, "Luck, says the worldly man, - no! we answer, not luck, but His very Presence that has led us onward!"
The church prospered through the enthusiasm and faith of the people. Regular Sunday services, at-home services, medium circles, Oahspe classes, and circle meetings were conducted and the women of the church formed their own Lyceum Club. Even a Lyceum Debating Club was created around 1911. In 1919, an organ was purchased and then later a piano in 1930. In 1932, the Bunswick Spiritual Lyceum Church was able to begin making annual donations to the Children's Hospital - which we continue to do to this day.
In the 1970's, we helped lobby to have Spiritualism become recognized as an official religion in Australia and succeeded. From that point on, our Ministers and church have been regarded as a recognized denomination. As the years went on, the Bunswick Spiritual Lyceum Church recognized their social responsibility and took an active role in demonstrating their community awareness. We began our "Spiritual Children's Christmas Tree" in 1980, where members and friends leave gifts under the tree for underprivileged mothers and children.
Today, members of the Brunswick Spiritual Lyceum Church continue the vision, faith and enthusiasm of the pioneering and dedicated spiritualists who first met in the halls and private homes of Victoria at the turn of the 20th century. Members and visitors have been helping maintain Brunswick as a viable Spiritual Church since 1903.