Our church began in early 1969 when a small group of people gathered together and decided to begin a Baptist work in Berwick. They requested assistance from Doveton Baptist Church and it was given. At first, services were held in the home of the Stickley family in Berwick. By late 1969 the lounge room was outgrown and Sunday services were moved to the Berwick RSL Hall. William (Bill) Bell was the first Pastor, followed by George Williams.
On 31st October 1971 the church was constituted as Berwick Baptist Church. Some of the original members still attend to this day.
A manse was purchased in Berwick in 1973 and Tom Smith became Pastor. The church continued to grow and land was purchased for a new church site, but neighbours objected. In 1977 the old Congregational Church in Beaconsfield became vacant so it was decided that this old building would be rented from the Uniting Church and made into our new home. We changed our name to “Beaconsfield Baptist Church” and for many years, it was the only church in Beaconsfield. The land in Berwick was sold, and two large blocks were bought in Officer at Pink Hill. Rev. Frank Wakeling had become our Pastor during this period and continued until the early ‘80s.
On 14th September, 1984 Tolly Jaloshin was inducted as Pastor. He organised a Lay Renewal weekend, with a team of people from Texas. Their enthusiasm was contagious and helped bring our church out of a period of doldrums into which we had fallen.
When the Pakenham Bypass opened, through traffic in Beaconsfield was greatly reduced. In 1985 the Mobil Service Station on the highway, with its truck stop café and huge workshop closed and was put on the market. The property abutted the old church site which we had recently purchased at a very reasonable price. Despite ours not being the highest offer, the owner sold to us as he didn’t want another oil company to get it. The Pink Hill blocks were considered to be too far out of town as a potential church site and so were sold at a good profit. The café was renovated and became our new worship sanctuary and the old church building our Sunday School hall. The workshop was leased to one of our members for his antique furniture business. The total cost for the two properties was half the amount paid for a smaller block nearby and we felt truly blessed. To cover all our new expenses we had needed to vastly increase our income. Our congregation was inspired to rise to the challenge, and giving more than tripled. There was a new sense of purpose and a strong sense of God’s blessing upon the church. Attendance figures increased by 40% and the youth group doubled.
In 1989 the old manse in Berwick was sold and a new one built in Beaconsfield. Fred Rudd became our new Pastor. Cliff Bennetts had been Interim Pastor and he stayed on voluntarily as Assistant Pastor. In the 1990’s Fred could see that we were rapidly going to outgrow our building and encouraged future planning. In 1990 our first “Carols By the Creek” was held and this activity has become a well supported Christmas event. It was at this time that plans were drawn for a staged enlargement and redevelopment, and the first stage was carried out.
In 1994 the church had reached the “80% full” mark and the possibility of a church plant at Pakenham was discussed. The vision was that while ongoing growth was desired we would rather plant new churches than grow so large that the friendly atmosphere would be lost. Pakenham Baptist Church began meeting at a school in 1995. It was also decided at this time that since the Church was doing so well financially, we would consider tithing the Church income and put it into God’s work outside of own church interests. This money was divided between foreign missions and local outreach. A missionary committee was set up to choose and support missionaries. We currently have 9 missionaries under our support. The local outreach funds were used in part to help establish Pakenham Baptist Church and later the Officer Church plant known as Katalyst.
In 1998 Gary Piper became our Pastor. Peter Jack became youth pastor in the late 1990s. During this period we had an ongoing problem with deteriorating old buildings and frequent vandalism. Graffiti and window breakages were common. The old workshop was vacated and a coffee shop, “Lighthouse” was set up. This became a much loved and decorated place by the youth of the time. However, as the building was in such bad shape it wasn’t long before it had to be demolished.
In March 2001, David Morland became Pastor. In 2003, Andy Staunton became youth pastor followed a few years later by Andrew Firth. Plans for future development continued and numbers increased. However, we did not meet the council’s parking requirements for the proposed new building and they were keen to have us moved away from their planned extended shopping precinct. With maintenance problems continuing, a place further afield began to have more appeal and a larger block was eventually purchased at 7 Desmond Court. Once again, the congregation rose to the challenge of meeting greater financial needs and giving was greatly increased. The plans for the new building were adapted to the new site. The old site was sold to a developer who graciously allowed us to stay on at a low rent. Many seemingly insurmountable hurdles were overcome before the new building finally opened in October 2007.
Once the new building opened we experienced continued amazing growth due, in part, to the massive growth corridor in which we are situated but also because people who came to visit chose to stay. Much work was done in increasing our Pastoral Care and Small Groups ministry during this time. A new church plant was planned and started in the south of Officer. This became known as “Katalyst Church”.
Oscar Correa became our Youth Pastor in 2009. The youth ministry blossomed. We soon had more than 280 people attending Sunday services and our 350 seat auditorium having hit the 80% full mark was feeling crowded. We began to hold two identical morning services.
In February 2012 Luke Williams became our first full time Associate Pastor. In July that year David Young became our part time Youth Pastor.
The strong biblical preaching, excellent worship music, genuine friendliness, home groups, & social activities for all ages, just seemed to draw people in. Our numbers continue to grow and we are still looking for ways to accommodate all who may wish to come to Beaconsfield Baptist without them feeling crowded or invisible. We are again considering a new church plant, as well as looking at ways to extend our facilities at Desmond Court, in order to cater for continuing growth. We now have 350 to 400 people attending our Sunday morning services and 70 to 100 in the evening.
The next few years saw many changes to Beaconsfield Baptist including the farewell of Pastor David Morland and the welcoming of Pastor Graeme Dunkley as his replacement. In 2015 Luke Williams planted the Follow Baptist Church in Officer, and Beaconsfield Baptist employed two additional pastors to meet the growing needs of the church.
By God’s grace Beaconsfield Baptist continues to grow and we have a desire to see the Gospel proclaimed in our region and to compliment existing Churches in this endeavour.