Valley Church of Christ
On 12th December 1929 six people (3 women 3 men) from the Church of Christ Bassendean signed a Solemn Covenant to form a Church of Christ in Midland Junction, now Midland.
The following Sunday, December 15th, 1929 the first service was held. From 1929 – 1949 the church was served by voluntary preachers, then from 1950 – 1982, 14 ministries mostly part time with the 7 year ministry of Bruce Clapp being the longest.
In ‘A Brief History of the Midland Church of Christ’ by Bette Bradley, written for the 60th Anniversary, it referred to a situation in 1982, “For the third time in its history, things looked bleak for the church; people drifted away and for the few that were left, the demise of the church looked a real possibility. It is amazing how quickly a church can go down.”
In September that year Ken Duffy accepted a part-time ministry with the church for 12 months. Of the 13 people left 6 voted to close the church 7 to keep it open. Ken was to find out a couple years later that it was anticipated that he would “conduct the funeral of Midland Church.” The funds from the sale of property would be used to fund a church in an area with more potential because “Midland is H-A-R-D area!” Ken himself was sure he would only be there for 12 months.
In the next 2 years the church grew to just over 90. A house next door to the church was purchased and converted to a Coffee Shop ministry which ran for 5 years. The plan was for a larger church to be built across the two blocks, or if sold then the two blocks would command a higher price. The Swan Shire decided our future by zoning the area “City Centre Regional Shopping”. Where the huge Midland Gate Shopping Centre now is. Discussions were held with the Aged Persons Board and Home Missions re Midland’s future but nothing eventuated, support was better given to other areas because “Midland is a HARD area!”
The two properties were sold at good price and the Church entered the Tender Process for the Former Middle Swan Primary School which it won after dramatic opposition from a local politician. 6.5 acres with a school that held over 400 for $255,000. A vision for the future was cast. Change the name to Valley Church of Christ (the site was at the start of the Swan Valley). Become Incorporated, build an octagonal church on the prime corner where thousands of vehicles passed every day. A multi-purpose hall across the quadrangle, with the existing classrooms used for a multiplicity of purposes. The other 3.5 acres used for Retirement living. At the time is was suggested that a local church becoming Incorporated could be illegal, and Retirement Villages just don’t work. Still in the back of many minds was “besides, Midland is a HARD area”. Sixteen years later with the vision being continually squelched, top secular financial consultants convinced the Valley Board that their best option was to capitalise on their property. Invest the money in AAA companies and reap great financial benefit.
No one anticipated the Global Financial Crisis. Across the nation many churches lost millions of dollars and Valley lost half it’s investment. The saving grace was that the sale of the property included a Peppercorn lease back on the property with the new owners. The new owners eventually sold out to a multi-national who last year put the property up for sale as an exciting infill development site.
Advice received from a reputable local Real Estate Agent suggested Valley could be placed in the situation of having no home. We commenced looking around for a new home but options were limited by a lack of finances. The same Real Estate Agent came back sometime later to suggest Valley might be interested in leasing a former Seventh Day Adventist Church in the heart of Midland. The lease was higher than we anticipated, plus the church facilities had been vandalised and needed considerable renovation. Was a predominantly aged congregation up to it? The church discussed and prayed about the whole situation.
What were our options? Close the Church and give up? Wait it out where we are, it might not sell for years? It all came down to “Go or Grow”? We prayed, and unanimously voted to do everything we can to grow. We reminded ourselves that our Lord called Moses, Joshua and Caleb, all in their eighties to move His people into their future.
You see, we know Midland used to be a HARD area but it’s all changed over the years. It’s become one of Perth’s most exciting development areas. It could be the place for an exciting new church if only we bury the notion that “Midland is a HARD area” and trust in our Sovereign Lord to build His Church in Midland.
That’s why Ken Duffy is still here in ministry almost 34 years later at 77 years still believing our Lord is going to do something special in Midland, and honouring the Solemn Covenant of the original six ‘saints’ from Bassendean Church of Christ.