Lurline St Katoomba
For 115 years, the PBCC has had a presence in Katoomba on the upper Blue Mountains west of Sydney. They now have 5 meeting rooms, the largest taking several hundred worshippers. There is no platform – as they are organised on family lines, not a hierarchy – but dished seating rises in circles from the centre. Microphones are widely installed as the brothers all take part; the sisters enjoy selecting and calling the hymns.
But back to 1898; A Brethren family of eight moved up from Sydney because the father suffered heart/lung trouble, and purchased a guesthouse which the mother ran. They held the Lord’s Supper each Sunday in a room set aside for that purpose. The father’s first job was gas-lamp lighter; using a long taper he walked the town streets each evening turning on the lamps. Gradually a few others of this Christian community moved in, and they hired a meeting room, then moved to the School of Arts, where they also had gospel preachings, Bible readings and prayer meetings through the week.
In early 1930’s a well-off chocolate maker in Sydney whose wife was among the Brethren (himself an Anglican) used to holiday in the Blue Mountains and attend Brethren gospel preachings. He thought it a shame that this attractive and enthusiastic little gathering did not have its own church so he arranged to build a meeting hall for them! He provided the funds, an experienced Brethren bricklayer was builder and other members worked on the project. This hall, at corner of Lurline and Leichardt Streets in Katoomba, became the home base of the Brethren on the mountains.
For 70 years numbers were not great as the local economy centred round the tourist trade and jobs allowing Sundays off were hard to find. There was some increase in Brethren numbers while the western railway was electrified by British Callendar Cables about 1953-57, but on completion many moved elsewhere for employment. Then a good few more moved up in the 1970’s, their families grew, and now have a number of thriving mountain manufacturing businesses. Brethren run their own school, and have recently set up a Rapid Relief Team, in cooperation with NSW fire brigades, equipped for mobile catering etc.
So 115 years on, and still prospering within the Blue Mountains World Heritage National Park – based on family privilege and responsibility, with special care of aged and young… and all between! This Christian community moves on and eagerly watches out for the next big event on the Christian calendar, the second coming of Christ.