by Karen Watkins
On Sunday 22nd October 2017, Grays Point Community Church (a campus of Gymea Baptist Church) ceased its Sunday Services by holding a Thanksgiving Service after 68 years of local ministry. Located in a small peninsula suburb in the Sutherland Shire, current and former congregation members came together to celebrate and give thanks for the work that God had done in and through their community.
The inception of the church was in 1949 when, in an area that was young and largely under-developed, the President of the Progress Association wanted to start a Sunday School for his children. A small community of believers from various denominations approached Sutherland Baptist Church for support, and a Sunday School began in the lounge room of Mary Bracks’ parent’s house. Mary Brack would later become one of the founding members and matriarch of the church.
In 1955, Church services began in the old Community Hall, and Sutherland Baptist Church appointed Bert Davidson as the pastor. When Bert left in 1959, he approached Gymea Baptist Church to take over, and the congregation became a branch of Gymea Baptist Church.
Housing development increased, and the suburb’s population grew in the 1960’s; and so too did the congregation. With sufficient numbers to do so, the congregation become a Baptist Church in its own right, holding a Formation Service on Sunday 26th June 1966. Pastors from Gymea, Sutherland, Caringbah and Cronulla Baptist Churches were involved in the ceremony.
The Sunday School was the central ministry of the church, and by 1976 the Sunday School had grown to approximately 80 children. During the 1970s, 80s and 90s, the church was a training ground for student pastors. Of these, Angelo Giovas, who spoke at the recent Thanksgiving Service, was the longest-serving pastor, staying on as an ordained minister after completing his studies. Angelo was at Grays Point for ten years from 1979 to 1989.
By the 2000s, culture within society had begun to shift, and the church was experiencing a decline. In 2011, the church officially amalgamated with Gymea Baptist Church with a vision for revitalisation. A tremendous effort was put in by the congregation, with significant personnel and resource support from Gymea, under the leadership of Student Pastor Drew Harrison from 2011 to 2016, and then Student Pastor Brett Robinson from 2016.
In 2017, the leadership at Gymea recognised that a new approach was required for effective evangelism and mission within the community. To do something new, effectively, the church needed to stop doing something old.
While there has not been a Sunday School for some years, and Sunday Services at Grays Point will no longer continue, Gymea Baptist Church remains committed to sharing and expressing the good news of Jesus with the Grays Point community. Children’s ministry has always been part of the DNA of this church, and Gymea Baptist Church are happy to report that Playtime will continue in the Grays Point Church hall and Kids Hope will continue at Grays Point Public School. A Carols event that is planned for December at Grays Point Oval will also continue as planned, which will incorporate the Grays Point Public School band, the local Scouts and Volunteer Bushfire Brigade. Gymea Baptist Church is prayerfully considering other ways the Holy Spirit is calling his people to lovingly and faithfully reach this community.