Bathurst Baptist Church celebrates 150 years

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Bathurst Church Family
Bathurst Church Family

From March 17-24 2013, the people of Bathurst Baptist Church celebrated their 150th Anniversary with a number of functions. These ranged from a community fun day to a sit down celebration dinner.
The celebrations began with an invitation to our local community to come and share some fun with us on Sunday March 17th. We modelled the afternoon on an old fashioned Sunday school picnic. There were games from the past ‘marbles’, ‘jacks and quoits’, ‘sack races’, ‘egg and spoon’ races and a ‘hoop roll’ race. To top it off we had Paddle Pops, and yes, we had cream buns! It was a fantastic fun time together.
To mark the actual day the church formed 150 years ago, March 21st, we had a small morning tea with a time to share memories and stories from the past. There was a time line of previous pastors, events and buildings around the church along with many photos from the past which generated a great deal of laughter at the old fashions and hair styles.
The celebration dinner was held on Saturday evening March 23rd with over 150 people from the past and present congregations joining together over a meal. Our local Mayor, Councillor Monica Morse, attended and thoroughly enjoyed the evening as did the Catholic Bishop of Bathurst Michael McKenna and our local C3 pastors Jeff and Rowena Lloyd.
We had several key people speak on various periods of time to illustrate the history of the church and the town. Many a laugh was shared over the stories from the recent past. Two of our young people then spoke of their hopes for the future at Bathurst Baptist. We were entertained with musical items by our youth worship band along with some of our worship team. A poem was written and recited for the occasion by Glad Whitley and our Deacon for Worship, Phil Snitch, sang a resounding rendition of “The Holy City” which moved many people. The evening concluded with the singing of the great old hymn “To God Be the Glory” which never sounded better!
Director of Ministries for Baptist Churches NSW & ACT, Rev. Ken Clendinning, was the guest speaker at our Sunday morning Celebration service on March 24th. He started his sermon with the following words as an encouragement for us to give thanks to the pioneers of our church all those years ago.

On an occasion such as this, it is important for us as a Baptist movement to give thanks to those pioneer preachers who, in 1862 saw the need to bring the Gospel to this town of 5000 people with its 50 pubs. They gathered around them a core group to establish a church within a year of meeting in the old courthouse. Bathurst was the gateway to the west and it was from these beginnings that the Gospel began spreading further afield in the surrounding area and then further westward.”

Our current congregation was inspired and blessed by hearing the tales from the past, seeing the photos and the journey that others took during the building of our current church (built 24 years ago). We can all look at the past and learn but we need to also keep our eyes on the future, as Frank Willis (current interim pastor) has been teaching us “Watch for the new thing God is going to do”
“We feel as if this weekend provided the church with a sense of unity, joy and hope at a much-needed time. I’ve learnt so much about our church, and the journey it has been on! It has been a blessing to catch a glimpse of the faith of our pioneers and the vision of those who worked so hard to establish our church in its current location. I am filled with excitement about what God is going to do over the next 150 years and I am thrilled to be a part of that in some small way.” Cath Snitch, Elder at Bathurst Baptist.
It has been a great blessing to be part of the wonderful team who organised these events and to be able to look at the past to see the many ups and downs we have had, however through all of this, God has always sustained us in our time of need. The history of our church shows that we are a church who has consistently spent time in prayer for our needs and we need to remember to keep this in the forefront of our current journey.
Following 17 months of Intentional Interim leadership by Rev. Frank Willis, Bathurst Baptist Church is actively seeking a new Pastor.

Contributed by Kathy Dwyer

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