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our History

A HUNDRED  NOT OUT : ST MARK’S 1909-2016
Researched and written by Revd Kevern Rapkin
Historical images courtesy of Local Studies
Bassendean Memorial Library

A PARISH IN A NEW SUBURB 1909 – 1935
In the first years of the 20th century the town of Guildford grew greatly in population in its western district and it became known as West Guildford. On 13 June 1909 the rector of Guildford opened a mission hall called St. Mark’s in what is now Lord St. and weekly services were held there. On Friday morning, 26 February, 1915 St. Mark’s mission hall was blown down in an exceptionally severe storm. The men of the congregation re-erected the hall on a site obtained in Wilson St. in the heart of the village and full of faith they built next to it the brick chancel or sanctuary area of the present church. At this time and for the next century St. Mark’s was blessed with a strong choir and Mothers’ Union. Over 100 attended the Sunday School. A Girls ‘Friendly Society was started in 1920.


In 1923 the congregation under the guidance and management of the Revd. W.K. Elphick built a rectory next to the church and the archbishop recognized the congregation as the separate parish of St. Mark’s, Bassendean. The following year the Revd. A.W.B. Everitt was appointed rector. He worked very hard in a large, but quite poor parish and regularly gave back a third of his stipend to the parish. His death in July, 1935 was a great shock and loss to the parish.


A PARISH IN WAR AND PEACE 1935 – 1960

At the end of 1935 The Revd. Walter Kirby became the rector. On 12 December, 1937 over 350 people assembled to celebrate the consecration of the brick nave of St. Mark’s. A hundred children continued to attend the Sunday School, the Mothers ‘Union maintained its outreach and the choir was strong. The war however curtailed many activities and St. Mark’s mourned the death of six parishioners in the fighting. In 1943 The Revd. Eric Currie succeeded the Revd. Walter Kirby as rector. He worked hard and would, for instance, take six services on Easter Day, but found it a difficult period with real financial problems in the parish. He conducted a number of postwar weddings including in October 1945 that of Dorothea [‘Dorrie’] and Garry Drinkwater, a returned serviceman. Parishioners included Mr. Nadebaum, who served as Headmaster of Bassendean Primary School and Mr. J.H. Smallman, who served in local government and made much of the furniture of St. Mark’s.


In 1947 the Revd. E. Currie left and The Revd. F.E. Eccleston was appointed rector and was described as”a most exciting and stimulating priest”. In two and a half very lively years he revived the parish magazine, re-commenced two youth fellowship groups and founded a branch of the Church of England Boys’ Society, CEBS. The Anglican Youth Fellowship is remembered as ‘the most exciting and simulating activity of the church”. Sometimes youngsters would invite a friend to come and play music. One youngster who came was one Rolf Harris! A parish picnic might attract 150 people.In 1950 The Revd. J.E. Stannage was appointed as priest-in-charge. He wrote to his new congregation, ”I come to you as a very ordinary human person who will make a lot of mistakes, but whose love for his work and his people-young and old will be genuine”. He felt that he was strongly supported by the Mothers’ Union and worked hard to make the CEBS branch grow in every way. And in 1953 CEGS, the Church of England Girls’ Society was formed. Soon many were being confirmed and large numbers were attending services especially at Easter. Two parishioners, Ted Doncaster and Kevin Hall left the parish to train for the priesthood and in due course were ordained.


There was a ”baby boom” resulting in 300 being baptized in five years and a new register had to be bought! Up until now the Ladies’ Guild had been the parish’s main fund raiser, but a successful Stewardship programme held in 1957 raised peoples’ direct giving very considerably. This now meant that St. Mark’s was able to build a hall with a main room 60 feet by 30 feet and a large stage and a kitchen. It was opened on Sunday, 19 July 1959 in the presence of 400 people. By 1959 the rector was providing through a number of teachers religious education to over 500 Anglican students in three schools in Bassendean.

A PARISH WITH MANY PEOPLE, LITTLE MONEY 1960 – 1978
The Revd. Stannage retired in April 1960 at the age of 73. His successor, the Revd. A.G. Thomas inherited a busy church with a large congregation of just over 200 and a Sunday School in excess of a hundred. It had three Sunday services and to this busy schedule the new rector added services once a month at Eden Hill and Ashfield. Marion Arundel, a St. Mark’s parishioner gives an eye witness account of this period,

”It was pleasing to see the CEGS and CEBS Parade in uniform; they filled half the church. We were very happy when our daughter, Marilyn and Roger Wright were married in St. Mark’s in 1974.”


But quite unexpectedly after only two and a half years the Revd. A.Thomas announced that he was leaving to return to Wales. It was during this period that the Drama Club at St. Mark’s flourished. In a period of just five years the club put on 18 plays, of which 14 were comedies. An evening performance might have a very full cast of thirty-one actors plus extras and back stage crew. Mrs. Drinkwater remarked,
”The club gave so much pleasure to the members and audiences. The pantomime’s last rehearsal night was wonderful, when hundreds of orphanage children were invited.”

