Our History

In 1929 an Ashburton Baptist fellowship began with 20 people. The story continued in 1934 when a timber church was constructed in Marquis Street and the fellowship constituted as a church proper.

The church grew with the rapid expansion of the Ashburton / Glen Iris area in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s and a new brick sanctuary was opened in 1959. The impetus of the new building and visionary leadership promoted an exciting period of growth during the 1960s which included vibrant preaching, a large, vital youth group, all-age Christian education and a community care program.

In the 1970s the church developed interests in counselling services, small groups, a youth coffee house and an active letterbox-drop program covering over 6000 homes throughout the district. The church also sent out a number of members for missionary service and supported others wishing to train for and enter the Christian ministry. The church community continued to grow through the 1980s, with the development of dual Sunday morning church services and the establishment of a house for rural and regional tertiary students moving to Melbourne to study.

In 1985, the church community was proud to support the appointment of one of its members, Winsome Abbott, as the first woman President of the Baptist Union of Victoria. The church has also actively supported the ordination of women and their participation in leadership. Our first female pastor was Rev. Jill Manton who was ordained from Ashburton Baptist in 1992.

In 1991 the church's constitution was amended to include membership by profession of faith based upon significance of baptism and confirmation in other Christian traditions.

In 1993 the Church established The WellSpring Spirituality Centre, an ecumenical ministry that has achieved international reputation. In the 1990s, the residence at 11A Marquis Street was purchased and extended, becoming Elsie Salter House, a day care centre for people with dementia. Around the same time, Thurman House was established at 6 Y Street as a job training and placement service, later becoming an agency of Baptist Community Care.

In 1996 a building program increased seating in the sanctuary, created staff offices and purpose-designed facilities for WellSpring and connected the sanctuary to the community centre with a new foyer and church café. These mid-1990s building works reflect the vision and energy of many people, including Rev. Peter Walker, Senior Pastor from 1984 to 1995.

During the 1990s the church supported Indigenous leadership training at Bimbadeen College, Cootamundra, and began its commitment to supporting people seeking asylum in Australia. In 2017 this became the House of Hope program; in partnership with Baptcare, the church provides housing and other support to people seeking asylum. 

The church is preparing to celebrate its 90th Anniversary on 26 October 2024.