In October 1912 the foundation stone was laid of what was then called the Takapuna Baptist Church on a section of land donated by Mr Rushbrook, a benefactor of a number of non-conformist charities in Auckland. In just a few short months the church, built by Mr John Ashby who had arrived into Milford from England in 1908, was opened on January 4th 1913. You will notice that it is an isolated open area with minimal vegetation.
Both events were covered by local and national newspapers as was a ‘social gathering with upwards of 100 people’ to welcome a new minister a year or so later.
The church was initially under the auspices of the Auckland Baptist Auxilliary, but in July 1921 joined the Baptist Union, having, as these advertisements from the Auckland Star Newspaper show, changed the name of the church to Milford Baptist Church probably around 1 May 1921.
Here we see the church around 1921 with the new name on the sign, and developing vegetation, and in the lower picture from 1920 with buildings starting to develop around it. (MBC is shown towards the top tight corner, just below the skylinre)
In the 1930s a hall was added at the rear of the church, and in the late 1950’s the church was extended.
You can see the extension forward of the belfry towards Dodson Avenue. The porchway was added a few years later.
The Centenary book edited by David Speary covers the history of the construction of the present building very well.
In the 1990’s under the leadership of Rev Tom Cadman the church was turned round through 90 degrees and the foyer and offices constructed along with a new hall to replace the borer-ridden edifice that it had become.
In the book, there is a comment: “Throughout all the alterations over the past 100 years the preaching of God’s word and reaching out into the community was always foremost in our minds and efforts . Buildings and facilities were only a means to assist in this endeavour.”
And of course, a church is not simply a building.
As the maori say ‘he tangata, he tangata, he tangata “it is people people people.” The church has been blessed with a number of very faithful servants over the 110 year history.
The present membership book dates from 1940. It records the foundation members (1921) and the names and dates upon which people subsequently entered into membership. It does not, of course, record the dates when people started attending the church. The earliest current member is entry number 218 Raymond Brown August 1945. Lynne Brown (nee Cryer) entered into membership in 1950 though I understand that she attended the church with her parents from a very early age.
Other current members who qualify for their over 60 year long-service badges are Beryl Thompson 1956, Phyl Briscoe 1959, Greta Alcorn 1962 and Phyl Harvey 1963.
A number of others, like the Corins were involved with the youth groups in and around the 1960s but moved away or served overseas and are not recorded as entering membership until later.
Many of the current stalwarts have only served for a mere 40 or 50 years!
Larry Robbins Jan 2023
Historic Photographs Alexander Turnbull Library and Auckland Library. Paper clippings from Paperspast (National Library)