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The Birth of Christian Outreach Centre

Anne Chapple

This article describes the life of Clark Taylor and his influence through Christian Outreach Centre.

Clark Taylor was born in Queensland, Australia in 1937. He was a farmer with little formal education. As a result of being born again in 1959 in a Billy Graham Crusade in Brisbane, he began training for the Methodist ministry in 1961. This was interrupted in 1963 when he suffered from cerebral malaria and frequently lapsed into unconsciousness.

In 1967, God miraculously healed him. During the Sunday morning service at the Oxley Methodist Church, he believed God was telling him to obey James 5 as it was time for him to be healed. That is exactly what happened on the following Tuesday night when the Rev. Godfrey Williams prayed for him. It was in that same year that he first heard about the baptism in the Holy Spirit, which he received after being prayed for by Frank Fullwood, an Assembly of God pastor.

In January 1968, he became an assistant minister in the Holland Park Methodist Circuit in Brisbane. He was responsible for St. Paul's Church at Upper Mt Gravatt. After a Bible Study on the Holy Spirit, some people remained behind for prayer. One young man who was prayed for that night spoke in tongues until 2 a.m. Another lady received holy laughter which lasted for three days. People who had a hunger for God began praying together three times a week.

Sovereign move of God

In July, God moved sovereignly at St. Paul's. In a prayer meeting at the manse on 17 July, a lady had a vision of Jesus standing before her, telling her that there was going to be a special service on Sunday night, and that he would bring people from the highways and the byways. Normally there was only a small congregation.

True to His word, God drew the people from as far away as Toowoomba and the Gold Coast with the result that the church was absolutely packed, despite the fact that there had been no advertising. As an example of God's ability to draw people, a man came from the Darling Downs after reading Haggai 2:1 about the 21st day of the 7th month. There were manifestations of the Holy Spirit during the entire meeting which came to an abrupt end with the appearance of the Senior Minister who had not received the same Holy Ghost revelation.

In 1969 the Methodist Church placed Clark Taylor in King's College, their Theological College. Because there were people who had been filled with the Holy Spirit but were not being pastored, Taylor began a house meeting at Corinda in May 1969. Fifty people attended the first meeting from Brisbane and the surrounding area. Over the next two years, the numbers grew to approximately two hundred, with ministers, priests, nuns and other people being filled with the Holy Spirit.

Clark Taylor led a group of young people in the streets of Brisbane, who saw many other young people saved as they witnessed to them about Jesus. Some of the young people came from the Wavell Heights Presbyterian Church where the Spirit-filled ministers were Alex Wylie and Ian Barlow. Others were involved with Charles Ringma, who later commenced Teen Challenge in Brisbane.

Early in 1970, Taylor resigned from the Methodist Church. Later in the year he received a prophetic word. Part of it says "....The College which I have spoken about to you and have called you to is the College whereby you live in prayer and intimacy with the Spirit and where I speak to you Spirit to spirit. ... I would have you to learn the fear of God; I would have you to seek the fear of God, for the fear of God will keep you stable. If you do not have a fear of me, then inevitably you will raise yourself up and the devil will snare you. ..."

Late in 1970, Clark Taylor joined with Pastor Trevor Chandler to Pastor the Windsor Full Gospel Church. Later they both left to begin Christian Life Centre.

At the end of 1972, Taylor resigned from Christian Life Centre to spend eighteen months in travelling ministry. Early in 1974 he wrote, "For a long time now the Lord has been impressing upon me to commence another Centre in Brisbane. It is a city of nearly one million people and God has given me a vision to reach many of the country areas round about".

That vision found its fulfilment in Christian Outreach Centre, the major vehicle through which Taylor influenced Australia and other nations.

Christian Outreach Centre

Christian Outreach Centre began with twenty-five adults meeting in the Taylors' home on 16 June, 1974. On the following Sunday, one hundred and twenty-six people took Communion in a rented building owned by the Teachers' Union.

The Church grew rapidly. It had started with no money or resources, but by October was able to purchase a Salvation Army property in Woolloongabba. The Church kept expanding, particularly by unchurched people being saved. It was also a place where Christians, both Protestant and Roman Catholic could be baptised in the Holy Spirit.

Clark Taylor had a big vision for evangelising and teaching children. In 1974, Pastor Neil Miers was employed as the Children's Pastor. Old double-decker buses were purchased from Sydney to transport unchurched children from the suburbs. The Woolloongabba property was bursting at the seams, but children and adults were crammed into every nook and cranny. Joy Time Clubs began for children in the suburbs after school. Saturdays found children's workers dressed up in animal costumes, outreaching with the gospel. Before Pastor Miers left Brisbane in 1977, the Children's Church numbered seven hundred.

Finding space was always a problem, but Taylor never allowed such problems to stand in the way of his vision of Australia For Christ. He believed that there was always a solution for each problem. He was not limited by traditional church thinking. In January 1975, a large property was purchased at Mt. Tuchekoi for a conference centre. Many a child's life was changed at a Children's Camp there.

