History of ESA
In 1883, the Evangelisation Society of Victoria was formed to reach the non-church going population of Victoria. Missions were held across Victoria and `evangelists’ joined the work to proclaim the Gospel. Overseas speakers were invited to join forces with ESA teams, and students from Melbourne Bible Institute (MBI – now known as the Bible College of Victoria (BCV)) were also recruited to assist in the outreach.
A Ladies Auxiliary was formed in 1925 to carry the Gospel into every home in Melbourne, to form Bible and Prayer Circles, to supply state school RE teachers and to form a Bible class for business girls. The extent of this work was limited by lack of workers. In 1943, a decision was made to amalgamate with the Australian Christian Colportage Association, which was carrying out a similar work. For two years ESA became ACCA, but two years later ACCA changed its name to the Evangelisation Society of Australia.
The work grew as itinerant workers joined the society and concentrated on evangelizing country areas of Victoria. ESA joined with other Christian groups (Mildmay Movement, Campaigners for Christ, OAC, missionary candidates and organizations) in united evangelistic efforts.
In the early 1950’s a camp committee was formed to organize camps for young people, and at the same time a “Flying Squad” came into operation to hold weekend evangelistic meetings in country areas. A camp committee, today known as the Resource Action Team (R.A.T.) continues to arrange a variety of camps.
The 1950’s also saw the building of the ESA camp site at Belgrave Heights. This original building was destroyed by fire in 1954 and a new camp site was purchased and buildings erected. In the 1950’s and 1960’s “the field work was most vigorous with a large number of staff scattered across the state”
In 1974, ESA purchased 20 acres of land at Marysville. The building of the complex, utilizing many volunteers was truly miraculous. Graeme Pope (original Director) states: – “The Marysville Complex was developed in response to the expanded vision for a mission base, located in a position central to country Victoria, yet accessible to urban Melbourne and the resources of its Christian community” 8/2/84
The ESA Camping and Conference Centre was officially opened on 16 September 1978. It is also the registered headquarters for the wider field work of ESA.
In 1993 ESA changed its name from Evangelisation Society of Australia to ESA Country Ministries.
Acknowledgments: “Going Where the Need is Greater The ESA Story” : D Prout
” The History of the Evangelisation Society of Australia” : B Mackintosh “Draft
ESA Country Ministries began in 1883 when a group of people got together to plan outreach meetings in areas around Victoria to preach the good news about Jesus Christ. It was then known as the Evangelisation Society of Victoria.
Speakers were brought out from England and meetings took place in many varied places around the state including open air meetings in Melbourne during the Show and Melbourne Cup.
Through the years there were different name changes but the work went on especially in country areas. Meetings were held in sawmills, shearing sheds, country churches, and many other places. As well as this homes, were visited and after school meetings held for children. Itinerant workers traveled by horse and cart, bicycles, and later by car and caravan.
In the 1940s camps were started using farms, halls, etc to follow up contacts made and bring isolated people together for encouragement and fellowship. These camps were used to develop leadership as volunteers joined with the workers in planning and running these activities.
The name changed to the Evangelisation Society of Australia and a camp site was built at Belgrave Heights. Workers continued to travel around and later settled in an area to work in more central locations. The camping work continued to develop at a fast rate and in 1978 a new camp site and headquarters was opened at Marysville.
Workers continue to share the good news in there areas by teaching CRE classes, speaking in churches, helping youth groups and running camps. In 1993 the name was changed to ESA Country Ministries and the initials ESA used to describe the kind of ministry we are involved in i.e. Equipping, Serving and Assisting people in Christian outreach with a special focus on country areas.