C04 – The Church Jubilee


The celebrations began with a Tea and Reminiscence Night on Saturday, 8th October, 1938, at 6.00pm. Chairman for the evening was Rev. R. S. Pickup, and the speakers were Rev. F. Robinson and J. E. Leech. On Sunday, 9th October, a Sunday School Anniversary was celebrated. Visiting speakers filled the pulpit: Rev. J. Robertson, at the l1.00am service, Rev. A. H. Orr, at the 3.00pm service and Rev. W. Cleugh Black, at the 7.15pm service, On Tuesday, 11th October, there was a Young People’s Night, which was chaired by the Pastor, Rev. J. D. Mill, and the speaker was Rev. S. A. McDonald. On Thursday, 13th October, the church celebrated with a Musical Festival with a choral performance by the united choirs of the Parramatta and Granville Baptist Churches choirs. On Saturday, 15th October, Missionary Rallies were held at 3.00pm, 6.15pm and 8.00pm, with speakers from China, India, Palestine and British Guiana. On Sunday, 16th October, the Church Jubilee proper was celebrated. Speakers were: Rev. J. H. Deane, at the 11.00am service, and Dr. Northcote Deck at the 3.00pm and 7.15pm services. On Monday, 17th to Thursday, 20th October, “Meetings For Deepening Of Spiritual Life” were conducted by Dr. Northcote Deck. It was a time of great local joy and rejoicing in the midst of a national stress and strife with all the pressures of the war so real to the country.

At a special Church Meeting on 25th April, 1936, the church had voted in favor of the purchase of a property immediately next door to the church buildings; a two storied building occupied by the Balmain Co-operative for 800.0.0. A loan from the Australian Mutual Provident Society was contracted for the purchase and repair of the building. The building was purchased and repairs completed and the words ‘JESUS SAVES’ painted on the three parapets of the building in large black letters. On Saturday, 20th March, 1937, the building was officially opened and named ‘The Baptist Jubilee Hall.’ In June, 1939, internal alterations were carried out in the church building; a new baptistry was erected.

Rev. Mill’s eight years at Granville were marked by exciting activity and steady growth. Both he and Mrs. Mill endeared themselves to the church: perhaps a reflection of this might be found in the ‘Jubilee Souvenir‘ pamphlet where the comment about Rev. Mill’s ministry is, ” … we trust they (Rev. and Mrs. Mill) will long be spared to minister for the King of Kings in this part of His vineyard.” It was perhaps tragically prophetic: Rev. Mill died in hospital from Leukaemia on Saturday, 20th January, 1944, after six months of very poor health. He had been plagued with illness for some years and was forced to take a short leave in 1941 during which time Principal G. H. Morling conducted an interim ministry at the church. On Wednesday, 24th January, 1944, a Memoral Service was conducted by Rev. C. J. Tinsley in Central Baptist Church, at which Principal G. H. Morling delivered an appropriate message.

These years saw several men called into full time ministry, including Rev. C. Gray, Rev. W. Rein, Rev. F. Hoad and Rev. Syd Brook.

Despite the joy and celebration which accompanied Rev. Mill’s ministry at Granville, the war had taken its toll of membership. Some went away to fight, others withdrew as the church’s organisations began to suffer from decreasing staff levels. An initial rise in membership to one hundred and ninety-two by 1937, followed by a sharp drop to one hundred and sixty-one in 1938 represents an exodus of young men and women to the war effort. A subsequent rise to one hundred and seventy-eight by 1940, may indicate a period of consolidation as the church took stock of its leadership, and then the rapid drop to one hundred and twenty-four members by 1944, most probably reflects the inability of the denuded leadership to maintain the work. Whatever the reasons, the war years witnessed a sharp decline in membership.

Following Rev. Mill’s death, Rev. F. Robinson conducted a short interim ministry from November, 1943 until May, 1944. The church called Rev. S. J. Earl on 14th April, 1944. Rev. Earl was keen to support the Australian troops overseas in a practical way, so he organised an opportunity shop in the Granville shopping centre which was manned by volunteers from the church. Proceeds from this shop were used to buy food parcels for the troops.

It was during Rev. Earl’s ministry also that a concerted effort was made to fully payout the loan from the Australian Mutual Provident Society on the Jubilee Hall. In a special fund drive in November, 1944, 353.16.6 was raised; just 80.0.0 short of the amount owing.

Rev. Earl submitted his resignation from the pastorate on 14th November, 1950. During his seven years at Granville twenty persons were baptised.


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