"Let him who is taught the word share in all good
things with him who teaches. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked;
for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to
his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the
Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow
weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not
lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to
all, especially to those who are of the household of faith."
Galatians 6:6-10 NKJV
Section 5 - A History of the
Christian Brethren in
NOTE that EXTRA details have been and will be added to the internet
pages of this Western Australian Christian
Brethren History. These additions will be shown in GREEN TYPE, with author
noted unless added in by this websites
type in this section is the contribution by Mr Ern West.
began to meet in the latter months of 1987 in the home of Mr and Mrs
David Templeton. David, together with Robert and Doreen Smith of
Kurrawang were also conducting an after school Youth Club in the old
Palace Skating Rink under the name of the "Palace Guards". In May,
1988, the Assembly meetings were transferred to rented premises in
Moran Street, Boulder, known as "St Georges", a surplus Uniting
Church building. An outreach has also been established through the
display of Gospel texts on six bus shelters. Currently, in 1993,
there are about 10 in fellowship.
details are not available, the "Australian Missionary Tidings"
showed a listing for Bridgetown in 1911.
when the Bunbury High School was opened, Miss Chrissie Stephens,
sister of Mr Joe Stephens of Collie, was appointed as 1st Mistress.
At that time, Mr F.H.L. Sherlock was the Principal of the High
School and as the result of Miss Stephen's testimony he became
interested in the things of the Lord. During a visit of Mr Joe
Stephens of Collie, Mr Sherlock accepted the Lord, and shortly after
this, a small Assembly was established. However some time later, Mr
Sherlock was transferred to be Principal of the Eastern Goldfields
High School at Kalgoorlie making it impossible for the Assembly to
carry on. As a result of
this closure, Miss Stephens alternated between attending the
Assemblies at Busselton and Collie. After her retirement, the
boarding house which she had commenced some years before, was
organised to accommodate Christian girls and she regularly took a
carload of girls with her to Busselton and Collie until about 1946.
The position for the next few years is a little unclear, but we do
know that Assembly meetings were being held in the C.W.A. Hall in
1955. At that time, two separate Sunday Schools were operating but
these were combined in April 1955. Mid-week Prayer and Bible Study
meetings were held in private homes. Miss Stephens referred to
above, passed away on 25th August, 1955.
prominent at this time, together with their wives, were Mr and Mrs
Malcolm McKay, Mr and Mrs Gilbert Porter, Mr and Mrs Bob Rodgers,
and Mr and Mrs Roy Wilkinson. In August, 1957, a deposit was placed
on a block of land for a proposed Gospel Hall, but in 1964 through
various members moving away, the meetings were abandoned for some
months until July when several believers met in the home of Mr and
Mrs Len Brown. There was no Sunday School at this time. In August
1965 meetings were transferred to the Railway Institute Hall and a
Sunday School was again commenced, but in May 1966, a further move
was made to the Guides Hall in Mary Street. Further problems arose
through the drifting population but it was again possible to revive
the Assembly in December, 1968. In January, 1975, whilst meeting in
the C.W.A. Hall they were able to pay a deposit on a hall previously
owned by the Apostolic Church. After renovation and extensions, the
new Bunbury Gospel Hall was officially opened on 20th September,
1975. In 1977 various alterations and additions were made including
a new brick front.
At this time,
outreach was also carried on under the name of G.L.O. Sing-alongs in
the Bunbury Nursing Home, and these services were appreciated. South
West Conferences were also periodically held in the new hall.
Regular visits were also made to the Bunbury Regional Prison by
Malcolm McKay with much acceptance and many Emmaus Bible Study
courses were made available to the inmates. Conversions took place
and some were even baptised in the prison. As will be seen from the
foregoing history, Assembly work in Bunbury has had a somewhat
chequered career through lack of consistent membership and the
consequent closing again on several occasions. Finally in December,
1983, the doors of the Gospel Hall were closed and the building
eventually sold. A frequent changing Assembly population and the
fact that some newcomers preferred to associate themselves with
other church groups rather than the Assembly has militated against
the maintenance of a virile witness, hence the closure.
In 1950 Mr and
Mrs Geoff Hiam were living in Carnarvon. A Gospel meeting was
commenced and held in a public hall in the main street of the town.
These meetings were maintained until they left the town. A weekly
Bible Study was held in their home and Scripture lessons were given
in the schools by Mr Hiam.
