The Victorian Baptist Historical Society (VBHS) – Who we are, What we do and Why we do it

2nd December 2019

The Victorian Baptist Historical Society (VBHS) had its first public meeting in November 1987.  The Society was set up to ensure that our past is not forgotten and that we recall people’s responses to God’s calling over many years!  Membership is open to anyone with an interest in Baptist History, particularly Victorian Baptist History.  The annual membership fee which primarily covers the publication, printing and postage costs of our quarterly newsletter and annual publication “Our Yesterdays” is very modest, with special rates for couples and churches.  Our current President is Marita Munro, Treasurer and BUV archivist is John Sampson, Secretary is Richard Thwaites and journal and newsletter editor is Ken Manley. 

We meet three or four times a year and in recent times our speakers have covered a diverse range of topics, including histories of churches, biographies of prominent Victorian Baptists, and the impact on our denomination of significant local, national and international events.  Over recent years we have also run coach trips to the central Victorian Goldfields and Geelong, to visit Baptist churches of historical significance, and in September 2020 plan to run a trip to Castlemaine and Bendigo to visit Baptist churches there.

A new initiative of the VBJHS this year is an essay competition.  Details have been published in recent BUV bulletins, but can also be obtained from the Secretary at Richard.thwaites@bigpond.com

Our well attended meeting in November featured a presentation by Dr Ros Gooden, who reflected on her lifetime of service and mission.  Here is a brief precis of her presentation:

“Glancing Backwards: One thing led to another” by DR ROS GOODEN

Dr Ros GoodenRos provided the audience with background notes to her presentation and it is planned to include her talk in the next edition of “Our Yesterdays” which will be made available to VBHS members in 2020.  She noted that many of her ancestors had been missionaries, and she felt mission was in her DNA.  She initially did a science degree and taught just one year in a school before focusing on adult education.  Her first missionary journey was to East Pakistan in 1965 but within a few months was evacuated to Singapore due to the war.  She spoke about the ongoing political situation in Pakistan, the establishment of Bangladesh as a separate country, and the challenges of life on the mission field as a single woman.  She talked about her experiences as a language teacher and consultant, and ongoing theological education.  She noted how God had opened new opportunities throughout her life, and how mission itself had changed over the years.  She reflected on her time with the (then) ABMS in Melbourne and especially thanked Ken Manley and Whitley College for the help she had received.  She challenged the audience in two areas.  She challenged the VBHS to establish an index of significant Baptist Women who had played prominent roles in the life of the church, denomination and in society in general, and to explore what Baptists had learned from Bengalis, not just vice versa.  She also noted the next International Conference on Baptist Studies (ICOBS) to be held at North Greenville University in Tigerville, South Carolina on 21-24 July 2021 when the theme would be Baptists and Gender.

Our next meeting will be our AGM, planned for Saturday March 14th 2020, at 11-00 am, when the Annual GeoffreyBlackburn Memorial Lecture will be given jointly by Rev Drs Gary Heard and Geoff Pound, who will talk about the history of the Eighth Day Church in West Melbourne.  Remember, everyone is welcome to attend!