The journey of the Bundaberg Church of Christ is a testament to the local faith community as the congregation celebrates its 100-year anniversary this month.
Elder and centenary celebration coordinator Warren Murray said Bundaberg Church of Christ had become a cornerstone of the local community, shaping lives and providing guidance to families for a century.
“The longest family association still involved in the life of the Church today is that of Allan Wissmann whose forebears were one of the original families who were part of the group who met at the end of the 19th century,” Warren said.
“It is memorable that at least one family can trace their association through the past 130 plus years.
“There are a few of the current members who have decades of attachment to the church, but many who attend today are more recent additions.”
Warren said the church held a long history in the Bundaberg Region, which surpassed 100 years, but it officially became part of the Queensland organisation, Church of Christ, in November 1923.
He said the genesis began in the early 1880s when missionary John Thompson from Childers visited Bundaberg and started a Church of Christ cause in Calavos.
“The group grew to around 30 members and the meetings, led by Mr J. A. Asmus, were held in Redmond’s Hall, Woongarra Street,” he said.
“As time passed, some members moved to the Gospel Hall congregation and others dropped away.
“On returning to Bundaberg in the early 1900’s John Thompson encouraged Mr Asmus to begin meetings again.
“The membership grew quickly after a six-week mission conducted in 1923.
“This group applied to join Churches of Christ in Queensland, and this happened in November 1923 – the date we celebrate at the beginning of the Church ministry in Bundaberg.”
He said the history included the first permanent building which was located in Normanby Square, before a rapid increase in membership allowed for a new chapel to be built in Barolin Street, opposite the Holy Rosary Church.
“The small hall from Normanby Square was relocated at the rear and served for Sunday School and other activities,” Warren said.
“The Barolin Street property was sold in 1987 and became Chippindalls Pharmacy and later the Church Pharmacy.
“This building was destroyed by fire about five years ago.
“A large plot of ground was purchased by the Church on the corner of Twyford Street and Dittmans Road and a new modern Chapel was opened in November 1988 with a large youth hall added on the block in 2000.”
Warren said although membership had fluctuated over the years the church held a strong position in the community.
“We can be encouraged that from the early beginning of two families, today we have over 200 people as part of the church community and an additional 100 who have contact with the church through its various weekly activities,” he said.
Bundaberg Church of Christ will celebrate its 100-year milestone with a century dinner on Saturday 25 November and a celebration service on Sunday 26 November at 9.30 am.
Bundaberg Church of Christ history highlights
• 1923 – the group applied to join Churches of Christ in Queensland. The first permanent building was in Normanby Square.
• 1926 – a concrete block church was erected on Barolin Street with the wooden hall from Normanby Square attached to the rear for Sunday school use.
• 1927 – Manse purchased in Barolin Street – later removed and a new home built.
• 1947 – Land purchased on Sims Road, an Air Force hut erected for use as a chapel
• 1950s – Youth Centre at Elliot Heads established
• 1963 – Elliott Heads Centre sold and proceeds used to extend Sims Road and purchase a 3000sq m block opposite for expansion. This is where the current church now stands (opened in 1982)
• 1970 – Avenell Heights (Sims Road) officially affiliated with Queensland Conference
• 1973 – Land purchased in Payne Street for a group family home.
• 1980 – John Thompson House officially opened. Now the base for CYF activities
• 1987 – Barolin Street property sold, and land purchased in Twyford Street where a new chapel was officially opened on 26 November 1988
• 2000 – A large youth hall, built with many hours of voluntary labour, was opened.
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