The 50th Anniversary of a Church of Jesus Christ affords an excellent vantage point from which to survey the past and anticipate the future. It is a period which lies well within the memory of those who were fairly young when it began, and who have shared in its progress. It inspires mingled penitence and gratitude as its failures and successes are recalled, and wisely reviewed, it may inspire to nobler service than any past days have seen.
The history of the church gives proof of the continued activity of the Risen Lord through the power of the Spirit. It records faithful service on the part of many of His devoted servants. It tells of ministries by which the truth of God has been defended and diffused. It honours the memory of pioneers who served their generation by the will of God, and then fell asleep. And it calls upon a younger generation to seize the torch which aged and feeble hands pass on to them, and to carry it on undimmed through the years!
FORMATION OF THE CHURCH.
On Thursday, 11th October, 1888, a public meeting and devotional service was held in Blaxcell Street church building, at which the Revs. J. Straughen, J D. Brown, J. A. Soper, and a number of Parramatta Church members were present. The Rev. J. A. Soper, President of the Baptist Union of New South Wales, presided, and at the close of the devotional meeting, the Granville friends were formed into a Church with fifteen members.
Mesdames Barnicoat, J. W. Marcroft, F. Marcroft, Osborn and Hillier.
Misses M. Rice, S. Barnicoat, A. Whiteford, M. Osborn and E. Osborn.
Messrs. Barnicoat, J. W. Marcroft, F. Marcroft, T. Osborn and J. Clague.
Rev. J. Straughen, minister of Parramatta Church, consented to act as Pastor, and had the oversight of the church from 1888 to 1897.
Mr. W. Marcroft was elected Secretary, Mr. Clague was elected Treasurer, and Miss Whiteford as Organist.
Our survey of the past fifty years gives proof that God has richly blessed the fellowship and ministry of the church. By the grace of God, much has been accomplished and the chief note in our song of Jubilee must be a note of praise.
Good work has been done by many faithful workers. Christ has been exalted and His Kingdom extended. Believers have been edified and sinners converted. The young have been taught, and as they have grown up many have dedicated their lives to Jesus Christ for service either at home or abroad.
What the future holds we cannot tell, but we know that “He hath been mindful of us; He will bless us.”
During the fifty years 520 members have enrolled. Many of the former members have fallen asleep in Jesus. Many have removed to other parts of this and other States, and are using their gifts in other fields of service.
Prior to the formation of the Church, Sunday School was held in an upper room above a shop in South Street. This work amongst the young was started by the late Mr. W. Ardill, and, under his guidance, was the means of attracting many boys and girls.
We have with us Mr. Marcroft, foundation member and Secretary for many years.
The present church building was erected in 1911, during the ministry of Rev. C. T. Way.
The Official Opening and Dedication took place on Saturday, 28th October, 1911—twenty-three years after the founding of the church in 1888.
The door opening ceremony was performed by Mr. W. Buckingham, and the dedicatory address was given by Rev. B. Gawthrop.
The following day, Sunday, 29th October, special services were held, at which the pastor, Rev. C. T. Way, Rev. C. J. Tinsley, Rev. F. Robinson, Rev. C. Marcroft, Rev. J. Leech and Rev. J. Barker took part.
During the period of demolition of the Blaxcell Street Church in 1911 and the re-erecting of the building in William Street as a Sunday School, services were held in Columbia Hall (now demolished) in Good Street, opposite Mr. Patten’s store.
The present Church building was renovated and the wooden fence replaced by a brick wall during the ministry of Rev. C. G. Orford; also negotiations were entered into for the purchase of Jubilee Hall.
The Jubilee Hall was officially opened and dedicated during the early days of Rev. J. Douglas Mill’s pastorate, in 1937.
The Honour Roll in the church reminds us of the members and adherents who served their King and Country in the Great War, some paying the supreme price with their lives.
Of late years, the work has been greatly helped on with the assistance of a band of devoted Christian young men and women. Many are Sunday School teachers and helpers in the Christian Endeavour Societies.
The Ladies’ Guild are active in their sewing meetings, and each year many garments are made and distributed to needy families in the district.
The young ladies of the church are organised in the Senior Girls’ Missionary Union, and keep the interest in Mission work well before the congregation and raise funds for Mission work.
The Men’s Morning Meeting is a live body, and helpful meetings are held each Sunday morning, and men from other churches are attracted to these meetings. Interchange of visits to other Men’s Societies strengthen interest in the work.
The C.E. work is divided into four Societies—Junior “A,” Junior “B,” Intermediate, and Young People’s Societies, the whole under the General Superintendent, Mr. K. Flatters. Each group has its own Superintendent, Secretary and Treasurer, and the keenest interest is manifest in the work “For Christ and the Church” by all the young peop1e.
Young men of the church conduct Open Air Sunday School in the back streets, where they gather around them boys and girls and tell them Bible stories. We believe their efforts will be blessed.
Since our present Pastor’s advent, the choir seating has been rearranged on platforms each side of the pulpit. The choir renders valuable help with their leading of the praise in the services each Sunday, and on special occasions are always ready to help with their musical talents.
Time would fail to tell of all who have in many ways aided the work which, by the Grace of God, the Church has done during the fifty years of her history.
Many deacons have devoted their time, their means, their business acumen, their best thought to the highest interests of the church and have assisted the successive ministers to the limit of their ability. Others have used their gifts in ways that often go unrecorded and unpraised. They have decorated the platform with flowers, acted as agents and recorders for the “Australian Baptist,” audited church accounts and rendered many other willing services.
“With grateful hearts the past we own,
The future, all to us unknown
We to Thy guardian care commit,
And peaceful leave before Thy feet.“