Young Adults in Country Kitchens
Can Any Good Come From Church Around a Country Kitchen Table?
By Laurie Rowston
It was once asked, "Can any good come out of Nazareth?" (John 1:46) and we know the answer to that!
One hundred and twenty years ago it could have been asked, "Can any good come out church of services in a country farm house, where a large bread trough is used as a pulpit, and the congregation is crowded into a single room?" The answer there is also a resounding, "Yes!"
The country farmhouse was that of Creekton backing onto Brumby's Creek about 11 km from Cressy, under the shadow of the Great Western Tiers. It was one of the estates of William Gibson, whose family contributed funds to the building of most of our Tabernacles. The manager of the farm was Mr. C. Walsh, who lived at Creekton with his family.
A tribute to the enduring quality of the work at Creekton is found in the fact that one of Mr. Walsh's sons, Ernest, became a Baptist pastor; as did another young man, Albert Butler, son of one of Perth Baptist's deacons.
Both young men found Christ in that kitchen about the same time. And both became Tasmanian Baptist Home Missioners. Ernest at the age of 23. And Albert who attended Hobart University, at the age of 22.
Photo credit: realestate.com.au
Ernest Walsh - influence from state to state
Ernest began as Assistant Pastor at Sheffield, and then continued in the Wynyard-Yolla district before the outbreak of WWI. He became an Army Chaplain.
After the War, he commenced at the Longford Tabernacle in 1920, then moved to Victoria to attend the Baptist College from 1923-1924. Subsequently he held the pastorate at Smithton. Then, for the rest of his life, he pastored a number of Baptist churches in South Australia.
Albert Butler - an outstanding young man
Albert also served as a Chaplain during WWI. He went on to fulfil his ministry in Tasmania at Bracknell, Longford, Yolla, Wynyard, Ulverstone, Deloraine and Moonah.
He also held pastorates in New South Wales, and Queensland, and filled the office of the President of the Baptist Union in all three States. He was highly supportive of Foreign Missions, and served on the Foreign Mission Committees of those States. Years later he visited the Foreign Mission field in India to make personal contact with the mission stations.
Finally, he ministered at the Brisbane City Tabernacle for 14 years, and was regarded as an outstanding preacher. His voice was eventually heard frequently over the national radio network in devotional services, not only on Sundays, but also during the week.
That still small voice
Sometimes we might ask if anything good might come out of regular gatherings we are involved in where there is prayer, praise, Bible study and proclamation.
Butler and Walsh's lives tell us this is so, no matter how marginalized our meetings may appear to be. For some, those weekly services around the kitchen table at Creekton, as ours, might be seen as insignificant. But as Christmas approaches, let's remember that the universal God is sometimes revealed through mundane circumstances.
There at Creekton there were experiences of faith, a miracle in itself, although rarely tangible and rarely overpowering. Even so, a faith that made sense of Walsh and Butler's experiences. A faith which would lead these two into a deeper and deeper commitment, which proved lifelong for both.
At Creekton these two encountered the Gospel, heard the small voice within, and reacted to it with trust rather than denial. God knew all that had gone in to shaping them. He knew the influences in their lives, good and bad, their successes and failures, their joys and sorrows. And He wanted them.
Likewise, God sees in us people with unique gifts, enabling us to serve in very special ways. God didn't want these two to be perfect, but to be open to the Spirit and be willing to follow. In doing so, they gained an ever-widening understanding of the family of God.
They did and so can we. What they participated in at Creekton continues to be the task of the church even today. And what happened at Creekton also prompts us to encourage our young adults. We should never underestimate God's ability to make an impact around your kitchen table!
Tasmanian Baptists Historian