SU Victoria has been active since 1880 through a variety of programs and approaches characterised by fun, creativity, relationship and innovation.
Initially it was systematic daily bible reading that was the reason for its establishment, the work being the distribution of Scripture Union bible reading calendars and later explanatory notes, produced by Scripture Union in England.
Following the same line of development as the English organisation, Scripture Union soon became Australia-wide, and began to run programs staffed entirely by volunteers at beach locations around the coast. This was a time when children were to be seen and not heard, and when there was little creative provision for children in the life of the churches. Sunday Schools ran, as the name suggests, with a teaching model where children were passive recipients of formal teaching. The Children’s Special Service Mission was adopted in Australia, and grew to the stage where the red CSSM banner on the beach was almost as familiar as the life-savers’ flags are today.
In the 1940s two parallel movements emerged which provided support for Christian students in secondary schools: the Inter School Christian Fellowship in government schools, and Crusaders in private schools. Both organisations ran extensive holiday camping programs – probably the largest such in the state. When these two organisations merged within Scripture Union in the 1950s, the rather clumsy name of the organisation was the Scripture Union Children’s Special Service Mission and Crusader-Inter School Christian Fellowship.
By the 1960s SU owned three campsites – Camp Tallawalla at Toolangi, Camp Bindarree at Lake Eppalock and Camp Coolamatong on the Gippsland Lakes. These days all these services continue, though in rather different forms, under the name Scripture Union Victoria.
The late 50s to early 70s constituted a period of particularly strong development and new initiatives. Alongside flourishing growth in the earlier ministries came Theos Youth Outreach, The Master’s Workshop, year-round school camping at the new Coolamatong Farm Camp and the Christian Option Program in secondary schools. The Masters Workshop was the base for a new Training Unit, and hundreds of people completed year-long courses known as Christian Volunteer Service and the Certificate of Christian Ministry.
From the beginning, Scripture Union has been strongly committed to empowering volunteers for Christian ministry through hands-on practical programs, and through an organisational structure which gives power to volunteers in the development of policy and strategy. A consistent determination to stay on the 'cutting edge’ and understanding the contemporary context has meant that the shape of SU ministry is constantly adapting, and what you see today as you explore this website reflects that consistent feature of SU’s history.