The Bush Church Aid Society of Australia (BCA) was born out of a vision to provide pastoral and spiritual care for the First Nations Peoples and new settlers in remote areas of Australia.
Monday 26 May 1919 was a cold, wet and windy night in Sydney, but that didn’t stop a small group of clergy and laity from gathering in St Andrew’s Anglican Cathedral to pray for and plan a new bold and uncertain venture. They had a vision for gospel work that would send men and women to minister in the most remote parts of Australia. But they were not to know that the birth of the Bush Church Aid Society of Australia that night would result in thousands of people hearing the good news about Jesus in every state and the Northern Territory.
In its early years BCA relied on the support, funding and personnel of its parent body, the Colonial and Continental Church Society (CCCS). The CCCS began its work in the Swan River Colony of Western Australia in 1836.
Sydney James (SJ) Kirkby was appointed BCA’s first organising missioner on 1 January 1920 and his task was to assess and further the ministry of the CCCS across Australia.
BCA has been involved in a variety of ministries over its long history, continually adapting to meet the needs of the people we serve.
In the 1920s, hostels provided accommodation and relational support for children who had to leave home for their education.
During the 1930s, BCA’s medical ministries were established. These included bush hospitals and clinics and we established a flying medical service in South Australia (eventually taken over by the Royal Flying Doctors Service). Men and women took the good news of Jesus and shared his love in practical ways. Our missionaries worked hard to meet people’s physical, emotional and spiritual needs in locations that were starved of services and support systems.
The mineral boom in the 1950s and 1960s turned BCA’s attention to the Diocese of North West Australia sending missionaries to Port Hedland and Mount Magnet. BCA also seized opportunities presented by the boom of opal communities such as Coober Pedy and Lightning Ridge.
In the 1970s, church planting took place in the remote-urban areas of Darwin. At the same time, BCA provided Administrators to the Missionary Dioceses of Australia.
The new millennium saw the introduction of FIFO mining chaplaincy and growing partnerships with other Christian organisations in areas such as Scripture teaching and drought relief work.
In the second decade of the 2000s BCA increased its Indigenous ministry support with the appointment of a National Indigenous Ministry Officer.
While our ministries may have changed over the past century, BCA’s mission remains unchanged – to bring Australians, in rural, regional, and remote Australia into a relationship with the living God.