160 Years of KBC (Pt. 2)

Karana and the Res

When the Rev Arthur Wilkins came to Kew in 1953 it was a large church of around 400 and blessed with strong leaders. These included the Rev J H Newnham, Dr F W Boreham and Rev J H Kitchen. Newnham had been pastor of the church from 1926-1941 and Boreham from 1941-1944 and both had retained their membership at Kew. Newnham left to be the Superintendent of the Home Mission Department of the BUV. Dr F W Boreham was a world famous Baptist writer. In addition the Rev J H Kitchen had retired from the China Inland Mission in 1951 and he also lived here, providing a home for the children of missionaries.

This strength was seen in the 1956 Centenary celebrations where the Rev Oscar Johnson of St Louis preached and Dr E (Pearly) Gates the song leader from Mississippi attracted large crowds.

The church marked the centenary first by renovating the Cotham Rd church then building Karana, a nursing home in Walpole St on properties bequeathed by Miss Ruth Wilkin to the BUV. Karana was initially managed by a committee made up of equal numbers of representatives of Kew Baptist and the BUV but over the years it has been extended and redeveloped so that it is now a very large complex managed by Baptcare. The church supports it through regular visits and the supply of preachers for Sunday services.

The other major development was that of a Youth Hostel. This was based on the radical concept of a co-ed residential institution for youth. It began in Moore Potter House in Canterbury Rd when the Baptist Training Institute for training deaconesses and missionaries closed. The Hostel initially catered for paid workers and students but the two groups proved incompatible so it now only accepts students.

It was moved to Mary St in 1965 so that it could be near the church and have strong links to it. Consequently it has been a major influence in attracting young leaders to the church and shaping the form of the evening service. It is now known as ‘the Res’ and is a very significant part of the church’s outreach to the community. Most students come from the towns and farms of country Victoria to start a tertiary education in the city. Our challenge now is to provide good facilities for these ministries.

John Sampson

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