Small groups, big gains: Creating a culture of deliberate discipleship
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Sydney Missionary and Bible College (SMBC) is the oldest interdenominational Bible college in Australia. It was established in April 1916 by Reverend C Benson Barnett, a returned missionary of the China Inland Mission (now known as ‘OMF’). His mission was to train people for Christian service in Australia and overseas. Without exception, God’s provision through the prayers and generosity of His people has enabled the College to prepare students for gospel service at home and overseas for nearly 100 years.
The story of the early days of SMBC (as recorded in Benson Barnett’s prayer diary ‘Memories of God’s Great Goodness’) is a moving account of utter dependence on God and his provision. The following extract dated 30 November 1916 depicts Barnett’s dependence on God:
“…not only are we a Bible College, but we are a Missionary College…we are taught by Christ, that we are to pray to the Lord of the Harvest that He will send forth labourers into His harvest field…” “…had I sufficient confidence, in the God whom I had trusted, first for my own salvation, then for service in China in connection with the China Inland Mission,…to step out and start a work of Bible Training for Christian Service? I had no money, not even enough to take a ticket for myself and family to go to Sydney (from Adelaide), let alone live there. I had no ‘friends’ there…” “…together the matter was laid before God by us as a family. Was it what God wanted and could such a thing be done, as to go to Sydney and start a home there, for the training of men in the Word of God for Christian service, by a man who had no money and no influence…” “…where would students come from at such a time, even if such a place were started? It was a time of being cast upon God. He was all sufficient and we gave thanks then as we have since that we were shut up into Him alone. The memory is precious today…”
SMBC is a very different looking college today from when it first opened. Facilities for students are contemporary, there are multiple campuses and a wide variety of courses. What has not changed, though, is the focus on the study of the Bible to prepare men and women for gospel service.
Through the years...
1916 SMBC established (in a leased building) at 43 Badminton Road Croydon by Reverend Charles Benson Barnett. Students from South Australia, Victoria, NSW and New Zealand commenced study. Ben Corlett was the first student to be accepted into the College, along with nine other men
1926 The leased building named ‘Ooma’ (now Benson Barnett House) was purchased for 2500 pounds
1927 Electricity was connected and the first three women commenced study
1930 Carlyon House at 29 Badminton Road was purchased
1940 Arthur Street lecture hall was opened
1941 Mr Wilfred Porter commenced as Principal
1945 Rev Terry Kerr commenced as Principal
1946 Airman's Memorial Hall area was donated in memory of pilot officer Murray A. Line. This was later replaced by the R.H. Gordon building, now the kitchen and dining hall on the Croydon campus
1965 Rev Arthur Deane commenced as Principal
1967 27 Badminton Road was purchased to house the Vice-Principal
1970 Wallace House accommodation for single women was opened
1975 Rev Howard Green commenced as Principal
1984 47 Badminton Road was purchased by the College
1984 Rev Ray Wheeler commenced as Principal
1986 Rev David Cook commenced as Principal
1990-97 31, 35, and 37 Badminton Road were purchased by the College
1998 The ‘Weekley’ building with the new Kerr library and lecture rooms opened. This key facility was named after Colin and Joyce Weekley, who were involved in the ministry of SMBC for over 60 years. The library was named after Principal J.T.H. Kerr who served from 1945 to 1964
1999-2004 33, 49, 51, and 53 Badminton Road purchased, as well as 30 Claremont road, for student and faculty housing
2004 A separate administration centre was established on the College campus
2005-2009 Pittwood house at Ashfield was leased by the College as a temporary second campus
2007 Purchase of site at Croydon Park as an additional campus
2009 Additional new student accommodation was opened on the Croydon campus.
2010 Opening of Roberts-Dale campus at Croydon Park
2012 Rev Stuart Coulton commenced as Principal
2013 SMBC Northern Beaches opened for part-time evening study
2016 SMBC celebrates its centenary
2020 Dr Derek Brotherson commenced as Principal
2021 Off-campus (live online) study made available
Learn more about SMBC's wonderful story of God's goodness and faithfulness in our centenary publication - "Out of Darkness" by Anthony Brammall