HISTORY OF TWEED HEADS CHURCH OF CHRIST
Churches of Christ ministries on the Tweed date back to 1907 when meetings were first held at Brays Creek near Tyalgum. This original fellowship led to the building of a church in Tyalgum and later the commencement of a Murwillumbah church during 1948-49 that eventually opened their present chapel in 1957.
Murwillumbah church saw the need for an outreach at Kingscliff, mainly to those who flocked to the seaside for the Christmas break and a crusade was conducted there in the summer of 1963, by evangelist Doug Willis.
From that 1963 crusade came several decisions for Christ, and it was decided to commence Sunday afternoon worship services in the Kingscliff Amenties Hall, led by Mr George Davis, Murwillumbah’s minister. A vital Sunday School was established under the leadership of Mr Don Bartrim.
These meetings were continued till 10th March, 1968 but local support had fallen away and it was decided to explore the possibility of establishing a church at Tweed Heads.This came about by the then Murwillumbah Minister, George Davis conducting bible studies with several Tweed Heads members, in particular the Steele and Fletcher families from Piggabeen.
Out of these meetings came a vision to establish a Tweed Heads-Coolangatta Church of Christ fellowship from the home meetings at the Steeles Piggabeen residence. As numbers increased it was decided to hire a hall in Tweed Heads and meetings commenced in the CWA Hall in Bay Street, on 17th March 1968.
Foundation members were Mr and Mrs Richardson, Mr and Mrs Steele and their children, Mr and Mrs Purvis, Mr and Mrs Scholes, Mr and Mrs Wisdom, Mr and Mrs Fletcher and children, Mrs M.Phillips, Mrs Sweeting, Mrs Blank, Mrs Morgan, Mrs G. Phillips and Mrs Cook.
Student Ministers on a casual basis were provided with Graham Poulton being the first, followed by Gary Stadden (1969) and Mike Pelling (1970). The average weekly offering was $22.
Mr and Mrs Richardson, one of the founding couples who had businesses in New Guinea and Australia felt called by God, and inspired by Mrs Richardson’s brother, Mr Brown the churches secretary, to provide better facilities for the fellowship and on their own initiative purchased two blocks of land on the then new Greenbank Island estate and funding to build a chapel, and after extensive planning contracted local builders Hanna and Edmed, to erect the Chapel in Florence Street, Tweed Heads.
With the official opening of the first Tweed Heads-Coolangatta Church of Christ chapel on 27th February, 1971, Mr Roy Ackland and his wife Connie, became the first couple to be appointed Ministers to the new fellowship.
In the ensuing years Mr Doug Paddon ministered part-time (1972), the Acklands again ministered during 1973 and 1974-75 Doug Paddon from Kenmore Bible College to lead the fellowship. 1975 saw the erection of the Manse on land previously purchased by the Richardsons and again that family contributed significantly to its construction and cost. With the new manse the church employed its first full time Pastor, Mr Daryl Krause, formerly from Engadine, having come from the USA.
The Krauses unfortunately had to return to America owing to ill health in October 1976.
After the Krause’s return to America, one of the interim speakers was Mr Lyall Wylie and his wife Bess. The Wylies were called to Ministry at Tweed and were inducted in February 1977. Lyall served until he was killed in a car accident.
Pivotal to the churches growth for many years at the Greenbank site was the input from Don and Olga Bartrrim, cane farmers from Muwillumbah, who led a vibrant Junior Church program, that inevitably led to the need to appoint
associate Youth Pastors, John Willis and later Guy Cooper. The Junior Church and youth programs expanded and grew to considerable numbers requiring the hire of a bus and eventual purchase of the churches own bus.
This growth of youth and members required extensions to be constructed to the existing hall and in 1979 these extensions were officially opened.
Under successive Senior Pastors Lyall Wylie, Maurie Pieper, Richard Oakes and Bruce Warwick, the church continued to grow to a point where two services were conducted each Sunday mornings along with evening services. During the ministry of Bruce Warwick the church undertook a major rebuilding program turning the worship area 90 degrees to the old chapel, construction of another hall adjoining the Manse and the manse itself was turned into office space. Neighbours became increasingly concerned with parking and increased traffic. This growth came with obvious growing pains, particularly with the Florence Street site now being developed to its maximum potential, as allowed by the local Council.
The church had two interim Pastors, namely Roger Foletta and Alan Can who contributed also to the stability of he church for short periods.
As the fellowship continued to grow the inadequacies of the Florence Street site became increasingly more obvious and under the leadership of Brian Bruce the Pastor at the time, an exploratory group to explore alternative sites was formed where growth could be accommodated.
Co-incidentally around this time, 2008, the church was approached by a developer wanting to buy the Florence Street Church and manse sites along with neighbouring adjoining properties. The church held a special meeting to discuss the developers offer which resulted in an overwhelming affirmative decision to sell, which resulted in a contract being signed with the developer to be settled in 2009.
During this period the Chinderah Site was presented to members and a decision to purchase was affirmed with plans to develop Chinderah into a Community Centre with the existing on site Sports Centre continuing to operate. As an interim worship centre the church decided to meet in the Banora Point School.
Over the life of the church many young people were assisted in studies in theology, of which most went onto serve God in different roles. Those that I can recall include Haydon Parsons, Gifford Smith, Justin Whitecross and Stuart White. Ryan Clift our most recent graduate commenced his studies in 2010 and was our first to study under a new “apprentice model”.
With the resignation of Brian Bruce, the church found itself without a full time pastor for the first time in a number of years and functioned without a Pastor for a period until Mr Jay Jay Meyer took up the role. Following his resignation another period without a Pastor ensued until 2017 when our current Pastor Mr John Latta commenced.
With our 50th Anniversary approaching next year it would be remiss to not mention the many Youth Leaders over the years and indeed short term “Fill-in” Pastors who have contributed to the churches well being over many years.
The great men of God who have led our church over the years as Pastors, and indeed the Eldership and Admin teams have remained the backbone strength to our fellowship, and with countless volunteers have enabled it, along with God’s faithfulness and His guidance, to survive for the period that it has.
We have seen many churches come and go, yet God has held Tweed Heads hand firmly and will continue to do so in the future.