Clocking up 50 years of local history

Clocking up 50 years of local history

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Thornlie Baptist Church’s Norma Mackenzie and Susan Clifford hope to rejuvenate Thornlie Baptist Church’s place in the community. Photograph – Richard Polden.

Hidden away in a quiet, suburban corner of Thornlie lies something of a historical secret.

While the suburb has steadily become part of the metropolis we see today, some signposts of the birth of the area remain.

Some of them, like Thornlie Baptist Church, are about to celebrate their 50th anniversary, and hope to spark resurgence in attendees once again.

From humble beginnings in a pastor’s small living room, to the dominant church service in Thornlie, to the modern days of community organisations and sporting clubs has seen the church rise and fall in participation.

It’s something on the minds of the church’s congregation, especially as they approach such a significant milestone.

“Sometimes we think we’re a bit tucked away,” former deaconess Norma Mackenzie said.

“I don’t think it’s a problem – you choose what church you go to – but we don’t have as much of the visibility that a lot of the other churches get.

“Even though we’re in the community, people aren’t really rushing to us, and we could probably be doing more in that.

“That’s what we’re trying to do here – inform everyone of the history right here in this room.”

The history of the church mirrors the history of the suburb itself.

The congregation’s archive of photographs, many of which will be on display during the anniversary, portray a small group dedicated to raising the church as houses arose around it.

Ms Mackenzie said the roots of families still in the area are inextricably tied to the church, as those who built it were some of the first people to settle in the area.

“It was the first church in Thornlie,” she said.

“Basically it was a small contingent around pastor Frank Holland, and his wife Bev.

“They came from the Eastern States, and basically saw the need for a church and a community centre in the area.

“There wasn’t much here, so Frank and Bev just decided to have the service in their house.

“There wasn’t much room, but they managed to get everyone in.”

Thornlie Baptist Church’s 50th Anniversary will be held on Sunday October 21 from 2.30pm, followed by an afternoon tea.

The church is located on Wynard Way, Thornlie.