City Baptist Church was formed in 2001 with the amalgamation of Elphin Road Baptist Church and Christ Church Baptist Church, and worships in what was a Congregational church building. This page summarises the long and complex history of these three entities.

The page is very much a work in progress, and will be extended as more information becomes available. If you have any comments or information please contact the webmaster.

There is an accompanying photograph gallery, also a work in progess.

1840 Congregational services were held in a schoolroom in Frederick Street until the St. John's Square Chapel was opened in 1842. [1] The chapel contained a fine organ.

Rev. John West was the first pastor, and was active in helping to found Launceston City Mission, the Launceston Examiner, and the Anti-Transportation League. He continued as pastor until he became editor of the Sydney Morning Herald in 1854.
Rev. William Law became pastor in 1854 and served until 1902.

1884 The Launceston Baptist Tabernacle in was built by Gibson and Sons in Cimitière Street with room for 800 worshippers, [2] though the initial membership was 25 with an unknown number of adherents. [3] The building ceased to be a church in 1950.

Rev. Alfred Bird was the first pastor. He had been trained at Charles Haddon Spurgeon's London College (known as the Pastor's College) as were some 44 Spurgeon men who were serving in Australia by 1887. [5]. He stayed for three years then went to Ballarat, then Melbourne where he was the Honorary Secretary for the China Inland Mission and started the first Christian Endeavor Society in Australia.[7]

1885 Christ Church Congregational Church grew out of the St. John's Square Chapel next door which was renamed Milton Hall.[1] The organ was moved into the church. Between 1913 and 1916 Milton Hall was one of the campuses of what was to become Launceston College.[8]

1907 Elphin Road Baptist Church was planted by the Baptist Tabernacle, and became independent in 1917 with Pastor David Samuel Harvey as minister.[6]

In 1936 Elphin Road Baptist Church planted Newstead Baptist Church which became independent in 1939.[4] Elphin Road Baptist Church also had outreach ministries in Ravenswood, Kings Meadows, and East Launceston around this time. [6 p12]

For two of the years between September 1941 and August 1944 while Elphin Road Baptist Church was without a pastor Rev. P.C Bennett of the Launceston Tabernacle took two Sunday services a month, presided at the prayer meetings, and provided some visitation. [6 p19]

1950 The Baptist Tabernacle moved to Brisbane Street and became Central Baptist Church.[4]

1975 Christ Church Congregational Church joined with Chalmer's Presbyterian Church and Paterson Street Methodist Church to become Pilgrim Uniting Church.

1983 Central Baptist Church bought the Christ Church Congregational Church and Milton Hall buildings and became Christ Church Baptist Church. [4]

2001 Elphin Road Baptist Church and Christ Church Baptist Church amalgamated to become City Baptist Church.

Foot notes
1. 'Nineteenth Century Launceston Churches', Launceston Historical Society, 1992
2. The Cyclopedia of Tasmania vol 2 p 38
3. Church News Launceston 1883-2006 p1
4. 'Launceston Churches of the 20th Century', Launceston Historical Society, 1996
5. 'Baptists in Van Diemen's Land' Laurence F. Rowston, 1985
6. 'A Church and its people', Olive Dowling, 1990.
7. Baptist Handbook 1928
8. Launceston College website

Updated 12 October 2008