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"...be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."  

2 Peter 3:14-18  NKJV

   IHS-WA.net       Section 7 - 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
























20.     "THE SEARCHER"






In 1972 an exercise arose to consider the purchase of land and construction of units for elderly members of the Assemblies. We had been advised by Eastern States brethren who had been involved in similar projects to not consider anything less than a 5 acre area of land to allow for further development. Meetings were called, but there was only a slow response to the proposition. A fund was opened to receive donations or free-of interest loans but it would seem that our access to adequate funds was very limited in 21/2 years we had only collected $2,500. It was decided to keep the fund open for the time being, but by 1980 the position was seen to be hopeless and the monies then available, approximately $3,500 [including interest] were distributed or refunded, according to the wishes of the donors. The idea was again revived in 1986 and further investigations were made as to the viability of the project, and a tremendous amount of work was put in by Mrs Joan Grosser, Mr Wally Harding and others. A meeting was convened for 24th May, 1987 at North Perth Chapel and about 100 interested people attended. By this time, costs had escalated considerably and a goal of $250,000 was set. By July 1987, $60,000 had been promised or given increasing to $100,000 by October, 1987. Many enquiries were being made as to the availability of suitable land and other requirements but in view of the tremendous short fall in meeting the goal, it was again decided to abandon the project.





An attempt to introduce an aggressive evangelistic work in country areas began with the introduction of a “Bible Van” early in 1946 when an ex-army Signal Van was purchased and fitted out for the purpose. It proved difficult at that time to find men who could devote themselves long-term to such itinerant work. The first worker was Mr W.S. Leece and he was assisted by various brethren short-term, the first of which was Mr Sidney Adams, a missionary from Malaysia, and Mr J.C. Gomm also assisted on occasions. In August, 1946 at a general meeting of brethren, it was agreed that the Signal Van was not the most suitable vehicle for this work and it was decided to construct a Caravan which would be towed by a suitable Utility. This was completed and on the road in September, 1947 in the hands of Mr Leece. Helpers in the following months were Mr John Moffatt, Mr Alec Friend, and Mr George Mason. During the winter months, because of the cold, the van was parked at Busselton with visitation work being carried out in that area. With improved weather in the spring, itinerant visits were re-commenced, Mr Leece being assisted by various brethren including Mr J.C. Gomm, Mr Stan Coffey, Mr Charles Lanham, Mr Fred Chester-Nash and possibly others. This work continued until 1950 when, because of difficulty in handling the caravan on dirt roads and the lack of continuity of workers on a permanent basis, it was decided in November of that year to sell the two units and to hold the proceeds in trust for the ultimate purchase of a suitable single vehicle when other workers became available.


In October, 1954, Mr John McKenzie, who had spent many years as an itinerant evangelist in the south of England, but who had migrated to Western Australia to be near family, became available. Mr and Mrs McKenzie were living at Lower King River, Albany and much effort had been put into that area in evangelistic outreach. Authority was given to purchase a suitable vehicle as soon as enough money was available. In August, 1955, a large new Austin Utility was purchased at a very reduced price, the wheel base was lengthened to 10 feet and a suitable van body was constructed by professional body builders. The vehicle was delivered in October, 1955 and after fitting out by the Forest Grove brethren, it was put into commission in January, 1956 with Mr John McKenzie in charge. During 1957, Mr Ted Jennings, Mr Dick Harding, and Mr John Wearne also assisted. In September, 1959, Mr McKenzie had to withdraw from the work because of advancing years and consequent ill-health. Mr John Wearne continued for a time but because of his approaching marriage, retired from the work in December, 1959.


However, in May, 1960, due to an improvement in health, Mr McKenzie again undertook the work, this time assisted by Mr Ken Goodall for 6 months. Following the expiration of this period, the work came to a halt. At the end of 1963, Robert Dunleavy and Graham Malthouse completed their studies at the Emmaus Bible College in Sydney and being made aware of the opening for Bible Van work came to Perth in January, 1964 for this specific purpose. Some delay was experienced in refurbishing the van, but the time was put to good advantage with the 2 young men circulating around the various metropolitan Assemblies. It was not until November, 1964 that they were eventually on the road with the Van. Various places were visited over the next 12 months when Bob and Graham came to the conclusion that their service for the Lord would be more effective if their efforts were concentrated in one area. Concurrent with this both workers had become engaged and were married, Graham in December, 1965 and Bob in April, 1966. These circumstances meant, of course, that the Bible Van was again idle and bearing in mind the difficulties experienced in maintaining a continuity of workers, the Committee decided in 1966 to pass the Van over to the Roelands Native Mission as they had need of intermittent accommodation as they visited various Aboriginal Communities.





