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"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

   IHS-WA.net       Section 5 - A History of the Christian Brethren in Western Australia

 

* PLEASE 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 editor.  The blue type in this section is the contribution by Mr Ern West.

 

For the beginning of this West Australian Christian Brethren History - click HERE

 


 

SECTION 5 - HISTORY OF COUNTRY ASSEMBLIES - NOT NOW CURRENT 

 

1.       BOULDER  (post 1993, this Assembly is 'Not Now Current')

2.       BRIDGETOWN

3.       BUNBURY

4.       CARNARVON

5.       COLLIE

6.       COWARAMUP

7.       DALWALLINU

8.       DONNYBROOK

9.       ESPERANCE

10.     FOREST GROVE

11.     GERALDTON

12.     HAY RIVER

13.     HESTER SIDING

14.     JARRAHDALE

15.     KALGOORLIE

16.     KATANNING

17.     KENDENUP

18.     LAKE KING

19.     MANJIMUP

20.     MAYA  [BUNTINE]

21.     MEDINA

22.     NAREMBEEN

23.     PORT HEDLAND

24.     TOODYAY  (post 1993, this is a new Assembly)

25.     WILUNA 

 


 

1.  BOULDER  (at 1993)

 

Four couples 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.

 


 

2.  BRIDGETOWN

 

Although details are not available, the "Australian Missionary Tidings" showed a listing for Bridgetown in 1911.

 


 

3.  BUNBURY

 

About 1930 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.

 

Brethren 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.

 


 

4.  CARNARVON

 

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.

 


 

5.  COLLIE

 

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 the Assembly.

 

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.

 


 

6.  COWARAMUP

 

Although 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.

 


 

7.  DALWALLINU

 

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.

 


 

8.  DONNYBROOK

 

In December, 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.

 


 

9.  ESPERANCE

 

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 was sold.

 


 

10.  FOREST GROVE

 

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 discontinued.

 


 

 

FATHERHOOD  by the Skit Guys comedy team

 

 


 

11.  GERALDTON

 

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

 

In the "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

 

In January, 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.

 


 

14.  JARRAHDALE

 

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 Armadale.

 


 

15.  KALGOORLIE

 

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 High School. 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 the "Halfway".

 

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 close down.

 


 

16.  KATANNING

 

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.

 


 

17.  KENDENUP

 

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 Sunday 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)

 

As 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 living at Manjimup and 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.

 

In 2014, the Fellowship is now closed.

 


 

20.  MAYA  [BUNTINE]

 

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.

 


 

21.  MEDINA

 

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 the Assembly.

 


 

22.  NAREMBEEN

 

After living 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

 

During 1976 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.

 

 


 

24.  TOODYAY  (post 1993, this was a new Assembly and is now closed)

 

This 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.

 

Bob Adair 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 bread together.

 

In 2014, the Fellowship is now considered closed. (These comments are yet to be confirmed by the Adairs).

 


 

25.  WILUNA

 

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.

 


 

 

 

 

 

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