No. 632 - Devonport - Oldaker Christian Church

As Tasmania’s third largest city, Devonport has been well served by a diversity of denominations with 25 churches built in the the town since it was established in the 1850’s. Of these,14 churches still operate; several being recently established.

The Oldaker Christian Church has the appearance of a modern and newly established church but in fact its roots go back to Devonport’s old Chr
istian Brethren Gospel Hall built in 1903. This building is still in existence and is located on Fenton Street. [see No. 210]

The Gospel Hall was used by the Brethren until 1954 when the building was sold to the Devonport Country Women’s Association. Later it was used as a Girl Guide hall and it currently houses ‘Hope at St Paul’s Kitchen’. In 1955 the Christian Brethren opened a new church in Oldaker Street; the Oldaker Christian Church.

The church is a member of the Christian Community Churches of Australia, a network of Open Brethren churches, or ‘assemblies’, forming a network of like-minded autonomous local churches.

The Christian Brethren, originated in Great Britain in the 1820s. By the mid 19th century the movement had spread to Australia, with the first revival meetings held in Tasmania in 1869. As a result, fellowships were formed in Hobart, Launceston, the Huon Valley, Smithton, Sheffield, Wynyard, Burnie and Scottsdale by the end of the 1870s. The Brethren placed an emphasis on weekly communion, the baptism of believers by immersion, and evangelism. The Christian Brethren should not be confused with the 'Exclusive Brethren’, a restrictive group which broke away in 1848.

In Tasmania, most Brethren churches are 'open', unlike the 'exclusive' Brethren who avoid contact with outsiders to the religion. The 'open' Brethren are evangelists and carry-out community work, including overseas missions. In 2017 the church underwent extensive renovations and changed its name from the Oldaker Street Christian Centre to the Oldaker Christian Church. 

* All photographs are my own unless stated otherwise.

The church as it appeared before it was renovated in 2017 (Google Street View)

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