This club was organised by several brethren in June, 1976 including Mr Arthur Rowcliffe and Mr Ray Dorn. Several canoes were procured and were much in use in the first 6 months of 1977.





In December, 1953, an exercise arose to conduct Open-air Meetings in various places during the summer months. Brethren initially involved were Fred Arbuckle, Stan Coffey, Phillip Kessel, Doug Lewis, John McKenzie, Bob Pitman and Ern Walker. New loud speaker equipment was purchased and permits were sought for permission to hold open-air meetings in various places throughout the suburbs. In September, 1954, a marquee campaign was held in Medina with good results. Other country visits were undertaken and places such as Mandurah, Busselton, Collie, Forest Grove, Augusta and Bunbury were visited. The work eventually included open-air meetings in Forrest Place, Perth, with various Assemblies taking responsibility each week. Also arising from this "Witness" a Male Voice Choir was organised in 1954 under the leadership of John McKenzie and the participants were listened to with much enjoyment.





During the Second World War, Messrs Eric and Albert Phoenix were stationed in Brisbane with the Army. Whilst there, they attended monthly Saturday evening meetings called E.C.M. Rallies, the initial letters standing for EXALT CHRIST MORE. On being discharged from the Army and returning to Perth, Albert was exercised about starting a similar Rally in Perth. This was soon organised under the name of the E.C.A. Rallies, the initial letters standing for EXALT CHRIST ALWAYS [EVERY CHRISTIAN'S AMBITION]. The first Rally was held in March, 1947 and it soon became a very popular and worthwhile monthly outreach held in the McNess Hall, 104 Pier Street, Perth. Some time later, a 20 or 30 strong choir was formed which proved to be a wonderful meeting time for young people as they met every Monday evening at the North Perth Gospel Chapel for practice and fellowship.


The McNees Hall in Pier St, Perth.

Image sourced from http://imageshack.us/


This choir was initially under the leadership of Graeme Michie with David Adams and Brian Hutchison leading for shorter periods in the later years. The 10th Anniversary was held on 26th January, 1957 and a Festival of Praise was arranged for 20th October, 1962 and was held in the presence of several hundred people. The Choir produced 2 excellent 12 inch records of their singing. These rallies proved to be a wonderful time of fellowship for young and old alike, with quite a number of people tracing their introduction to the Christian faith to these Rallies. Whilst we have not been able to ascertain the exact date of the cessation of these Rallies, the last reference we can find to their continuance is February, 1972. The discontinuance was regretted by many and the loss of these frequent opportunities for fellowship was greatly mourned.





In the 1960's an extension work from Kurrawang was commenced with the erection of a holiday home for use during the holiday periods when the children resident at Kurrawang, numbering at times to 80, were taken for a holiday by the sea. In 1967, Mr and Mrs W. Sharpe moved from Kurrawang because of asthma problems experienced by Mrs Sharpe, and they took up residence in a house built by the side of the holiday home. Their work amongst Aborigines was continued under the above name. In December, 1971, a Mission Display Centre was established at one end of the holiday home, and over succeeding years many hundreds of tourists called to see the exhibits, and it eventually became a regular visiting place for Tourist Buses.



Mr & Mrs Sharpe's display and souvenir shop in Esperance.  Photos taken & copyrighted by Max Jefferies www.Spiritland.net


Aboriginal artefacts were on display as well as many shell and other novelties made by Mr and Mrs Sharpe and the 3 Aboriginal girls who lived with them for some years. These novelties and ornaments were for sale and Mr Sharpe had many opportunities to proclaim the Gospel in a small way. Eventually, because of advancing years, Mr and Mrs Sharpe were unable to continue and the property was sold in October, 1985, with the name of Esperance Aboriginal Centre Inc. being changed to Christian Brethren Missionary Outreach Inc. The proceeds from the sale of the property were invested and from the interest received, workers and work amongst Aborigines and others, have been and are continuing to be supported.





