The story of the Northcote Baptist Church began in 1949 as a Sunday School in the home of Joseph and Sarah Thompson at 7 Hillcrest Ave. Just four years earlier, during World War Two, after 32 years as missionaries in China, they were forced under threat from the invading Japanese forces to escape from the coastal area where they were working.
Back in New Zealand they finally settled in Northcote where they saw a need, and started a Sunday school. The school quickly grew under their leadership and with the assistance and encouragement of local farmers, Mr and Mrs Eban and their family.
Within a few years…
- Adult services were started in the Thompson home, known as the Hillcrest Baptist Fellowship;
- In 1958 they purchased land next door to the Thompson’s house and the original church hall (30 feet by 40 feet) was erected;
- On 18 August 1958 the New Zealand Herald reported that about 200 people attended the opening;
- The first service of the new officially recognised church was held on 18 August 1963;
- The first minister/pastor of Northcote Baptist Church, Rev. Doug Rushbrook, arrived in the district during 1964;
- In 1962 Mr and Mrs Eban subdivided their farm and made a gift to the new Church of two sections at the end of Sylvia Road (Eban Ave was not complete at that stage);
- The church building was shifted to Sylvia Road in late 1963; and
- The present auditorium was opened on 5 August 1973 (most of the interior finishing and fittings was done by volunteers).
While this covers just the initial years, the story of God’s blessing continues with the development of many new ministries, and the leaving behind of others; all planned to meet the needs of new and changing and challenging times.