Klemzig Assembly of God (South Australia) 1976 – 1982 (Part 1)

Perhaps before I tell you about our ministry in Australia I need to explain about my roots as a child. I was born in Adelaide to missionary parents Tom & Stella Evans and spent most of my childhood years in India.

When my father retired from missionary service he accepted the call to Pastor the Franklin Street Assembly of God in Adelaide.

As a young teenager I proudly became part of the youth group of the church which was called “Christ Ambassadors” or CAs as they were known. As the son of the minister I remember becoming very defensive at times when members of the church criticized my father.

I recall his position as the senior pastor as being very tenuous. Every year at the November annual general meeting, he would be voted upon by the members of the church as to whether he should remain as the pastor.

I sensed the apprehension he would feel and wondered why this sort of process was necessary! Thankfully in latter years the Assemblies of God churches in Australia adopted new employment policy which has done much to enable Pastors to feel more secure in their service. It took away the apprehension and fear that ministers struggled with each year.

It was in this church I grew up as a teenager which helped shape my life for future service. I observed Ps. T L Evans my father’s dedication to the cause of Christ and his absolute faithfulness to being a good shepherd.

His comitment to prayer and the study of the Word left a lasting impression upon my life.

Interestingly my  family tree has a connection with this first Pentecostal Church of Adelaide through my great uncle Rev Richard Marks who was it’s first Pastor.

My mother confirmed that Richard Marks took the over-site of the small group of Pentecostal believers and moulded it into a cohesive Church.

Prior to this the church was leaderless and had become doctrinally exclusive in practice.

It is known that Pastor Richard Marks had a particular passion for overseas Missionary work and contributed extensively to the Foreign Missions programme of the church.

Possible this interest was influenced by his grand niece Stella Evans who was the first Missionary sent out from the church to India.

Upon his death in 1933 he bequeathed a substantial amount of money from his estate to this first Pentecostal Church of Adelaide. The Franklin Street Church property was purchased in 1944 but was used only during the week for prayer meetings and special events. 

During the 1950’s when my father was pastor, we would meet every Sunday afternoon & evening for services in the Rechabite Chambers in Victoria Square which was in the centre of the city.

It was the practice in those days that before each Sunday evening service a small band of believers from the church would conduct open-air meetings in Victoria Square right in the heart of Adelaide.

Often crowds of people would gather around the Christians as they preached, sang, played their musical instruments (piano accordions) and shouted out what was called “gospel shots”, scripture verses.

It was here on the streets of Adelaide that I had my early training in Gospel Music.

The youth group in the Church was quite small in number at the time but we did want to serve God. Four of us formed ourselves into a quartet and called ourselves the “Maranatha Messengers.” Each week we would sing in the open-air meetings attracting a crowd.

We would also go down to the river Torrens in the heart of Adelaide and sing gospel songs in acapella.

On a number of occasions we were invited to sing on 5AD radio for Pastor John Hewitt of the Apostolic Church who had a regular Sunday morning broadcast.

Years later in 1990 the original quartet of Norm Milburn, Carl Mason, Fred Evans & Ian Scannell got together for a reunion and sang at the Paradise Community Church in honour of my father TL Evans who had just turned 90 years of age.

Our style of music was very different to today’s contemporary sounds of church music but never the less was very popular.

In the secular world the Four Aces and the Ink Spots popularized what was called “Barber Shop” music.

In those days there was no Television so listening to a gospel quartet or street preachers drew allot of attention & attracted some interest among casual city dwellers.

It was in these open-air meetings that I first learned to preach. I can’t say many responded except for a few old drunks who occasionally came into the service to hear the gospel and were amazingly converted.

My interest in preaching however needed some polishing, so I decided in 1958 to go to Bible College with my brother Andrew and three other young men from the church.

After graduating from Bible School in 1960 I sailed for Papua New Guinea to serve as a missionary with the Assemblies of God Papua New Guinea Mission. (see the story on page “About our Ministry in Papua New Guinea”)

In the mean time the Adelaide church continued to grow under the leadership of a number of able pastors.

In those early years prayer meetings were a common occurrence as people called on God for revival.

“Tarrying Meeting” as they were called were also regular as people prayed for the “Baptism in the Holy Spirit”.

The valuable Adelaide city property in Franklin St. was sold under the faithful stewardship of Pastor John Jobe.

John and Beryl Jobe commenced their ministry in Adelaide as Senior Pastors in 1959. Their pastoral vision was to get out into the suburbs where the people lived.

With his  astute guidance and determination the church eventually relocated to Paynham before commencing building the new Klemzig Assembly of God church on land at 274 Main North East Rd in the North Eastern suburbs.

Pastor Jobe wanted the church to be seen in the community and erected a tall tower which advertised the Church.

This was erected at the entrance to the building and became a significant landmark and icon, as thousands of people each day drove past along the Main North East road.

The decision to sell the Franklin Street property in the City became a providential and strategic decision in the great scheme of things as you will see.

After completing the building project, Pastor Jobe resigned in 1964 and Pastor Gerald Rowlands was called and became the Senior Pastor.

He was a charismatic personality and a powerful preacher with a prophetic edge.

Under his leadership the Klemzig church continued to grow. He understood the times and his ministry tapped into the wave of what God was doing at the time.

Pastor Rowlands ministered with great authority during the early days of what was called “The Charismatic Renewal” and scores of young families joined the church.

In 1970 my brother Andrew, fresh from six years of missionary service in Papua New Guinea, accepted an invitation to follow on from Pastor Rowlands.

He was invited to fill in as interim pastor for a year. This was because of the perceived lack of pastoral experience he had had in Australia.

A year later Andrew & Lorraine Evans were invited and voted upon by the church to remain indefinitely as ministers of the Klemzig Church.

Providentially they became the longest serving Pastors in the history of the Adelaide Assembly. They served as Senior Minister of the Church for over three decades,a record.

He also was appointed as the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God in Australia in 1977 and continued in that office for over two decades, (also a record) before retiring in 1997.

In 1976 Betty & I resigned from full time missionary work in Papua New Guinea and accepted a call to join the ministry team of the Klemzig Assembly of God. The Church was experiencing exciting growth during the time of the “The Charismatic Renewal” of the 1970s. I was feeling a little apprehensive at first as Betty & I had to adjust back into Australian culture and way of life.

My portfolio on the ministry team was New Christians and the follow up of new folk who joined the church.

I also shared in the Preaching and Worship leading responsibilities of the Sunday services.

They were exciting days as many people seemed to be supernaturally drawn to the church and conversions were numerous. 

I recall in particular the excitement of the evening services at Klemzig at which my brother Andrew was the Pastor/Evangelist.

People lined up at the doors (just like a boxing day sale) to rush in and get a seat near the front of the auditorium.

 It was not materialism they were after but the Spirit of God.

The manifest presence of Christ was so tangible that much blessing flowed freely in the life of the congregation and the services.

It was a time of Spiritual renewal. Repentance, Love, Joy & Exuberant Praise (Psalm 149:3) were a characteristic or feature of these revival meetings.

The pentecostal gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 14:29) were also prevalent in the service.

It was not uncommon to witness some remarkable healings that took place during the services. Dancing before the Lord  (Psalm 150:4) frequently broke out during the times of singing praise.

Freedom and a release from the fear of what people may think seemed to be a feature of spiritual liberation that was felt by the congregation.

I personally danced before the Lord publicly and experienced what I can only describe as an inward release from the fear of man. It was incredible and yet nothing seemed out of order.(1 Corinthians 14:40).


Continues on Klemzig (Part 2)…….

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