Televison

Television was another medium which Taylor used very successfully throughout Australia. By 1976, Taylor was starting to talk about using television in Australia in a radical way. By that time the Church had outgrown the Woolloongabba property and had moved into a West End warehouse.

The bold television scheme could not have worked without Brian Millis, a TV journalist. Once again, Taylor's vision was not hindered by lack of money or equipment. Under great difficulties, the Sunday evening services were filmed, then edited down to a half-hour programme called A New Way Of Living". The first programme was shown on Channel 9 in Brisbane on 17 July, 1977.

During the next four years it was being shown on sixteen stations in Queensland as well as in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. A New Way Of Living was radical in Christian Television. The average Australian who never went to church saw large crowds of Christians with smiling faces enjoying God. They saw people responding to an altar call to be born again. They also saw miracles taking place. Large numbers of people were saved.

Country Centres

Clark Taylor's influence was also spreading throughout South-east Queensland by the establishment of other Christian Outreach Centres in such places as Nambour, Ipswich and Redcliffe. Centres continued to radiate out from Brisbane.

One of the most powerful ways in which his influence was felt was in the lives of Christian Outreach Centre pastors. His Methodist background influenced the way in which he structured Christian Outreach Centre. It is a connectional system. There is an annual conference, but pastors gather together in local regions more frequently for fellowship and training, which was vital in the early years because most of the pastors lacked formal or theological education.

Clark Taylor built faith into his pastors. No conference would pass without a sermon on Mark 11:22-24. He took God at His word concerning mountains of sickness, demon possession, spiritual apathy, attitudes to religion in Australia, bureaucratic red tape, financial need, unbelief and impossibilities in general.

To him, Australia For Christ were not empty words. He believed that unchurched Australians would be saved. He believed that unlearned men who had been with Jesus could turn Australia upside down. He believed that there would be a Christian Outreach Centre in every city and town in Australia.

Christian Outreach Centres such as Nambour are an example of that faith. In less than twenty years, the younger generation that was nurtured there has continued to carry the banner of Australia For Christ. The Holy Spirit is being poured out through the anointed music of such people as Tracy Ham, Andrew Ironside and Ian Beresford.

People world-wide are influenced by the magazine, A New Way Of Living, edited by Darren Trinder. Mark Ramsey, who went out from Nambour to begin Noosa Christian Outreach Centre, continues to run with the vision of "The Sunshine Coast For Christ".

Inter-state Centres

Clark Taylor's influence spread to New South Wales. John Gear, a Spirit-filled Methodist who commenced Gloucester Christian Fellowship, listened to tapes of Taylor's preaching. He persisted in inviting Taylor to conduct a tent crusade in Gloucester.

That was the initial step in small groups of Spirit-filled Christians becoming part of Christian Outreach Centre. A number of the movement's leaders, including the vice president David MacDonald, have come from that area, birthing new Christian Outreach Centres throughout New South Wales and beyond.

Overseas Centres

Christian Outreach Centre was beginning to flow out to other nations. One example of this is the establishment of the movement in the Solomon Islands. Pastor Kevin Dales had been a student in the one year Bible College at Mt. Tuchekoi. He went out from there to pioneer Christian Outreach Centre in Innisfail.

One of his members, Lafai Ituaso, had a great desire that Kevin would go to his people in Tuvalu, a Pacific island. Over the next few years teams from Innisfail ministered in the Pacific Islands. Hundreds of people were saved and healed.

Late in 1989, a Bible College building was completed at Balasuna in the Solomon Islands, due largely to the hard work and sacrifice of the Innisfail people. Since then, students from the Pacific have been trained there and gone out to establish Christian Outreach Centres.

Education Centres

After seeing a Christian school in New Zealand, Taylor began to set the wheels in motion to have a Christian school in Brisbane. In May 1978, Christian Outreach College began with 136 children in primary and secondary school to grade 10. It was established in crowded conditions in the West End complex using the Accelerated Christian Education programme. Subsequently, other Christian Outreach Colleges have been established using the Education Department Curriculum.

Clark Taylor also had a vision for a Christian University. In 1986, Christian Heritage College began, with the vision of bringing reformation to the nation in many areas, beginning with the field of education. In 1988 Christian Heritage College was given accreditation with the Queensland State Government so that Christian-trained teachers would be accepted to teach in State Schools. Graduates are now teaching with a standard of excellence in both Christian and State Schools.

Bible College & School of Ministries

From the first week of the inception of Christian Outreach Centre, Clark Taylor began Bible teaching. Bible Colleges of one year's duration were held at Mt. Tuchekoi, West End and Mansfield. He also established a Video Bible College. The year 1988 saw the commencement of the two year Bible College course for the Associate Diploma leading into the Bachelor of Ministries course at Mansfield. Each January there is a Ministry Training School of intensified training for people going out to pastor Christian Outreach Centres.

Clark Taylor resigned from Christian Outreach Centre in 1989. He is now involved in itinerant evangelistic ministry. The movement he founded continues and the vision of Australia For Christ continues to burn brightly in other nations of the world as well. The gospel has been committed to faithful people who are teaching others also.

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(c) Anointed for Revival, 1995, Brisbane, Australia.

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