Robert and Elaine Bailey will move on from Encounter Christian Fellowship after nine years

Encounter Christian Fellowship pastor Rob Bailey with wife Elaine. Rob will finish as pastor this year and the church is looking for the right replacement.
Encounter Christian Fellowship pastor Rob Bailey with wife Elaine. Rob will finish as pastor this year and the church is looking for the right replacement.

Encounter Christian Fellowship (ECF) is an independent Church, a member of the Southern Cross Association of Churches in Australia and South Africa and for the past nine years has been fortunate to have a pastor that has shown vision and created a family among the fellowship.

Robert and Elaine Bailey agreed to the task of pastoring the church enthusiastically and on a voluntary basis in late 2011 and they believe and live, that people are important.

They love and care for people in a real way - generously and graciously putting their time and resources in where-ever needed.

Rob and Elaine have decided to retire from the Ministry at ECF, but still plan to keep involved in regional areas.

"I have been preaching for more than 50 years, so it is time to slow down. But we are not leaving Victor Harbor," Rob said.

"What is happening out of this Church is fantastic. We do not want to give it up, as we just love the people."

ECF formerly met in the CWA Hall in Crozier Road, but under Rob's leadership, it made the exciting transition to building ownership when it purchased the old RAOB Hall in Leworthy Street in February 2016 to keep as a community hall, renaming it Encounter Hall.

ECF is not subject to denominational control or hierarchy, determining its own affairs under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. ECF operates on relationships, not rules.

Encounter Christian Fellowship exists to celebrate Jesus and to bring people together to grow in faith, hope and love.

People often describe being at Encounter Christian Fellowship as like being a part of a family.

ECF has strong core values, such as people are important and value of the Bible and prayer is essential. It believes in the Apostles'and Nicene Creeds. See the ECF website

ECF founding board member Mark Osborne said Rob is always available to listen to a problem and offer practical help with a job or a ride - on call day and night.

"Rob and Elaine have been a wonderful blessing to my wife Lynne and I personally and we love them heaps," Mark said.

"Rob and Elaine continue to help small churches in country towns such as Streaky Bay, Lameroo and Pinnaroo. They visit to preach and available by phone to counsel.

"They love to drop around to see how we were going and are genuinely interested in our welfare and supportive of our projects.

"ECF welcomes all people into its fellowship, in a non-judgemental way, sharing who we are, what we are and sharing the journey together with each other. We are empowered by the Holy Spirit."

There are many qualities that have endeared Rob and Elaine to the community, including opening their home for visits and meetings, practical help provided ranging from dog-sitting, helping people move, taking people to appointments, comforting the mourning and taking funeral services of loved ones and teaching practical ways to live out the Bible.

They entered into every church activity and generally they were initiated and led by them, such as men's day camps - a time for men to hang out in the bush on a farm in Currency Creek, men's 4WD treks to the Goog's Track, north of Ceduna, ladies fashion parades and High Teas to support overseas mission (BEE), starting an Op Shop which raises money for community and overseas causes, book launches, home group Bible studies, a combined churches Easter service at Kent Reserve, international guest speakers, Denominational conferences, hosting an interdenominational community gathering as past of the National Day of Prayer in 2018, led the church through the first purchase of property and worked hard at numerous working bees to improve the Hall.

Rob said "God called me into it" and with wife Elaine by his side he has not looked back.

"It has all been so rewarding. All those years ago I went to a weekend camp with Elaine and received the strong call and that was it," Rob said.