But quite unexpectedly after only two and a half years the Revd. A.Thomas announced that he was leaving to return to Wales. It was during this period that the Drama Club at St. Mark’s flourished. In a period of just five years the club put on 18 plays, of which 14 were comedies. An evening performance might have a very full cast of thirty-one actors plus extras and back stage crew. Mrs. Drinkwater remarked,
”The club gave so much pleasure to the members and audiences. The pantomime’s last rehearsal night was wonderful, when hundreds of orphanage children were invited.”

In May 1963 the Revd. Ron Edwards was instituted as rector. He took over a struggling congregation with financial difficulties. He proceeded to hold another successful stewardship programme. He launched two new projects. Firstly he produced a parish magazine and the Anglican distribution list grew from 400 to 554 names, whilst another 150 copies were printed for the Methodists to deliver in an interesting inter-church venture. Secondly he also suggested that the Ladies’ Guild might like to use the old hall as a ”Benefit Shop”. Betty Till, a member of St. Mark’s commented,
”He called it thus, as it would benefit those who had too many goods and those who were glad to buy them at a much reduced price and also people who would come in for a chat.”On an average Sunday, some 209 people came to church. The Sunday School contained 140 children taught by 14 teachers, whilst during the week 19 members of St. Mark’s taught around 835 children in local schools.

Mr. Newman ended his ministry at St. Mark’s on Christmas Day 1966. He faced difficult financial times. He also had a bad back and twice in nine months in 1970 and 1971 was ill in hospital. Sadly he suffered continuously from back pain during his four and a half years at St. Mark’s and eventually felt obliged to resign. Mrs. Drinkwater remarked,
”Doug Newman was a very gentle man, who did not enjoy good health, but never complained. He had a delightful family whose three children joined in all the activities for young children.”

In December 1971 the Revd. Stuart Good was commissioned as rector. Lockridge became a separate parish at this time and St. Mark’s gave the congregation their very generous support in their early years. In September 1973 St. Mark’s held another very successful stewardship programme. The Revd. Stuart Good introduced modern services. With his outstanding musical ability and fine singing voice he pioneered folk masses. He encouraged a very strong choir of adults and children. He sums up his time at St. Mark’s,
‘The two branches of the Mothers’ Union were active and the backbone of the parish. The annual parish outing was a great event, one of the greatest being the barbecue at Mundaring to which we travelled in a hired train. The St. Mark’s community was energetic and strongly supportive of their rector. It would have been hard to be a bad priest.”


A PARISH BATTLES IT OUT 1978 – 1999
In November 1978 the Revd. Good left St. Mark’s and was succeeded five months later by the Revd. Idris Jones. In the early 1980s young people were very active at St. Mark’s. In the middle of 1980 girls were invited to become servers and the Revd. Jones could tell the 1980 A.G.M. Of ” the enthusiastic attendance of servers, male or female, Sunday by Sunday many of them newly recruited, but all fully committed to their duties of assisting in the Sanctuary.”

Sadly not long after the CEBS and CEGS branches closed. However St. Mark’s faced a continuing financial deficit, until a successful stewardship programme was held in 1989. But in 1985 the Bassendean branch of the Mothers’ Union celebrated its 70th anniversary and a few years later they started St. Mark’s Out Of School Activity and were soon using the parish hall to care for up to 18 children from 3 to 6p.m. In 1986 the parish bought a much better rectory than the one next to St. Mark’s. It was in Ireland Way in Eden Hill. The Revd. Idris Jones was responsible for refurbishing the interior of the church and was pleased to receive the gift of four stained glass windows in the churchThe Revd. Idris Jones retired in October 1991. Whilst St. Mark’s awaited the appointment of his successor, the congregation very successfully carried out a complicated rewiring and extra lighting system in the hall. They also raised a great deal of money in a short time! The Pew News remarked,
”For a battling parish, it is a battle won.”Shortly afterwards the Revd. Ray Colyer was commissioned as rector. He later wrote about his approach to pastoral care and worship,
”Pastoral care was a major activity. In the early 80s there was high unemployment for unskilled people and young people in the district. A food pantry of non perishable food was collected and food vouchers made available. One of our big projects was to settle two refugee families in Bassendean. I regularly visited elderly care homes. I also had a regular round of Home Communions. I developed a form of liturgy with many of the congregation involved in the presentation of worship.”

The After School Care averaged an attendance about 30 children, until in 1994 St. Mark’s decided that they had done great pioneering work and needed to hand it over to the Town of Bassendean as a viable business. At the 1996 A.G.M. the Revd. R. Colyer reminded ‘parishioners of the importance of the Benefit Shop, not only financially, but as a service to the community of Bassendean providing good quality, low cost clothing to particularly needy socio-economic groups.” Mary Lindsay was appointed as manager and the profits rose 75% in a single year.

