A Short History
of Te Puke Baptist Church
Beginning in the mid-1950’s as an outstation of Tauranga Baptist, a small fellowship was developed by a young farming couple (who are now senior members of the Church) into a weekly service with a thriving Sunday School. In 1968 the property where the Church now stands was bought for $2800 and services were held in an old house with an average of 16 adults and 13 children. In 1969 the Sunday School had a roll of 67 children, there was a Saturday morning “Hobby Class” for girls, Bible Class for Teens, evangelistic training classes, neighbourhood evangelism visiting and a monthly Coffee Night for young people as a joint outreach with other Churches. A Sunday School in Manoeka was started by Evan Necklen and continued for some years.
By 1972 we felt the need for a part-time Pastor and a permanent building to replace the old house and God provided in supernatural ways for this to happen. In 1974 we were accepted as a Church at the National Baptist Assembly with 34 foundation members. In 1975 we saw the completion of a building that cost the entire sum of $8165 – much prayer and voluntary labour had gone into it! It was a basic meeting room, what serves as the Church foyer now, with a kitchen and toilet area. This was extended quickly towards Station Road forming the back part of the present auditorium. The next stage comprised more meeting area and a second floor above the west end of the auditorium with a spiral staircase. A gymnasium/youth hall was added in the 80’s, then the lounge and offices and finally the main meeting area was pushed out to its present size.
The ‘70’s had been a time of spiritual growth and rejoicing as the Spirit of God brought renewal to Churches up and down the Country. We saw a major period of growth, particularly among the Maori people, and we became known around the area as a progressive, Spirit-led Church, with people coming into the Kingdom every week. During the 80’s and early 90’s the congregation met in two services in the gymnasium to accommodate everyone.
As well as the focus on friendship evangelism in our own neighbourhood, we have always had a strong culture of global outreach with many of our membership at some stage being involved in short or long-term service overseas. In the early days, we tended to support the people we sent out rather than NZ Baptist Missionaries, but this is changing now as we adopt other workers the Lord puts on our hearts.
As we go forward as a Church, we aim to continue making a difference in the lives of people here in Te Puke and wherever else the Spirit of God takes us.