By the 1920's,
Mr R.K. Scott, who arrived in Fremantle in 1896, had moved to Collie
and there established a pastry-cook business. As in other places,
his foremost object was to witness for the Lord and this brought him
in to contact with Mr Walter Leece, who at that time, was minister
of the Church of Christ in Collie. Discussions ensued on the
teaching of “Baptismal Regeneration” and “Eternal Security”. This
ultimately led the Leece family to leave the Church of Christ,
together with Mrs McNab, Mrs Phease, Mr Gamage, and Mr and Mrs
Slater and this permitted the establishment of an Assembly. All of
these people remained members of the Collie Assembly [except the
Leece family who moved to Busselton] until the Lord called them
home. Mr Leece had been unsuccessful in securing suitable employment
and so Mr Scott assisted to set him up as a pastry-cook in Busselton
in 1923, and this led to the establishment of an Assembly there.
Soon after this, Mr and Mrs Joe Allen and their daughter Edie [later
to become Mrs Bert Seaby] also left the Church of Christ and joined
In 1928 Mr
Joseph Stephens was transferred to the school at Collie and he and
his wife added to the numbers and continued to do so, as in the next
16 years they had seven children, several of whom had the privilege
of being baptised by the then elderly Mr Scott. Further additions
came in 1934 when Mr Scott's stepson Mr Knox, his wife and family
[the youngest daughter was Grace, the late Mrs Ern Spencer] left the
Methodist Church, where they had worshipped since 1926 when they
arrived in Collie, and joined the Assembly. Having taught Mr Knox
the art of the pastry-cook, Mr Scott was free to travel through the
South West, preaching and teaching and encouraging Christians at
Busselton, Cowaramup, Forest Grove and surrounding areas. Some of
the folk regularly visited were the Sinclairs, Rowcliffes, Staers,
Bells, Spencers and Strongs. Various people have gone to work and
live in Collie over the years and attended the Assembly, including
Mr and Mrs Don Gaff and Mr and Mrs Charles Lanham. The Assembly
continued its chequered career with people coming and going until Mr
Stephens passed away in 1979.
frequently visiting Forest Grove Assembly, whenever opportunity
occurred, Mr and Mrs Sinclair often held a Breaking of Bread meeting
in their home. Brethren from Busselton would visit, and for this
reason, the meetings were held in the afternoon. The writer of these
notes and his wife recall travelling in the 1930's with Mr Leece to
share on one of these occasions.
Dating as far
back as the 1930's there has been a witness in the
Buntine-Dalwallinu areas with Christians meeting for the Breaking of
Bread in farmers' private homes. There were several baptisms in May
1971 for which purpose the Church of Christ baptistery was made
available. Following this, meetings were held in the C.W.A. Hall for
some years. At one stage,
many of the Christians in the area from various denominations agreed
to meet together on neutral ground under the name of the Dalwallinu
Christian Fellowship, but this soon fell through due to
denominational pressure from Perth.
1949, Mr and Mrs Harold Strong moved to Donnybrook and decided to
establish a witness in that area. Others joined them including a Mrs
Harvey who, together with her children, had been corresponding with
the children's magazine "The Searcher". Breaking of Bread and Gospel
meetings were held until the Strongs left Donnybrook.
In 1967, Mr
and Mrs Sharpe moved from Kurrawang because of asthma problems
being experienced by Mrs Sharpe, to a residence adjoining the
Kurrawang holiday home. Worship meetings were held whenever there
were other brethren and sisters from the Assemblies present.
Unfortunately many such visitors went to other churches if they went
anywhere at all. This meeting was discontinued after the property
In 1930, Mr
and Mrs Alf Staer, who had just been married in South Australia,
came to Western Australia by ship and at first went to Narrogin for
12 months. From there, in 1931, they moved to Forest Grove to take
over a Group Settlement block at the age of 22 years. A lot of hard
work was involved in establishing themselves on this block, but not
so much as to prevent them seeking to serve the Lord. Prior to this,
the Staers were members of the Church of Christ, but as there were
no churches in the area, two Sunday Schools were commenced, one in
Brook's house on Sunday morning, and the other on Group 74 in the
afternoon, some 10 miles away, and travelling by horse and cart.
Evening cottage meetings were started and held in various homes and
it was at these meetings that Keith Duncan and Mary Vigar came to
know the Lord. As activities in Forest Grove became more widely
known, brethren from other places came to help and encourage,
including Mr Leece and the Grosser brothers [Ken and Ern] of
Busselton, Mr Charles Wilson and the Phoenix brothers [Eric and
Albert] of Perth, and Mr R.K. Scott and Mr J. Allan of Collie.
