A little bit of history: “Go Ye into All the World”
The “New St Mark’s Malabar” , as we sometimes like to call it, began on the 31st July 2005, when the Asian Australian Bible Church at UNSW, and St Mark’s Anglican Church Malabar amalgamated to form a new church.
The St Mark’s church in Malabar has been in existence for over 100 years, ever since the ‘mission church’, as it was known, had its first service in the Dudley Pavilion, Ireton St, Malabar. It began as a church plant from the church in Coogee, and on the opening day of its new church building, the 12th September, 1908, the Rural Dean at the time said “Today is an object lesson, which indicates a practical fulfilment of the Saviour’s last command: ‘Go ye into all the world, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.’
It was a different world, the minister walking from Coogee to preach, or if he was lucky, fetching a ride in someone’s sulky. There were no traffic lights, no high rise unit blocks, no telephones. And yet, it was the same world- a world that our Heavenly Father had created and loved; a world where God was gathering his people to himself through the gospel; a world where God’s people sought to advance the name of Jesus. The church grew, and in 1915 they planted another church at Soldier’s Settlement, and later a church at Matraville and Yarra Bay. Down the years, the church at St Mark’s has undergone many changes. They have tried many different ways to grow and reach out into the local community- ESL classes, outreach events, men’s and women’s breakfasts, small groups, and even a resale shop at Matraville!
The Asian Australian Bible Church (AABC) began in 1995, as the Vietnamese Bible Fellowship, under the leadership of Andrew Moore. It was a Bible fellowship group that met on Sundays, firstly in the evening, and then as children were born, on Sunday mornings. Initially it met for its public meetings with one of the main congregations of St Matthias, and then in 2001 when Andrew graduated from theological college, with great excitement, it became a church with two congregations. The AABC was mostly made up of people who had migrated to Australia from different parts of Asia, wanting to set up home in Sydney. They saw themselves as having a particular mission to people from Asian background. Their services were more informal in style, meeting in a lecture theatre for church. And yet they were just as committed to the faithful exposition of Scripture and proclamation of the gospel, seeing in the gospel the power of God for salvation. God blessed their efforts with many people coming to outreach events, and some of them turning to Christ. They grew from a small Bible study group to two groups totaling about 80 people.
Under God, these two different churches joined together, like an arranged marriage. We knew very little of each other. The leaders met on a couple of occasions, and the Anglican Bishop (Rob Forsyth) and the Archdeacon (Deryck Howell) introduced us to each other. When the two churches amalgamated in 2005, we knew we were different. We expected it to be difficult. Yet we really wanted it to work and, thanks be to God, we are overjoyed and thrilled at what has happened. AABC needed a home base, and have been blessed with much more. St Marks needed a fresh injection of people and ideas, and have also been enriched in ways never imagined. We continue to change and evolve but we are more united than ever.