Coming in early June
With a pioneering history spanning more than 50 years, Hope City Church has grown from a small Sunday school outreach to a globally effective church fulfilling the vision of its name from two campuses in Brisbane and Toowoomba.
This is Hope’s story.
In 1958 a young couple, Bill (Vilamos) and Eva Mado (originally from Hungary), were assigned by the Commonwealth Bible College (CBC) to begin a Sunday school outreach in what was then outer Brisbane. With the name Sunshine Bible Club children of the suburb Oxford Park sang gospel songs and heard Bible stories in a local playground. Soon after, permission was granted to hold the Sunday afternoon classes under the buildings of Grovely State Primary School. From 1958 to 1965 many CBC students gave their Sunday afternoons to share the Gospel with untold numbers of children.
By 1965 the hard working CBC students were conducting an all age Sunday school, full morning and evening church services as well as Friday and Saturday evening programs for children and youth. A former Baptist church building in Rolleston Street Grovely was purchased in 1965 and the playground Bible club had become the Grovely Assemblies of God (AOG) Church.
In January 1966 Pastor Alex and Pauline Alcorn became the first pastors to the congregation. Now with mid week meetings the church had become a hub of activity in the community.
In 1968 the Enoggera AOG merged with Grovely and with the little building now “packed to the rafters” the lively song services could be heard all around the surrounding area.
With the Alcorns taking a well earned rest before moving to the Ipswich AOG, Pastor Peter and Faye Fairbanks served the congregation from 1969 to 1971 before they accepted an invitation to Ballarat AOG in Victoria. Transition years saw veteran Bible teacher and CBC lecturer Pastor Henry Wiggins followed by Pastor John Griffiths before Pastor Gary and Lorna Swenson commenced what became a 20 years oversight.
The church moved to Ferny Grove converting a former Chinese restaurant into a more modern facility with space for all church programs and staff offices. Now adjacent to the Hills District name changes were made to reflect the area served so Grovely AOG became Hillview AOG, Hills AOG and then Hills Christian Church.
Twenty years had come and gone and with the Swenson’s moving to other ministry duties, Pastor Russell and Nicky Harper previously serving as Associate and Youth Pastors in Spring Street AOG, Toowoomba became senior pastors. Their stewardship again saw growth with children’s ministry in particular expanding, along with a new ministry to the needy in the community and HillsCare was born to communicate the Gospel in practical ways – not just words.
A new transition period commenced with a merger of Hills CC and The Gap church from an adjoining suburb. In 2005 the Harpers accepted an invitation to lead the Bendigo Christian Church in Victoria with Pastors Alex and Sarah Attard moving from Toowoomba to lead Hills Christian Church. Needing again to move premises, temporary venues were used including the Arana Hills PCYC before finally entering a long term arrangement which again saw church services held at the Grovely State Primary school in their new Performing Arts Centre.
As far as location was concerned the church had come full circle but the vision of the Church entered a new and exciting phase with the purchase of an industrial site in Enoggera which was to be slowly converted to a church office, multifaceted community support programs and finally a permanent auditorium. This momentous move forward also saw a new name change in 2007 to Hope City Church to reflect the wider vision of providing true hope on a city wide not just a local community basis. In 2008 we celebrated our 50th anniversary showcasing 50 years of Hope while honouring the pioneers and workers that helped birth and sustain the church. In particular this included Pastor Harold Bartholemew who as CBC principal in those formative years ensured logistical support and continuing personal encouragement for all involved.
In 2010 the Board of Impact Christian Centre, Toowoomba, approached Pastor Alex and Sarah about becoming part of Hope City Church. After much prayer and consideration, on Sunday 20th June 2010, Impact Christian Centre became Hope City Church, Toowoomba Campus.
The Sunshine Bible Club, commenced with faithful visitation and a cry of the heart of two young students to share the Gospel. Now it has intercity locations, modern headquarters, multiple community support facilities, a vision of empowerment for people from all walks of life, a growing ability to provide Hope across cities, across the nation and a global impact bringing the Hope Empower message to South East Asian outreaches and many areas that a young Bill and Eva Mado would never have dreamed.
In paying tribute to them and the many who have followed, it is worthy of note that it is not the one great big thing we do in life that is always the most significant but it is often the many small and faithful ways we can serve today that have a great and significant impact on someone else’s tomorrow.