Some of these,
together with Mr Rowcliffe [Senior] went through the district
preaching the Gospel. As a result of these activities, many were
converted and were baptised in the sea or local creeks, and
eventually a Breaking of Bread meeting was commenced in 1934. Some
30 new Christians were regularly attending the services. Amongst
these were the Staer, Rowcliffe, Green, Palmer, Brand, Illingworth
and Duncan families, as well as many others. During 1934, the Staers
decided to return to South Australia where they remained for 2 years
working on an uncle's farm, coming back to Western Australia in 1936
to settle at Jarrahdale. Others also left the district after a few
months, but the remaining believers continued to operate. Up to this
time, all travel was by horse and cart which meant a round trip of
10-12 miles. There was no telephone, and so it was a common
happening to travel 4 miles or more and then find that no-one was
coming from that place. Mr John Sinclair of Cowaramup would drive
his horse and sulky once each fortnight - a distance of 22 miles. He
was never late for the Breaking of Bread meeting and would milk 12
cows by hand, feed the calves and pigs before leaving home for
Forest Grove. He was a very loving and caring brother.
In 1935 the
Rowcliffes purchased a second-hand motor vehicle and this made
travel to the meetings much easier. About 1937 or 1938, the Shield
family procured a farm in the district and were a welcome addition
to the Assembly. They had come from Jarrahdale where they had
fellowshipped with the Jubb and Staer families and other Christians.
They were a real blessing at Forest Grove, being very zealous in
Christian work and very missionary minded, 3 of the sons eventually
volunteering for missionary service. However, they eventually moved
to Victoria in 1949-1950. Over the following years, various families
came to live in the area and so it was possible to maintain a
Christian witness including the commencement of a Sunday School at
nearby Witchcliffe. Amongst those who came to the area but left
after a few years were Mr and Mrs Malcolm McKay, Mr and Mrs Mason,
the Strong family, the Birch and Rogers families. Despite the many
comings and goings, it was possible to maintain an Assembly witness
until 1992 when only 3 people were left and the meetings were
by the Skit Guys comedy team
At some time
prior to 1965 Mr and Mrs Ted Wilkinson endeavoured to maintain an
Assembly meeting mainly on their own, apart from occasional
visitors. In 1964, Mr and Mrs Alec Black were transferred to
Geraldton for work purposes and were able to meet with the
Wilkinson's until both families left the area.
12. HAY RIVER
"Australian Missionary Tidings" published in the year 1911 an
Assembly was listed as operating in Western Australia at Hay River.
We have not been able to locate any information of any such place in
Western Australia, but reference to an Atlas shows a Hay River as
being in the Northern Territory some 370 kms east of Alice Springs.
13. HESTER SIDING
1948, a Sunday School was commenced in the home of Mr and Mrs George
Mason. Six children and 3 mothers attended. This Sunday School was
held on a fortnightly basis. Numbers increased to 12 children and 8
adults. When opportunity made it practicable, Breaking of Bread
meetings were held in the home and in May 1950 one lady, previously
a "Jehovah Witness" was converted and baptised at Busselton. Early
in 1950 permission was also given to Mr Mason to give religious
instruction in the State School. A certain amount of opposition
caused the Sunday School to fluctuate in attendance. At the
prize-giving in March 1951, 23 children were in attendance and Mr
George Horlock who lived in Bridgetown, presented the prizes.
However, in April 1952, the Sunday School had to be discontinued due
to the lack of a reliable vehicle.
In the early
1930's, Mr and Mrs Tom Jubb from Tasmania set up a farm home at
Jarrahdale and became the local milk suppliers. In 1936, Mr and Mrs
Alf Staer, who had helped to set up an Assembly in Forest Grove some
years previously before returning to South Australia in 1934, were
again drawn back to Western Australia and on this occasion decided
to settle in Jarrahdale where they established a farm and became
well-known for their beautiful gladioli. They became aware of the
Jubbs and commenced meeting together. As time went on, others met
with them and an Assembly was established. Brethren from Perth and
other places frequently visited to help and the Shields family and
Miss Amy Goodchild [now Mrs Edwin King] joined the fellowship. It is
interesting to note that after moving to Victoria some years later,
three of the Shields sons served the Lord on the mission field.
