Church service hits 150 years

LONG HAUL: Ruth Hein stands on the steps of the Baptist Church on North Terrace, which opened in April 1984. Picture: CAITLIN KENNEDYTHE Mount Gambier Baptist Church will celebrate 150 years in November since it first opened its doors.

But over the years, services were held in various places around the city before settling down.

The church was established after a small group of Christians met in the home of James and Christina Smith on the western side of Mount Gambier known as Rosaville.

Christina is depicted in the hologram at the Lady Nelson Visitor and Discovery Centre.

But it was not long before their home, named Bon Accord, became too small for the growing group and they applied for a room at the National School on Sturt Street – a building that still stands today.

On January 29, 1864 the first Baptist Chapel was built at 8 Bertha Street, but before long proved to be too small again and a move was made to open a new chapel on Helen Street in 1868.

The building was later sold when another larger chapel was built on Helen Street and opened in 1894.

The Helen Street chapel thrived before there was an opening for Baptist work in the north area of Mount Gambier and a new chapel was constituted in 1966 on the corner of Wehl Street North and McArthur Street.

This was in conjunction with the Helen Street Chapel and Reverend Arthur Payne came from Perth to minister it.

He decided to build a new church as there was a desire to hold community ministries and the current church was outdated.

The church was built by volunteers at 33 North Terrace and was opened in April, 1984.

It was built so that programs could be run for the public, worships and Sunday school.

Many initiatives have been pursued over the years by the Baptist Church, including a white goods program, provision for school lunches for hungry children, a living skills program and an ongoing Solid Rock Caf at the Mount Gambier show.

But, after the many location changes, the church has remained on North Terrace since 1984.

In 1989, the church celebrated 125 years of ministry and several past ministers attended the event.

Now plans are in place for a 150-year celebration on the weekend of November 1 and 2.

The celebration is sponsored by the Mount Gambier City Council and will be held in the City Hall from 2pm to 4.30pm on Saturday, November 1.

Photographic displays, a cake cutting ceremony and a visit from Mike Mills, the executive minister for Baptist Churches of South Australia will be a part of the afternoon.

In the week following the celebration, a photographic display will be on show at the Main Corner.