Visitors who walk through the Bayside Church doors in Cheltenham, Melbourne, for the first time will be struck by the warmth of hospitality that is so evident in the kindness and action of the people who call this church home. This stance of welcome and inclusion is not accidental. It holds a long, rich history that started with its founders, Pastors Rob and Christie Buckingham, who back in 1988 first had a vision of a Christ community that would serve the Bayside area.
The church’s humble beginnings started on the 22nd March, 1992, with 80 people crammed into the little chapel of W.D. Rose & Sons Funeral Parlour. The church wasted no time in courageously lov-ing the community they were called to serve. The same year the church was launched, they started Bayside Community Christmas Lunch, providing a magnificent Christmas meal for people in the community who would otherwise be alone at this time of year. This rich tradition continues to this day.
Bayside Church’s history is etched in gritty courage and a pioneering spirit. The vision of ‘fires around the bay’ continued as it outgrew numerous facilities to eventually find a permanent home with the purchase of the building it now resides in at Argus Street, Cheltenham. The grand opening of the Bayside Centre was held on 2 July, 2000. The church continued to flourish and experience significant growth and a vision of satellite services across the Bayside community became a reality with the launch of the Frankston campus in November 2005.
Three Decades of Impact
Today Bayside is made up of a vibrant community of people from all ages and backgrounds who en-joy doing life together as part of their journey of faith. In addition to a wide array of thriving church ministries, Bayside has proven over nearly three decades that it refuses to stand down when it comes to issues of justice. It actively seeks to prioritise voices that have been silenced. It launched Bayside Media in 2002, producing relevant television talk shows such as The Exchange, The Christie B Show, and Bayside TV.
Those who call Bayside Church home are part of a community that is focused on growing together as disciples of Jesus. They are excited to share their faith and have seen many people come to know Christ as Saviour. They are a Spirit-led community that seeks to live their life shaped by the Gospel of Jesus, which is good news for all. It is a place where all are welcome, all are loved, all are included – a place that always makes room for other.
Bayside Church is committed to courageously loving their local and global neighbour. In 2005, they opened the doors to abandoned children in South Africa with the Acres of Love Forever Home. Today it is home to 11 children, while many others have found homes with loving families.
The church is also very active in Bali, Indonesia. Part of their outreach includes supporting those in-carcerated in the Kerobokan Prison. Pastors Rob and Christie became close friends with Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, members of the Bali Nine. As part of the church’s strong stance against the death penalty, Bayside heavily campaigned for clemency for the lives of these young peo-ple. Tragically, both Andrew and Myuran were executed in April, 2015. Pastor Christie was Myur-an’s spiritual advisor, and she was with him when he died.
Bayside has a history that is built on the belief that every human is created in God’s image and de-serves respect and dignity. Matt’s Place, which started in 2007, is a community programme that pro-vides home cooked meals and friendship for those experiencing economic hardship or social isolation. The Precious Baby quilts was a programme launched in 1996, providing hospitals with beautiful blankets and pouches for babies who are stillborn or miscarried. Personally delivered, they were tan-gible way of expressing God’s love to those who are grieving. Today, this ministry continues through other organisations, allowing Bayside to focus on other projects.
To be part of Bayside Church means to be part of a community with a long pioneering history that is Spirit-led and motivated by God’s love.