Standing on the threshold of history – where the past and future connect – is a humbling realisation. The opportunity to look back in reflection and to look forward in anticipation becomes a moment to pause. A moment to recognise that you are part of something much bigger than what has been orchestrated by man – symbolically putting you shoulder to shoulder with the Israelites as they stood at the edge of the Jordan – with 40 years behind them and the promised land before them.
Sunday morning, the 14th April, 2019, on the corner of Angus and Queen Streets, was that milestone moment for the members of Germiston Baptist Church.
Looking back, the faded archived photos tell of a legacy that actually began 2000 years ago when Jesus said, ‘I will build my Church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.’ But they also tell a story of faith.
The simple, but bold and persevering faith of pastors who preached from the pulpit and shepherded among the pews for 115 years in downtown Germiston, and for 73 years within the walls of the GBC building with its tall steeple. A beacon of the Gospel and a herald of grace and truth through Jesus Christ alone.
By faith, in 1903, Rev. J.B Heard started GBC in a home and in 1904 they began meeting in the Old Court House, with services often disturbed by the drunken and raucous prisoners awaiting trial.
By faith, the site on the corner of Queen Street was purchased in 1941 under the oversight of Rev. J.R Garty. With a membership of only 27, his vision was to build a building that would seat up to 500. That building was finally completed in 1946.
For the past 73 years it has been the place where sinners have found grace, where the broken-hearted have been comforted, where tears and burdens have been halved as loved ones have been buried, and where joy and laughter have been doubled as wedding vows have been pledged and babies have been born.
By faith, Pastor Roland Eskinazi, brought low with grief, conducted a baptismal service the day after his young wife was killed in a car accident in 1998.
By faith, in 2004, due to the urban degeneration and the locale becoming a no-go area, Pastor Peter Sammons realised that the GBC building would need to be sold – a seemingly impossible task. But the God of the impossible faithfully and providentially brought that to fruition in 2018
By faith, men and women, for 115 years, have been trustworthy stewards of the Gospel in downtown Germiston. God has been building His Church in this place! Two world wars, a flu epidemic, the Rand revolt, the Great Depression, the Apartheid era and urban decay have not prevailed against it.
And as we look back, as Israel did, standing before a 12-stone altar on that memorial day, we affirm that the Church testifies to the powerful work of God, it has words of the grace of God, it is a welcome to the family of God, a worship centre for the glory of God and a worldwide reminder of the missionary heart of God. But it also soberly stands as a warning to the enemies of God.
By faith, we, as God’s chosen people at Germiston Baptist, look back and humbly realise that the bricks and mortar are merely a means to an end for God to use living stones for His glory.
Sunday morning, the 14th April 2019, on the corner of Angus and Queen Streets, recorded the last service in that building, ushering in a new chapter of GBC’s history.
As we look forward to meeting at the new church building at 80 Webber Road, we look forward, by faith, to the ongoing faithfulness of God, as people from all nations, ethnicities, cultures and walks of life meet together – a holy nation, a royal priesthood and a people belonging to God. A family.
To God be the glory, great things He has done!