Baptist work in
Mayfield from 1860s
It appears from the records of the Tabernacle Baptist Church that there was a small work established in the Mayfield area during the 1860's. Rev Philip Lane conducted services each Sunday afternoon at Waratah, and on 6th September 1865 Messrs. J Scobie and J Plumridge were elected deacons for the Waratah Mission. However, this early cause did not continue. Prior to the First World War the Home Mission Committee prompted by the Islington Church, purchased a block of land in this area, but it was ultimately sold when war prevented development.
Mayfield Baptist Sunday School starts in 1920
In 1919 Rev TR Coleman, pastor of the Islington Church, commenced Sunday afternoon services in the Masonic Hall in Hanbury Street. A Sunday School was commenced in 1920, and evening services were conducted by lay preachers from the Islington Church, however after a time they were left in the hands of Mr R Curry and Mr WL Young. In 1921 the work was transferred to a public hall in Maitland Road.
Valencia Street Church
opened in 1925
In June 1925 the work was constituted as a separate church by Rev B Gawthrop, representing the Baptist Union of NSW, and thirty foundation members were received into fellowship. The first deacons were Messers R Curry, WH Davies, W Stevens, LV Watts, and WL Young. In 1925 land was purchased in Valencia Street and a church building erected entirely by voluntary labour, was opened by Rev FJ Dunkley in June 1926. The work instantly grew and the Sunday School was noticeably strong.
Evening Service bigger
than Morning Service
The first pastor, Rev JC Rixon, commenced a ministry in October 1927 and continued until the end of 1928, when honorary pastors took up the work again. During the next 30 years the congregation averaged 40-50 in the morning and 80-100 for the evening services. The Sunday School and Christian Endeavour Society were very active.
War interrupts plans for Maitland Road Church
Rev FA Hoad, B.A., was called in 1933, and from this point on the church has, except for short periods, been able to maintain a continous pastorate. Rev ET Kemsley served the church from 1934 to 1936. He was followed by Pastor J Green whose ministry extended to 1940, and it was during this period that the first serious discussions took place on the advisability of transferring to Maitland Road. Unfortunately the War had entered a more serious stage and the church abandoned its rebuilding plans.
Plans for Mayfield
The leadership of the church was assumed in 1940 by Rev EL Phillips, who occupied the pastorate until September 1942. Rev AG Williams was pastor from 1942 to 1946. Rev RK Redman was called to the church in 1946, having concluded service in the A.I.F. as chaplain, and, after being granted leave by the church, he re-entered the army where he served a further chaplaincy until June 1949. Redman's ministry at Mayfield concluded on 11th August 1950. In 1949, the Church began thinking about a transition to Maitland Road. What is now the old Woolworth's building, was available and so a plan was proposed for a Mayfield Central Mission. The cost of $3500 (equivalent) meant the church would have to go into debt which worried some of the older members who had lost their homes during the Depression.
200 New Children
in Sunday School
Rev RF Pope served the church from 4th March 1951 to 4th May 1956. In 1952/53 200 new children joined the Sunday School. So it was that in 1954 the church purchased the block of land in Maitland Road near Church Street and built a utility hall which was used for the Church. In 1956, the Church also bought the adjoining block of land.
BHP funds the purchase of Scholey Estate
By 1957, the Scholey Estate was now a rundown mansion and four acres of vacant land that had been purchased a few years before by Manufacturer's Mutual Insurance Company. They offered the entire property to the Church's hostel committee for $22500. BHP donated $14,000 over a seven year period, to facilitate the restoration of Mayfield House and the establishment of an apprentice hostel, with the proviso that half the beds be offered to BHP employees. The Church narrowly resolved to buy Mayfield House, provided that the Church would never be asked to financially support the Hostel.
Lewis House and
Rev Eric Walsham
Pastor WR Robinson ministered from 1956 to 1958. His ministry was followed by an interim pastorship conducted by Rev SA McDonald, O.B.E. from 1958 to 1959. From 1958, with 38 residents and a new name, "Lewis House" was up and running. In 1960, the church virtually gave 2 acres of the land to the Baptist Homes Trust, so that "Kara" could come into being. Rev EA Walsham came to Mayfield in 1959 and maintained a much blessed ministry up until 1979.
Hanbury Street Church opened
In November 1970 a new church was erected on the Hanbury Street frontage of the old Scholey Estate, (land donated to the church by the Lewis House Committee), and for a period of time the work was divided between there and Maitland Road. The Maitland Road property was then sold to enable a commencement to be made on a new Christian Education Centre adjacent to the new church. A cottage was made available in Highfield Street to enable work of the auxiliaries to continue.
In 1972, the Sunday School decided to care for underprivileged children. Two houses were purchased in Crebert and Margaret Streets, Mayfield from BHP at less than half the valuation cost. Thus Mayfield Children's Homes was started. 1974 saw the purchase of the site of the closed Allynbrook Public School and adjoining closed Post Office. This was used as a site for youth camps and retreats until 1991, when the property was transferred to Hunter Mission's property portfolio.
The Christian Education Centre was dedicated on the 27th September 1976. The Commonwealth Government contributed $100,000 towards this project, helping to commence the Mayfield Community Pre-School. An anonymous donor also gave $50,000. The Hostel Committee then gave more land to the Church in 1979 to allow the erection of a church manse. In 1981 the church advanced $250,000 for the purchase of land and construction of the Mayfield Christian Community School (now called Hunter Christian School) on the corner of Bull and Kerr Sts.
In 2000, MBC opened a Community Centre in Maitland Road, with the vision to develop a centre for the people of Mayfield that encourages them to become devoted followers of Jesus. It is now run in partnership with Baptist Care and provides wholesome meals, no interest loans, chaplaincy. The Centre provides a place where some of the most lonely and vulnerable people in our community are supported to address key issues, such as personal health, drug and alcohol dependence, mental health and housing needs. Responding with compassion, practical care and support, the service assists clients in developing skills to build independence and resilience.