The Christian Churches began as a small group of independent evangelical congregations with several hundred adherents in South Australia. They rejected denominational labels and regarded themselves as ‘Christians only’. In 1848 the followers of Thomas Playford, who migrated to South Australia in 1844, built the first Christian chapel in Bentham Street, Adelaide, where Playford was pastor until his death in 1873. They practised believers’ baptism, administered the Lord’s Supper weekly, preached the imminent Second Advent of Christ and were active in supporting missionary work. A split in this congregation led to the foundation of Zion Chapel in Pulteney Street, Adelaide, in 1855. As offshoots of these chapels, autonomous churches were founded elsewhere, including Stepney (1858), Burnside (1864), Hindmarsh (1867) and Stansbury (1875). The Bentham Street chapel closed in 1912, Stepney in 1987 and Hindmarsh in about 1990. The Christian Churches had much in common with the Baptists and the Churches of Christ, and several other congregations later moved into these denominations. In 2013 Burnside Christian Church merged with another evangelical group to form Burnside Family Church, leaving Stansbury as the only Christian Church on its original basis in South Australia.

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Hussey, H, More than half a century of colonial life and Christian experience (Adelaide: Hussey & Gillingham, 1897; Adelaide: Libraries Board of South Australia facsimile edition, 1978)

Register, 2 August 1924, p4; 9 August 1924, p4

South Australian Register, 5 November 1873, p7

State Library of South Australia D 7479(T) Hussey, H, ‘History of the Christian Church (Bentham Street)’, typescript

State Library of South Australia PRG 1427/30, Peter Goers Papers: Papers relating to religion, 1999–2008, Hussey, H, ‘Brief historical sketch of the Christian Church, Bentham Street, for the past forty years’