In 1967, prompted by an enquiry by John West, an interest developed in the Rally movement and Mr Pat Paterson of Sydney, who was visiting Perth, was invited to share with us the benefits of this work. Arising from this a local Committee was established in October, 1967, with Miss Jean Lewis as the first Secretary. The possibilities of this work caught the imagination of many, and Rallies were established in several Assemblies - Balga, Bedford, Hamilton Hill, Tuart Hill, Wilson and Kurrawang. Things developed quickly and in May, 1968, Tuart Hill had their first Rally Sunday with 175 children and parents attending. The first Annual Sports Day was held at C.Y.C. at Lake Cooloongup in 1969. To everybody's surprise these sports were won by Kurrawang both for marching and sports. The secret was, of course, that as the Aboriginal children at Kurrawang lived in close proximity to each other, it was easy to get them together for practice with their enthusiastic leaders. Their natural athletic abilities also aided them tremendously. 


The Senior Bedford Park Every Boys Rally on a week-long camp in the south west.

Adult leaders are Peter Brown in green top right next to Max Jefferies, and John Wearne in the front.


The Sports Days were later held at Bayswater Oval. Swimming carnivals and special occasions for presentation of awards were also arranged, these latter occasions giving great opportunities for witness. Some years later quite a number travelled to Canberra for the Rally Arura held there, a few also attending the Rally Arura held some time later in New Zealand. The Rally movement proved valuable in providing many opportunities for Gospel witness and spiritual instruction. However, after some years of operation, the initial enthusiasm had passed and as other responsibilities developed, the amount of time involved became somewhat of a burden to many of the leaders and interest began to wane and all rallies have ceased to exist, with the lone exception of Bedford.


Excerpts from the New Zealand Rally website:


"What is Rally? - Every Boys and Girls Rally is an International Organisation that began in New Zealand. It is a club for ALL boys and girls aged between 7-16 years. Each individual Rally Group is autonomous – they run their own program under the umbrella of their church. There is a National Council that provides Resources, runs Camps and Training, the Rally Supplies centre, and oversees the Rally Movement as a whole. Districts also have an ‘Executive’ group that runs special Camps and Activity Days and keeps in contact with local Groups and passes information on to them from NZ Rally Council. The ‘Aims’ of the Rally Movement are to build children into worthy and useful citizens in the community, using three specific areas:
               - building strong Christian character (SPIRITUAL)
               - increased knowledge and understanding (EDUCATIONAL)
               - developing physical fitness and team co-operation (PHYSICAL)


"What Do You Do At Rally? - The Rally Movement provides opportunities for children to enjoy "doing. making, learning & being" in a safe and fun environment. The Aims of Rally – Spiritual, Educational & Physical – are attained through interesting, varied and disciplined activities. Many Rally programmes include some of the following:
              1.   Games
              2.   Fun activities
              3.   Craft/hobby work
              4.   Badge-work
              5.   Bible devotions (talks, singing. memory verses)
              6.   Outings
              7.   Sports days and camps
              8.   Leadership training courses
              9.   Higher Awards                                                       
Image sourced from Horowhenua Historical Society Inc


Rally provides social interaction. leadership opportunities, and challenges. Rally teaches Christian ethics and discipline. The Rally programme is varied and usually includes games, craft work, badge work, singing. Bible based teaching, family nights. camps, and outings. Rally members may also earn higher awards and attend special training camps as they get older. Regional activities of sporting or cultural events are popular. and local and International camps are also run for members... Some Rallies are mixed (boys and girls). but many prefer to provide a separate programme that is specifically planned for either boys or girls. Most Rallies meet fortnightly, but some are weekly. and all are run by Leaders that are committed to providing the children with an exciting and balanced programme that will meet the needs of the children while also reaching the Rally objectives."





In 1958 Mr and Mrs Alf Staer returned to W.A. after 4 years in South Australia. They purchased a large home in Kelmscott which was very soon made available for Camps, Retreats and House Parties. Every month a House Party was held for young people and "Gemsarna" and it's activities became a real challenge in their personal lives. This activity was carried on for quite a number of years until it became necessary for the Staers to relinquish the property because of advancing years.




The Bethany Hamilton Story: A Soul Surfer Journey

Many know Bethany Hamilton for the tragic and horrifying story of losing her arm while surfing to a shark attack,

but few know of the incredible story of how her faith and trust in God allowed her to overcome insurmountable obstacles...







In August, 1975, Colin Tilsley and Tony Gower visited W.A. and held a Bible Study Camp at C.Y.C. Lake Cooloongup. As a result of this, Prayer Suppers were commenced in various homes in anticipation of Crusades to be conducted during August and September, 1976 in Bunbury and Perth. To assist in the coordination of the Crusades, the Keswick Convention Camp at Orange Grove was booked for the preparatory work of organisation. The homes reached with Gospel literature during these Crusades numbered some 28,000 out of a target of 35,000.


