Austral Church of Christ Celebrates 90th Anniversary

07 Dec 2022

by Josh Gibbon


Across the weekend of the 22-23 October, Austral Church of Christ held its 90th anniversary celebrations.

Despite torrential rain, there was an excited buzz amongst the 150 attendees who huddled under a marquee on the premises for celebratory service on the Sunday.  

In the crowd were faces from many eras of the church’s history and a strong representation from Campbelltown Church of Christ, originally a plant by Austral, who are now considering taking Austral under their own wing.  

During the service, founding members, Anne Squillacioti and Wendy Gowans (pictured left and right respectively), shared their memories growing up among the founding families.


Wendy’s father was a printer and member of the church who printed the weekly church newsletter. Anne, whose grandfather started the church, shared her conviction that the main legacy of Austral has been spreading God’s word.


Ken Bond (pictured left), who pastored Campbelltown Church of Christ for 15 years in the mid-70s and returned to Austral as interim pastor in 2000s, spoke about the marks of this faithful community.

He said they were a warm and friendly, open-hearted group of people who wanted to reach their local community for Jesus. 

Nathan Phillips, son of Bill Phillips (both below left) who was minister at Austral from 1986-1995, remembers the church of his childhood as a community hub for a simpler time. Nathan said, “It’s been 25 years or so since we lived here for 10 years, and they were formative years of my life – growing up being part of the boys brigade, going off to family camps. Looking back at some of the photos, there was a deep connection with those people. 

“Austral was seen as a unique place as it was five-acre-lots, farmers markets, and gardens. Now there’s been such a transformation to town houses. Next door we used to have horse paddocks and sheep. We used to ride our bikes around; there wasn’t lots to do. It was simple.” 

Gail Reid, Secretary (Austral Campus), was moved by the significance of the memories shared over the weekend. She said, “We’re still so closely intertwined with the forefathers – having Ken whose father did the tent mission across the road. To look at the photos and then go and talk to him about it gives me chills!” 

A significant page in Austral’s legacy was the pioneering of Campbelltown Church of Christ in 1972, a now flourishing community. Today, facing old age and a smaller community, Austral has chosen to approach Campbelltown to consider its capacity to take Austral on as a second campus with the aim to see its community renewed.  

This ‘courting’ process between the churches began in September last year. Both churches are due to vote in the coming month on whether they will become one.  

Ryan Graham, Senior Pastor at Campbeltown Church of Christ, shared at the service about the beauty of this potential partnership – that they have an opportunity to reciprocate the mission that Austral initiated. 

After the service Ryan said, “It’s humbling. I’ve really been reflecting on what does it mean for us to invest just as much as they’ve invested into us?

So, as I hear all these stories of what this church has done and what they’ve achieved, suddenly you feel like you’re shrinking a little bit – in a good way. Under the weight of – God’s done all this work here before we walk in.” 

A special high tea drew a similar number of guests on the Saturday afternoon. 

As Austral celebrates 90 years this year, Hurstville Church of Christ celebrates 115, Kingsway Community Church in Caringbah celebrates 75, and Campbeltown Church of Christ celebrates 60. It’s a big year across our network! 


Read more stories from churches of Christ in NSW & ACT HERE