Mr J.C. Gomm,
who frequently travelled throughout country areas, was a regular
visitor and in 1944 he rented a house in nearby Mundijong to which
he invited service-men on leave, and later children, to whom he
preached the Gospel. The folk from Jarrahdale helped in this effort
and some 16-26 children regularly attended. A Sunday School had been
commenced at Jarrahdale and very large crowds gathered on the
occasions of the Sunday School Anniversaries. Sunday morning
meetings were initially held in various homes, but eventually it was
practicable to hold them in the local Hall. As the years
went by, others joined in the fellowship including Mr and Mrs Merton
Phillips, Mr Ray Little and Mr Edwin King. In June, 1954, the Staers
decided to sell up and return again to their home State of South
Australia. The Assembly continued its activities until 1958 when
the Jubbs also left the area and the Assembly then transferred to
Although it is
understood that a small number of Christians associated with the
Assemblies lived and worked in and around Kalgoorlie in the early
part of this century, it would seem that there is no record of any
attempt to establish an Assembly until the arrival of Mr F.H.L.
Sherlock on his appointment as Principal of the Eastern Goldfields
Together with Mr George Walker, Manager of one of the gold mines, a
testimony was established in the town possibly in the mid 1940's.
Open-air meetings were commenced in April 1947 and some 10 months
later in February 1948, Mr and Mrs Will Sharpe of N.S.W. arrived in
Kalgoorlie with their caravan and very soon Gospel messages were
being proclaimed from amplifiers attached to the caravan. House to
house visits were undertaken and a Sunday evening Gospel service was
commenced in the Town Hall. In March 1948, Mr Alex Morrison of the
Norwood Assembly also joined them for a while. Early in 1948 a
Sunday School was commenced and in October 1948, 75 children
attended what was to become the Annual Sunday School Picnic. A short
time later a second Sunday School was commenced at a place called
In July 1949,
meetings were commenced in a rented hall in Hannan Street
[previously used as a Police Boys Club on the site now occupied by
Woolworths] which also provided accommodation for Mr and Mrs Sharpe.
This continued until February 1952, when Mr Sharpe was appointed as
an Honorary Protector of the Aborigines, and a Native Reserve was
established at Kurrawang some 18 kilometres west of Kalgoorlie. As a
result of this and the need for Mr and Mrs Sharpe to move out to
Kurrawang, it was arranged for Mr and Mrs Doug Brewer recently
arrived from Adelaide to take over the evangelistic work in
Kalgoorlie. In April 1952, Mr and Mrs Stan Coffey were commended
from the Perth Assembly to full-time work in Kalgoorlie, having been
working there for some time previously. By September 1952, between
30-40 people were regularly attending the Gospel meetings and the
Sunday School had increased to well over 100. The Assembly in
Kalgoorlie continued for some years but through various
circumstances, numbers dwindled and it was eventually necessary to
The name of
Katanning appeared in the Assembly listing in the "Australian
Missionary Tidings" of 1911. We know that the Baldwin family had
arrived from England in that year and after a short time at
Claremont moved down to Katanning where they remained until 1923. We
also know that Mr P.C. Filmer who lived in Katanning was married at
the age of 42 in 1928, but we are not aware whether he was involved
in an Assembly there back in 1911, but assume that he was.
Mr and Mrs
Amos G. Moore of the Perth Assembly were married in Perth in
December 1927. Shortly after this they purchased farm land at
Kendenup and set up a home there. Another 15 years passed before
they were again in Perth and in the interim, several children were
born and many friends made in the district. An Assembly meeting was
established in their home and it is on record in December 1953, when
a party of 11 went from Albany to meet with them, between 30 and 40
people met to remember the Lord. In January 1957, plans were
prepared for the building of a Gospel Hall in the main street of
Kendenup as meetings at this time were being held in the local Hall.
Land was purchased and cleared by September 1957. In September 1958
the new building was officially opened and celebrated with the
School Anniversary. An important part of this work was the
collection of children from the surrounding farms, involving over
an hour's driving before and after Sunday School. Gospel meetings
were also held and some blessing resulted. In March 1962, a
Quarterly Conference was commenced alternating with Albany. August
1962 saw the commencement of another Sunday School at West Kendenup.
The Assembly continued to operate for a good number of years until
various members of the Moore family moved away, eventually making it
impossible to continue.