Excerpts from the G.L.O. (Gospel Literature Outreach) website:


GLO began in Australia in 1965 primarily through the ministry of Colin Tilsley. Colin’s vision was to mobilise Christians to be involved in both long term and short term mission teams. The first short term team was to Madras, India. Longer term teams were established in France and Italy in the 1970s. Colin didn't live long enough to see his vision fully mature because he developed Motor Neurone Disease and died at the age of 46. Before his death, however, Colin was able to share his vision with others and the work of GLO became established in New Zealand and Europe.

The base for GLO Europe was established in Motherwell, Scotland in 1974. Today GLO Europe has over 50 full-time workers across Europe. From the beginning, the work of GLO Europe included the organising of short term mission teams and the establishing of a Bible Training Centre (now called Tilsley College). These ministries were complemented and supported by GLO Business Ministries which initially involved a Bookshop and Coffee Shop in Motherwell as well as a wholesale book ministry in Scotland, operated on behalf of STL (Send the Light Ministries). Funds from these ministries have been used to support the work of mission in Europe ever since.





After the establishment of the work amongst Jewish people in Sydney, a local Committee was set up in Western Australia to encourage support and to assist in the general outreach. Arising from this, and more importantly from the visits of Mr Bill Peterson the Director of the work, Mr and Mrs David Green of Hamilton Hill and Mr and Mrs Ron Attwood of Manjimup became exercised about the work and were commended from their Assemblies to the work in Sydney where they remained for some years. Ron and Robyn Attwood eventually returned to Perth. Leon Whisson of Dalwallinu was also exercised about the work and was commended to the work in Sydney. Whilst there, he became engaged to Suzanne Brown of New Zealand, also a worker in Jewish Outreach. They were married in W.A. in January, 1978, continuing for a while with Jewish Outreach work locally. The support was not adequate, leading to the ultimate withdrawal from the work. Mr George Michie and Dr Cecil Jumeaux also did quite a lot of personal visitation work amongst Jewish people. The local Committee was ultimately disbanded and the world wide work has been changed to the name, "Focus on Israel".





By invitation of the Kwinana Construction Group the Claremont Assembly had the opportunity to conduct an outreach on a fortnightly basis in 1953. John McKenzie, Chief Accountant with the Kwinana organisation was able to arrange for the meetings to be held in the men's dining and recreation rooms.





For many years a special Sunday School was conducted early on Sunday mornings for the benefit of the disabled and cripple children at the Lady Lawley Cottage by the Sea at Cottesloe. Several people were regularly involved but we believe the effort was originally organised by Mr and Mrs Bob Rodgers. They were later joined by others including Mr Doug Lewis, who continued the leadership after the homecall of Mr Rodgers. At a later date Mr and Mrs John Thompson were also involved. Simple Gospel messages were taught each Sunday and the children encouraged to sing simple choruses with which they could cope. At Christmas time, a Christmas party was held with presents for the children. The staff were always very cooperative and appreciated the efforts put forward on behalf of the children.


The Lady Lawley Cottage at Cottesloe.  Image sourced from http://innopac.slwa.wa.gov.au/





At some time during the Second World War [1939-1945] Mr Alf Brown, with others, organized an outreach to servicemen and women. These sing-alongs were held in the McNess Hall, next to the St Andrews Presbyterian Church in the city (of Perth), a hall much used by the Assemblies for combined meetings. Servicemen and women wandering around the city were invited in for these occasions and this outreach was continued for a good part of the war period.




In 1946, separate Young Women's Classes and Young Men's Classes were organized through the influence of Mr Arthur Willy. These meetings were carried on for several years and were held in various homes. We believe that the effects of these studies were subsequently seen in the lives of a number of the young people involved and in some cases led to missionary service.





In June 1960, a decision was made by Mr John Ferguson and Mr Dick Harding to make regular visits to various prisons with the object of witnessing to the prisoners. Fremantle Prison was, of course, the main object of their attention, but visits were also made to Barton's Mill, Karnet Brook, and Albany. Other brethren were also periodically involved including Mr Geoff Hiam and this outreach was carried on for many years. A valuable contribution to this work was the gift by the Emmaus Bible Correspondence School of their valuable course, “What the Bible Teaches”. These courses were made available entirely free of any cost to the prisoners and many courses were completed and sent in for marking. This led to other courses also being made available as required and we believe that many were helped by these studies. A number of ladies were also involved in Women's Prison visitation - Mrs E. Cartmel, Miss Ruth Galloway, and Mrs Olive West. These visits were also initially to Fremantle, but later to the Bandyup Training Centre.





