Lygon Street Christian Chapel
We are a bible-centred, evangelical church ministry in Melbourne, Australia that seeks to bring Glory to God and teach from His inspired Word faithfully. It is our prayer that every member will build a deep and lasting personal relationship with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and be equipped to share the Good News of God’s free salvation to everyone.
Our membership is diverse and cross-cultural, and includes local and international students, young working adults, families and some elderly members.
Sharing Christ with the People of Melbourne
The Christian Chapel is an independent, evangelical ministry located in Carlton, just a few minutes walk from the city of Melbourne. The church traces its origins all the way back to 1854, and it has occupied its present building since its construction in 1865. Everyone is welcome to our services, no matter whether you are a tourist, a student, or someone looking for a permanent church home.
On May 8, 1854, the congregation that would in time be the founders of both Swanston Street Church of Christ and Lygon Street Christian Chapel first met. Services began in the Mechanics Institute, that later became the Athenaeum, in Collins Street.
Many folk attending at this time came from Carlton, and so meetings were also begun in Barkly Street, Carlton, in the same year.
After a decade of united work, Mr H.S. Earl was secured from America to work as an evangelist. After arriving in July, 1864, evangelistic meetings began in St. Georges Hall (later the Hoyts cinema) in Bourke Street. The first meeting was attended by 800 people, the next Sunday saw 1200 attend! After six months 190 had come to faith in Jesus Christ, had been baptised and were added to the church.
By about this time, the Barkly Street Chapel had become too small, and so the old Temperance Hall in Russell Street was secured for morning services, while the evening meetings continued in St. George Hall. Encouraged by the growth of the work, the church purchased land in Lygon Street, and the foundation stone was laid in April, 1865. Just six months later, Mr Earl preached the first sermon in the new building, on October 15. The next Sunday saw the first baptism conducted.
January 5, 1862 had seen the commencement of a Bible School at the Barkly Street Chapel. When the school moved to the new chapel in Lygon Street only three years later, 80 were attending. This ministry reached its zenith in 1880, with an enrolment of 380 students with 25 teachers!
With such a large Bible School, the church’s facilities were stretched to the limit, and in 1889 plans were being considered to add to the building. By June of the following year the rear Lecture Hall and classrooms, as well as the entrance foyer with flanking rooms, a caretaker’s residence and the distinctive towers, had been added.
The Chinese Mission had its beginning when Mr Frank McClean called a meeting in his home at 126 Lygon Street. Five young Chinese men as well as helpers from the church attended the first meeting on April 5, 1893. Using the Bible and hymnbook as textbooks, they began to teach them to read and speak English, and in time they were able to take part in the church’s services. Later, the overseas Mission Department guided this work, and in time a new building (now the Carlton Chinese Mission) was erected at 148 Queensberry Street.
In 1897 an economic depression, due to land speculation, had enveloped the community. During this period folk from the chapel went out to Brunswick and surrounding districts, reliving the desperate need of the poor and hungry.
The Twentieth Century soon saw a great escalation of man’s inhumanity to man in the wars that were to mark this period, and the Chapel shared in these cruel devastations. In the ‘war to end all wars’ (1914-18), 78 men responded to the call of ‘King and country’ 16 were not return. After the privations of the Great Depression 1929-33, the world was soon plunged into madness of war again in 1939. During the six years that followed, 60 men volunteered for service. Of these 4 were to pay the supreme sacrifice
During the Second World War, the Chapel also responded in other ways to need of the hour. There was great pressure on accommodation in Melbourne, and so the church’s Lecture Hall was adapted to billet troops on week end leave. The flood of service people in Melbourne also created a great need for meals, and the women of the church joined with others to run a constant canteen at the Independent Church Hall, in Collins Street. Another outstanding example of Christian service at this time, were the thousands of food parcels that were dispatched to Britain.
Over the years, the Chapel has had a practical vision to see new gospel ministries started. This outlook saw a work started in North Fitzroy by folk from the church, in March 1878. Just five years later, in 1882, another work was commenced in Brunswick. From this latter endeavour sprung the Moreland work, and mention has already been made of the Chinese Mission Church in Queensberry Street.
As an independent church, the Chapel has since seen its work take on a new and exciting direction. A close association with the Carlton Gospel Fellowship has been the character of the Chapel change, as some of these students settled in Melbourne to raise families and become members of the church. Today this work continues, with a steady stream of international tertiary students being ministered to by the Chapel each year.