South Australian Baptist pioneer celebrated in new book

Melinda Cousins

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A leading figure in the history of our movement and mission, the name Silas Mead is recognisable to many South Australian Baptists. But the scope of his story is far less known.

Most would be unaware of how his faith shaped the next generation and bore fruit in the lives of his descendants. In particular, his advocacy and desire to make space for women in the life of the church is embodied in the remarkable lives of his daughters and granddaughters.

Silas was instrumental in the foundation of our Association, as well as in founding what is now Baptist Mission Australia. He served as President of the Association four separate times and was then General Secretary for eight years.

He was a significant figure in the planting of dozens of our churches across Adelaide and in rural areas. The Mead children included Lilian, an author and leading figure in Christian Endeavour (CE); Cecil, a doctor and early Baptist missionary; Gertrude, one of the first women to undertake a Bachelor of Medicine at the University of Adelaide and an early proponent of both child protection and aged care (Mead St in Canberra is actually named after Gertrude, rather than Silas); and Blanche, who was the daughter, wife, mother, and grandmother of Baptist pastors.

A new book celebrating the lives of Silas Mead and his family, and their impact on our wider Baptist family, has just been published. It is edited by Rosalind Gooden, Ken Manley and Stefanie Pearce. This has been a labour of love for Ros, who had the vision for such a book for many years, and gathered much of the research, as well as an impressive group of co-contributors, to bring it to fruition. It includes chapters from South Australian Baptist pastors Frank Tucker, John Walker, and Torrey Wilson.

An official launch of the book will be held at Flinders St Baptist on Sunday 3 September, after which copies will be available for $30. Copies will then be available for purchase through the Baptist Churches office.

We trust that this study of the Mead family might inspire all those who seek to faithfully follow Jesus in ways that unfold for generations to come (Psalm 78:4-6).

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