How we came to be – Snippets from Armidale’s past, presented by David Betts

Evangelist Thomas Llewellyn and his pack horses

The Baptist Fellowship in Armidale in 1881

Although Armidale had by far the largest number of residents of any community in New England, the formation of a church in Armidale was to prove an on-going struggle that would continue over the next thirty years.
However, Llewellyn saw the need for a Baptist Church in Armidale and informed the Annual Baptist Assembly in Sydney that there was a prospect of erecting a Baptist church building on a site that could be purchased cheaply. The meeting responded by giving Llewellyn authority to collect money to build a church at Armidale.

By September 1881 an acre of land, on the corner of Brown and Allingham Streets, was given to Thomas Llewellyn by James Tysoe, and a primitive wooden building was erected thereon. At that time this land was located in a semi-rural area on the south - western edge of Armidale, some distance from the centre of Armidale where the other churches of that time were situated. The building was substantially of hardwood, partially lined with pine, with an iron roof.

An advertisement in the Armidale Express [26 May 1882] indicated that the church had been built prior to this date:

Baptist Church Armidale, Divine Service next Sunday May 28th. Services will begin at the hours of 11am, 2.30pm & 7pm. All friends are kindly invited to attend. Preacher: Rev FR Becher BA, Fellow of Trinity College Cambridge.

Becher was, at that time, Pastor of Grafton Baptist Church.

Another advertisement in the local newspaper announced that ‘Rev Becher would conduct a lecture on Monday night on “Free churches – a need for our time”.  Admission one shilling each.’’