History of Williamstown Baptist Church 1868 to 1968
Page 4: 1870 to 1879
There were three Pastors between 1868 and 1883-Pastor Harvey from Beaufort supplied the pulpit for three months in October, 1872.
From March 1871 Mr. Carter supplied the pulpit for 3 months. In August 1871, Mr. Collins, of the Baptist Association, was asked to recommend a permanent Pastor.
1st MINISTRY—Pastor Harvey—4 months
In May 1872 it was decided to offer Pastor Harvey the Pastorate at £2 per week. He accepted and he and his wife came from Beaufort in July 1872. Mr. Harvey was unable to continue because of the financial difficulties and he finally resigned on October 25th, 1872. In December 1872 the Church asked the Home Mission for 30/- per week to support a Pastor.
2nd MINISTRY—Rev. Mr. Garner—6 months
In March 1873 it was decided to ask Rev. Mr. Garner to take the Pastorate at not less than £2 per week. He commenced on approximately July 1873, but again because the Church could not support him financially left at the end of 1873.
3rd MINISTRY—Rev. David Rees—15 months
In February, 1874, the Rev. David Rees accepted over-sight of the Church and continued until April 29th 1875. Mr. Isaac Hopkins then took over as Chairman ‘ The Church then carried on without a pastor for several years and from February 1876 relied upon Rev. W. Poole of Emerald Hill to baptise candidates at his own Church and at the back-beach and to generally take an interest in the affairs of the Church. This situation continued for 7 years until when the Rev. J. Downing was appointed.
About 1883, Williamstown, which was the Port of Melbourne, experienced the beginning of a gradual transfer of port facilities to Port Melbourne. This was almost complete by 1912 and obviously had a marked effect on the Church membership, as many were in Government employment.
In January 1876 services reverted to the Oddfellows’ Hall. Three Deacons, Hopkins, McLeish and Hutchinson were elected in October 1876. In August 1877 a Building Committee was formed. Isaac Hopkins was still the leader of the group at this stage.
At a meeting on 19th October, 1877, it was agreed to bid up to £-0-0 per foot for land in Electra Street to be sold on 20th October. On the lst November, 1877, it was reported that this land was sold to a stranger for 48/- per foot. There was no’ recorded reason for the failure to purchase. It was then decided to bid up to £2-10-0 per foot at an auction in Melbourne for a 69’7″ lot in Cecil Street. The membership at this time was 26. At a special meeting held later that month Isaac Hopkins reported that the 69’7″ lot in Cecil Street was purchased by him for £2-0-0 per foot and that one third of the purchase price was loaned by him at 7 per cent interest. A Building Committee consisting of all male members was formed-three forming a quorum.
On 10th July 1878, five trustees were elected with powers to transact any business connected with the Church. The maximum number of trustees to be thirteen. On October 3rd, 1878, a building fund account was set up for each member to contribute to in order to pay off the land debt. By October 24th, 1878, the revision of Church rolls reduced the membership to 19-Sunday School scholars numbered 50 with 6 teachers.
In March 1879, Rev. W. Poole of Emerald Hill advised the Church that he could not arrange preachers to supply the pulpit.
Rev. S. Chapman of the Collins Street Church agreed to assist with arranging of “supplies” and took an active Interest in the Church’s welfare. Finances were again low in 1879-80, but the work steadily improved.