Williamstown Baptist Church was founded in 1868. For nearly a century and a half it has played an important part in the Wiliamstown community. During the past 12 years or so it has been on a journey which has led to its present more radical form. (This is appropriate, since the first groups of Baptists were part of a movement that became known as ‘The Radicals’). The Lord has given us a ministry to the unchurched and lonely, and to those who have been wounded by ‘church’ or family. We meet in a converted house (Beth Tephillah), usually on Friday night rather than Sunday, to worship, learn and eat together. We always seem to be eating! We seek to be faithful to the teaching and ministry of Jesus, and always Holy Spirit directed, as we rediscover our Father God’s gifts to the church which have so often been obscured by tradition and the western culture in which we live.
If you would like to explore the earlier history of one of Victoria’s oldest Baptist churches then you might like to visit our History Pages.
During the past two years (2010-2011) we have made the decision to intentionally become a simple, organic church, and that future growth will be in the form of a network of simple house churches, with Beth Tephillah Ministry Centre as a resource and a hub for the network. We call this the Beth Tephillah Simple Church Network, and we are presently exploring ‘planting’ our first simple churches.
Since 1996 Beth Tephillah Ministry Centre has been a ministry of Williamstown Baptist Church. It is a centre for prayer ministry and training in prayer ministry, intercession, healing, discipleship, and resourcing of the church and community. The house in which we meet has been modified to provide spaces for gathering, eating together, ministry and meeting rooms, a library, and a pleasant garden for outdoor activities.
Beth Tephillah Ministries provides training opportunities and resources, with courses that can be hosted by local churches. Contact us if you would like a seminar on Hearing God’s Voice, Prayer Ministry, Spiritual Warfare, Intercession or Prophetic Ministry in your church. Past events have included bringing Dr. Charles Kraft to Melbourne and country Victoria for teaching and ministry seminars. Chuck Kraft is an anthropologist and was a professor for many years at Fuller Seminary in California. He is one of the world’s best teachers of healing prayer ministry and dealing with demons, and directs Hearts Set Free Ministries International.
Williamstown Baptist Church is a founding member of Awakening West, a network for encouraging cooperation between churches in Melbourne’s Western Suburbs, and a member of Hobsons Bay Churches. Our pastors, Malcolm and Diana, are active in the associated Hobsons Bay Pastors Network. We are also in partnership with Melbourne Pastors Network. As part of our ministry to the simple church community, Malcolm and Diana have become the Regional Team for Melbourne’s Western Suburbs for Oikos, the Australia wide simple church friendship network, and are part of Converge, a group of people exploring apostolic and prophetic leadership for Melbourne’s simple, organic churches. This is an initiative of The Gathering – an emerging citywide ‘wineskin’ for the church of Melbourne, Australia.
The City of Williamstown
The lovely old seaport that is the City of Williamstown, recently amalgamated with surrounding municipalities to become the City of Hobsons Bay, has an important place in the history of Victoria.
In 1837,the Governor of New South Wales, Sir Richard Bourke, named Williamstown after King William IV. It was to be the capital of the new colony on Port Philip Bay, but because of the lack of a source of fresh water, Melbourne, named after the English Prime Minister, was selected instead. Williamstown is Port Phillip’s oldest continuous settlement.
By 1840s about 100 buildings had been constructed, and the first pier, close to the present Gem Pier, saw huge traffic in sheep, horses and passengers, mainly from Tasmania. A Time Ball Tower was erected in 1848 for use as a lighthouse and to allow vessels in the bay to set their chronometers to the correct time for correct navigation purposes.
Williamstown was granted municipal status in 1851 following the separation of the Colony of Victoria from the Colony of New South Wales, and the first Council was elected in April 1856. In 1859 the first government-owned railway from Melbourne to Williamstown was constructed. This help provide impetus for the growth of industry in the port area, including 13 slips for boat repairs and building, pier accommodation for 40 vessels, freezing works, railway workshops, woollen mills, gasworks, glassworks, petroleum repacking depot and sewerage works.
Williamstown expanded to incorporate Newport and Spottiswoode(now Spotswood) in 1864. This was about the time of the first meetings of what became Williamstown Baptist Church. Williamstown was proclaimed a City in 1919.
Williamstown has always had a mix of residential and industrial areas, and has been a refuge for many migrants from across the world. In particular, it was the gateway into the Central Victorian goldfields during the gold-rush days.
The construction of the West Gate Bridge reduced the travel time by road to Melbourne considerably, so that what was once working-class suburb with a country town atmosphere, has more recently seen an influx of young families, and a rapid rise in property values. Williamstown has become a desirable tourist destination, with its mix of heritage buildings, across the water views of Melbourne, multicultural dining and pavement cafe culture.
The City of Hobsons Bay – In 1994 the cities of Williamstown, Altona, and parts of South Kingsville, Yarraville and Laverton were amalgamated to form the present City of Hobsons Bay. This has transformed what was largely an Anglo-Saxon enclave into a city with a highly diverse cultural mix.
The sale of the Rifle Range, then little used except for some club rifle shooting and the annual Queen’s Shoot competition, and its development as a housing estate with 900 homes, has made what was always a delightful city into an even more desirable place to live. Where once Williamstown was considered to be near the bottom of the socio-economic scale, houses in Williamstown are now among Melbourne’s most expensive.
Hobsons Bay has its share of industries, including railway workshops, a navy dockyard, chemical industries and an oil refinery, which provide good employment prospects, and are generally well separated from residential areas.
Social needs are well catered for, with good public transport, numerous schools, a university campus, five public libraries, several museums, Science Works, a planetarium, many clubs and pubs, excellent beaches, several sailing clubs, the historic minesweeper Castlemaine, an interesting waterfront, pleasant parks, sports grounds, wonderful restaurants of all ethnic varieties, and forty-three churches.