On the first year of the national ‘Sorry Day’ the Revd. Ray Colyer organised a Prayer Meeting for Reconciliation at St. Mark’s. A noted Aboriginal leader spoke of the suffering of his people and the needs for land rights and to be let free to be their own people. When the parish had the challenge of rebuilding St. Mark’s retaining wall facing Wilson St. the congregation worked with a big team of Community Work Order men. In January 1999 the Revd. Ray Colyer announced his imminent retirement saying, ”I leave just a few weeks short of 7 years at St. Mark’s with many happy memories of personal association and significant events.”


NEW WAYS OF BEING CHURCH 1999 – 2012
In July 1999 the Revd. Barry Moss came to work as a probationary priest at St. Mark’s. He developed a ”Vision Programme” in which the whole community gathered to put together their understanding of themselves as a faith community. This culminated in a planned giving programme, a Commitment Dinner and Sunday worship to offer this to God. Next the Revd. B.Moss led the way in developing a community garden on undeveloped land on the south side of St. Mark’s. He also involved the children in very creative monthly family services. He and the rector of Guildford set up a combined young people’s ministry called ‘Kids +”, which meant Kids plus Jesus. Their best known activity was when in 2001they painted a Christmas mural on the wall of the Benefit Shop. St. Mark’s also rearranged the seating to create a church in the round. In 2003 the parish took on a theological student, Karen Urquart, for twelve months as part of her ordination training.
But by 2004 the Revd. Barry Moss had become convinced that St. Mark’s could not, for much longer, raise the money to pay him as a full time rector. He worked part-time for six months and finding this unworkable resigned at the end of 2005 to work full- time as a chaplain at John Septimus Roe Anglican School.

From this time onwards St. Mark’s would be led by a half time priest in charge. In February 2006 the Revd. Tessa Milne took up this role. She was one of the first group of women priests to be ordained in Australia. In March 2006 Murray Smallman, the parish organist and a lifelong member of St. Mark’s announced that in a short space of time the church had raised $2,481 for St. Mark’s Piano Restoration Fund. He had also been involved with John Rowland in an adult education programme called Nooma. Further from 2006 to 2009 he chaired the St. Mark’s History Committee. It worked hard to find and maintain the parish’s excellent records of its history. These formed the backbone for the writing and publishing of ”Persistence In Faith A History of St. Mark’s Anglican Church, Bassendean 1909-2009”. The Archbishop launched the book at a parish celebration in July, 2009.

In Advent 2006 the Revd. T. Milne went to great trouble to organise a retreat at All Saints Henley Brook and made creative use of the historic church, the river and countryside. She also started a ”Companions in Christ” with fourteen people taking part. Its course was a way people could deepen their prayer and faith life, learn to keep a prayer journal and connect with Scripture.

But the Revd. Tess Milne came to the conclusion that she was unable to manage both her ministry at St. Mark’s and her other work of private practice of spiritual direction and she sadly resigned in July 2007. Soon afterwards the Revd. Dr. Georgina Hawley began working as a locum priest at St. Mark’s and in May 2008 was commissioned as rector of the parishes of Bassendean and Lockridge with her husband the Revd. Bill Hawley working part time as her assistant in the two parishes. She invited the Archbishop to give certificates of appreciation and prayer beads to 14 members of the congregation for all the hard work they had given to the church over the years.

The annual report for 2008 AG.M. Showed a lot of energy and bustle in the church. As the Churchwardens noted,
”This year has seen a need for more capital expenditure Major Purchases: Photocopier, Laptop computer & printer, New sound system for Church, Screen, Electrical Upgrade to Church and Hall, Split Level Air conditioner [for the church offices].

Towards the end of 2009 the Revds. Georgina and Bill Hawley resigned and the Revd. Peter Dunk served for several months as the locum priest. Early in 2010 the Revd. Karen Urquart, who during her ordination training had worked in St. Mark’s returned to the parish as its half-time priest-in-charge. She resigned at the end of that year. A retired priest, the Revd. Harry Wheeler, then served as locum priest for a period of seventeen months. From time to time two retired priests, the Revds. Peter Mills and Kevern Rapkin, also took services. Then on Friday, 22 June 2012 the Revd. Alison Gilchrist, freshly arrived from the UK, was commissioned as half-time priest-in-charge of St. Mark’s, a position she combined with a new role for the Diocese of Perth, as Evangelism Enabler. In July 2016 Alison left St Mark’s to take on the Diocesan role full-time.

CONTINUING TO SEE THE FAMILY GROW
In June 2016 Dale Appleby became the locum and in October was appointed to a three year half-time role at the request of the Church Council in order to assist St Mark’s grow to the stage when it can support itself and  minister more effectively to its community. So at present we are praying and planning and proclaiming in order to see many others won to Christ.



THE MISSION

BUILDING A CHURCH
COMMUNITY

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PEOPLE IN THE SERVICE

Hide yourself in God, so when a man wants to find you he will have to go there first.

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Church Quote

"Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin will entice a man to cease from prayer.”

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