18. LAKE KING
In the 1930's
Mr Nelson Hetherington and family left Perth to take up farming Lake
King and regularly maintained a Breaking of Bread meeting with the
family and any visitors. In September 1947, a rally was organised at
Lake King when some 60-70 people from surrounding districts gathered
to listen to an address by our brother, who was a very able speaker.
Prior to lunch, a Sunday School was held and afterwards a time of
singing and questions before the main address. A similar attempt in
March 1948 was disappointing when only 20 attended.
19. MANJIMUP(at 1993)
a matter of interest, we would mentioned that as far back as 1911
there was a listing in the Australian Missionary Tidings of an
Assembly operating at Manjimup. Nothing more is known. It was not
until years later a close relationship developed between Christians
Bridgetown and they came together for fellowship.
Initially meetings were held at Bridgetown but during summer months
they were often held at Yanmah [near Manjimup] as Mr Ted McCann, a
Forestry officer, could not move away from the vicinity of the Bush
Fire Look Out Tower. In June 1960 the meeting was transferred to
Manjimup regularly. About this time, John and Jeanne Wearne came to
reside in Manjimup and an exercise arose to commence a Sunday
School. In February, 1963 a Children's Mission was conducted in the
R.S.L. Hall with between 80 to 120 children attending. Arising from
this, a Sunday School was commenced with an initial attendance of
30. In common with many other country towns, "arrivals" and
"departures" of Assembly members has prevented the building up of a
continued strong witness. However, the testimony continues with the
Horlock families carrying on under difficulties.
the Fellowship is now closed.
In 1962 and
1963 Mrs Irene West and daughter, Marie (now Brown) conducted a
Sunday School in the local hall at Maya. When others visited the
Albert West farm [previously the John Budge farm] opportunity was
always taken to hold a Breaking of Bread meeting.
In July 1954 a
work was commenced in Medina with a Morning Meeting at 10.30 a.m.
and a Sunday School at 2 p.m.. There were 48 children on the Sunday
School roll increasing to 70 by 1956. Gospel meetings were also
commenced and in 1956 the membership of the Assembly totalled 12.
Various speakers assisted over the years and the families involved
in the fellowship were the Corkers, Donalds and the Pitmans, with a
new family, the Fish's, being added soon after. Various meeting
places had to be used private homes, a marquee, a school room and
eventually the new public hall. The work continued for some years
but as unemployment increased in the area due to completion of the
major construction works at Kwinana, it became necessary for one and
the other to leave the area bringing about the ultimate demise of
at Forest Grove, Busselton, Perth and Donnybrook, Mr and Mrs Harold
Strong moved to Narembeen and whilst living and farming there held a
Breaking of Bread meeting in his home for some years. Others were
also associated with this meeting.
23. PORT HEDLAND
quite a number of believers from the Metropolitan Assemblies were
living and working in Port Hedland and so met together in Assembly
Fellowship. Some of those involved were Peter Taylor, Ross Gaff,
Peter White and Bill Grosser.
(post 1993, this
was a new Assembly and is now closed)
small church was established with Bob and Val Adair around 2000,
when they joined with a few other couples/families to meet in the
Toodyay Community Centre for Sunday worship and breaking-of-bread.
They conducted various successful outreach programs through the
local festivals and ANZAC day marches, and handed out many hundreds
of locally produced quality tracts. Bob and 4 other Christians
established a Men's Shed in Toodyay, with the help of the Toodyay
Shire Council, but due to the restrictions of the parent Men's Shed
organisation and other local secular involvement, these men withdrew
from the project and now have no more leadership influence.
continues to write a Christian-based article each month for the
local Toodyay news paper. Due to falling numbers in the attendance
in their fellowship (due to people moving out of the town), the
Sunday Worship Meeting was cancelled since the end of December
2012, but they continue to meet for bible study and occasional breaking
the Fellowship is now considered closed. (These comments are yet to be
confirmed by the Adairs).
In the 1930's
a small group working in the gold mines were able to meet together
on a regular basis for Assembly meetings. Some of those involved
were Mr Meggs of Morwell, Victoria; Mr George Walker of Sydney,
N.S.W. [later moving to Kalgoorlie]; and Mr and Mrs Alex Morrison
who were there for some years. Others from Perth also met with them
for short periods, including Mr Stan Britton and Mr Pat Sullivan. As
opportunities for mine work decreased, all of these brethren
gradually moved away and meetings ceased.