|The Spreydon district at this time consisted of swamp and tussock paddocks without water supply, sewers, drains, electricity or transport. It was a quagmire in winter and a dust bowl in summer. But Thomas had a vision to start a church in the area so he approached Charlotte Twigger, a local farmer’s wife who said he could have the use of a 16 x 12 foot sod house standing in a 50 acre tussock paddock. So he began a milk run to raise money for the new work and on September 17 1865, the first service was held in the sod house which apparently was filled with men, women and children. A year later a church was formed with six initial members. The group decided to build a chapel, and this was opened debt free in April 1867. Two years later, William Pole was invited to be the first pastor with a guaranteed income of £1 for three months! The church continued to grow and ten years later a larger building was needed which was opened on Lincoln Road in November 1882. The building, which seated about 300 people, still stands as a grocery store. In 1895, John North became the pastor and this was followed by a period of rapid growth and the starting of various initiatives in the community. Unfortunately this growth of the early years was not able to be sustained in the decades that followed, apart from one encouraging period in the 1930’s. During that decade the Spreydon suburb was
growing rapidly and the Mayor of Christchurch, J K Archer, who was also pastor of the Colombo Street Baptist church, decided there was a need for an outreach Sunday school in Lyttelton Street which started in 1933 and developed into a church five years later.It became obvious that it would make sense to unite the two small churches at a central location. This was literally carried out by transporting buildings from both locations by traction engine and the first services at the present location were held in October 1949.Murray and Marj Robertson began their ministry at Spreydon nearly twenty years later in December 1968. In the decades which followed, the church continued the evangelistic vision and community involvement that marked the early years.During the 1970’s, a foundation was laid of Biblical preaching, neighbourhood evangelism and a growing commitment to global mission. The charismatic renewal followed with the challenge of incorporating this emphasis into a traditional church.In the mid 70’s, the church was completely restructured around small groups. Very rapid growth followed and a new building, the present auditorium, was constructed.In the 1980’s, a number of daughter congregations were started, some of which became independent churches. This decade also saw the birth of a number of community ministries which have subsequently grown remarkably.Another new building was erected during the 1990’s, this time a multi purpose building reflecting the growth in mid-week community ministries. Some of the smaller daughter congregations returned to the mother church and more seeker-friendly services began on Sunday nights.
In the 2000’s, a multi-service approach developed, with six services, including
one on Tuesday nights. By 2006 over 1,700 people were attending these services
most weeks and more than 3,000 were involved in community ministries during the week.
In December 2008, the church celebrated 40 years of Murray and Marj’s ministry at Spreydon, then in February 2009, Alan Jamieson became the new senior pastor. Alan had previously been on the pastoral staff at Spreydon in the 1980’s.
In 2010, the church invited 4 leaders to form a core leadership team with Alan, operating more as a replicative leadership team within the church than an iconic Senior Pastor model.
In 2011, the church began launching a commitment to local mission formed out of local communities of Spreydon Baptist people who lived nearby each other. This had only just begun when the city was rocked by earthquakes. Slowly, the vision for re-forming the primary relational commitment of the church around local communities has begun to take root.
The commitment to local mission in the Halswell area led to discussions with Halswell Baptist. After much prayer and many conversations over an 18 month period, the two churches merged with a combined mission priority to the local communities of South West Christchurch. There is more information about the merger under the Halswell Journey.
With a new mission focus based on local communities, the growing need in South West Christchurch post-earthquakes and the merger of the two churches a change of name seemed significant. So, with an overwhelming vote at the 2013 AGM the church name became South West Baptist Church.