Whilst we are not sure of the exact year of the commencement of these Conferences which were held for many years in the McNess Hall, Pier Street, Perth, we do know that they were in operation in 1944. A Committee of brethren representing the various Assemblies regularly met to arrange these occasions. Attendance was fairly good on the Saturday evenings with attendances from 120-150, whilst in the afternoons the numbers were often only about 30-40. Many happy and profitable times were enjoyed at these Conferences. After many years increasing motor traffic caused a lot of parking difficulties and so in 1969, it was decided to move the Conferences to the local Assembly halls on a rotation basis. From here on the central Committee was abandoned and arrangements were made by the elders of the Assembly where the next Conference was to be held. Lack of interest and forgetfulness by some Assemblies ultimately caused the cessation of these combined meetings. The last reference to a Quarterly Conference was in August, 1976. It would appear from this that the desirability of maintaining regular contact between the various Assemblies had lost some attraction and individuals were more concerned about “doing their own thing”. Conferences of this character are only now arranged spasmodically.





In December, 1986, the brethren at Victoria Park Assembly took up the opportunity to broadcast from Station 6NR under the name of “Beliefs for Today”. The arrangement of the programmes was in the hands of Mr Alfred Solomon, with various people giving short messages. These sessions were continued until early in 1992.





As far back as the 1940's and 1950's, attempts have been made to establish a witness at the annual Royal Show. Initially several brethren under the leadership of Mr Ted Wilkinson distributed Gospel tracts at the exits from the Show. Tracts were much cheaper to buy in those days and many were thrown on to the ground by the recipients. The authorities took exception to this and the effort had, eventually, to be abandoned. In more recent years, Mr John Poole with other brethren associated with the Fremantle City Mission, rented a site inside the Show and set up a stand where Gospel literature was available. Many fruitful discussions have been engaged in and we believe many people were helped spiritually. In recent years the Show authorities have declined to make a stand site available.





In the late 1960's and early 1970's, several brethren were exercised about a Christian literature programme. Lloyd Freeth, Douglas Lewis, and Dick Black were the main movers, and during 1970 the Gospel tract “Taste and See” was printed in Greek and Italian and 17,600 copies were distributed or sent to other places for distribution. In 1971 concentration was on the Telegu [Indian] language and 20,000 copies were sent to India for distribution.





Arising from the periodical visits of Mr Charlie Wilson and the Phoenix brothers to the South-West, Mr Wilson developed an exercise to maintain contact with the many children that they had met during their travels. Many of these children had no access to Sunday Schools and so a contact was maintained by a monthly duplicated letter. As the success of this personal effort became evident, the idea developed to expand further and to involve others in the outreach as well. Accordingly a group of mature young believers were coopted and a duplicated children's magazine called, “The Searcher,” was brought into being in 1935. The original Committee members were Charlie Wilson [Editor], Albert Phoenix, Douglas and Jean Lewis and May McIntosh. In about 1938 Olive and Ern West [daughter and son-in-law respectively of Mr Wilson] were also invited to contribute articles for The Searcher and to join the Committee. After a comparatively short illness, Mr Wilson was called home to be with the Lord in July 1940 and Ern West was invited to become the Editor of The Searcher which he did, but maintained the “nom-de-plume” of Uncle Charlie in honour of his predecessor.


Mr Alan McDougall of Albany had been a tremendous support and friend to Mr Wilson in his evangelistic efforts amongst country children and this support continued for many years. Over the years, various circumstances brought changes to the Committee, but the production of the magazine continued with a reasonable amount of blessing. The magazine consisted of Gospel stories, Bible stories, a “mail-bag” and also questions on the Bible. Many came to know the Lord or were helped in their Christian pathway and some have continued in Church fellowship even to the present day. The work continued until 1964 when the Australia wide work of the Postal Sunday School Movement [then under the leadership of Pat and Helen Paterson of Sydney] was introduced to Western Australia and it was decided to combine the efforts of The Searcher and P.S.S.M. to avoid duplication of effort and to avoid unnecessary wastage of manpower. Members of the W.A. Assemblies continue to serve with P.S.S.M. as Committee members, correspondence teachers, camp workers and office helpers.





For quite a number of years from 1959, ladies from some of the Assemblies regularly visited patients at the Wooroloo Hospital and on a monthly basis. This service was continued for many years.  







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