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History

Katoomba Baptist Church has a rather storied history – one that reaches back to beyond the time of Australia’s Federation

As history tells, the Baptists in nineteenth-century New South Wales resisted any form of financial assistance from the State, lest their integrity be compromised. The Baptists, therefore, had to expand by their own efforts and pockets, despite not being a wealthy denomination. You see, most Baptists were lower Middle-Class people. They were small farmers, they were shopkeepers, they were tradesmen, they were skilled workers, and so on. They were, on the whole, not wealthy people – although they did not all come from the unskilled labouring group in the population. They did not have much money, yet all the money they possessed went toward the business of building Churches, developing a distinctive and independent life, and supporting their ministers and those in need.

As a result, the Baptists did not really expand significantly in the nineteenth century in New South Wales. The ministry of the Bathurst Street Church in Sydney extended to only a few struggling Baptist congregations within the Colony. In the West, the Bathurst congregation was established in 1862, and the Orange congregation in 1869. Then, in 1886, the first Baptist meeting in the Blue Mountains was held at a cottage in Blackheath, after which a small mission hall was built in 1888. It is out of these first Baptist meetings that the Katoomba Baptists went on to organise themselves in 1916.

Under the leadership of a local Baptist, Mr. J.A. Packer, who was also the President of the Baptist Union in NSW, and a generous donor, Mrs. W. Buckingham, the Katoomba congregation was formed; the Foundation Stone of the church was laid in Waratah Street on the 2nd October, 1916. Built in the Federation Gothic style, the Katoomba Baptist Church was formally opened on New Year’s Day, 1917. There was a public tea held afterwards in the Salvation Army Hall that was attended by one-hundred and twenty people, including a number of local ministers from various denominations. Consequently, it has been recognised as one of the oldest Churches in the greater Blue Mountains region.

To this day, Katoomba Baptist Church continues to loyally serve Christ and His Kingdom. Having remained faithful to its historic, Reformed foundations, it joyfully anticipates all of its future ministry and service to God, and to the people of the Blue Mountains. If anything can be said of Katoomba Baptist Church, it is this: its essential purpose always has been – and always shall be – to magnify the LORD, and to exalt His name together.