a short history of WBC...
What we now know as Werribee Baptist Church began in 1969 when Alan Nunn, then the Pastor at Sunshine – St. Albans, invited people who were living in Werribee but worshipping in other Baptist churches to discuss the possibility of commencing a Baptist Church in Werribee. The group discerned that this was indeed something that God was calling them to do and so a home group that was meeting in Laverton moved to Werribee and the process began. In 1970 the fledgling church moved to the Mossfiel Primary School and was constituted as a church with the Baptist Union of Victoria on March 17th 1971 with 15 members. Early in 1972 services were moved to the Mossfiel Hall and later that year, Geoff Rowse came to be the first full-time Pastor.
An old church newsletter we recently found tells us that on May 20th, 1976 there were 61 adults at church and 75 children in Sunday School in two branches – one at Hoppers Crossing and the other at Wyndham Vale. Indeed God had been at work in this little church and the need for a permanent home was pressing. With the help of the Victorian Baptist Church Extension Department & Home Mission, a building big enough to accommodate the growing church was erected on land on the corner of Derrimut Road and Wilmott Drive. It was opened on 3rd July 1977. Geoff Rowse concluded his ministry later that year and the church called Joe Westlake to be the Pastor in 1978. By January 1980, the church was growing and all sorts of building plans were considered.
At the same time consideration was being given to the establishment of a Christian School and through Joe Westlake and others in the church the God-given vision soon became a reality. After much prayer and seeking, the school (which came to be known as Heathdale Christian College) bought a 50-acre plot of land from the Urban Land Authority on the Corner of Heaths and Derrimut Roads. This indeed was a step of faith considering that they had no money to actually do that! The church paid $20,000 for its 4.5 acre site. Then nearly half the land was then sold to a developer to build a retirement village covering the cost of the purchase and the school now owned the land, the church secured their land for 40% of the expected cost on prime real estate. Praise the Lord!
The school began in 1982 and spent the first 2 years at the church building at Wilmott Drive. The relationship between school and the church has remained close and intertwined.
As the church was again bursting to overflowing it was clear that the time had come for the land to be built on. In March 1986, the 15th Anniversary of the church, a building fund was launched and work was undertaken in the next two years and the new building was opened in July 1988 to a great celebration. Joe Westlake concluded his ministry in 1989 and John Evans who had begun the year before was affirmed to be the Pastor.
Church services grew and by 1993 attendances were about 250 in the morning and 130 at night. Ministry to the community was happening through the Playgroup, CRE, Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard and visitation to Glendale – all these ministries continue on till this day. Unspectacular but important developments such as the development of small groups feature in Annual reports in the 1990’s. Various ministry options were considered to do with counselling centres and consideration of new buildings were looked at without resolution. In 2000 Bill Brisbane joined as Associate Pastor served the church as acting Pastor on 3 different occasions. In 2001 John Evans concluded his ministry with us.
After a 3 year term of interim ministry led by Bill Brisbane and Kevin Yelverton, Mark Wilkinson joined the church as Senior Pastor in 2004. Since that time God has been at work in the church to bring about a new phase of great growth and blessing. In the following 5 years, the pastoral team grew from 2 to 5 and the church attendances had nearly doubled.
In 2008, in response to a rapidly increasing population amongst Karen refugees in Wyndham, a Karen language service was begun at WBC with well over 280 people attending just 5 years later.
In 2013, we now have on average 850 attending church across 4 church services. These 850 people come from 50 different nationalities and comprise of all ages. We now have 14 on the church staff and a wide variety of flourishing ministries. And as we are continuing to grow at a rapid rate we are again in the position of needing to build another building to accommodate what Jesus is doing as he builds his church!