How we began
Our story began when Robert Story saw a Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) advertisement in the Moody Monthly magazine from the USA. Robert saw that linguistic training would fill a need for Australians stepping out of their cultural boundaries to share the gospel.
Robert convinced the Interdenominational Missionary Fellowship (IMF) of Victoria of this need. On 10 January 1947, IMF invited SIL to bring their Summer School programme to Australia. SIL responded by sending Ken and Evelyn Pike in 1949, to check out the feasibility of doing this. The Pikes were on their way to New Guinea at the time.
The first SIL Summer School was launched in Berwick, Victoria on 9 January 1950. Australian academics worked with the Americans to teach at this Summer School and the ones run in the subsequent summers. These were well attended.
A few issues were identified in 1954:
- Some Summer School graduates did not feel called to evangelism tasks but to Bible translation work, but there was no sending organisation for them
- The linguistic school needed to continue with a structure that provided for a Principal and permanent staff
- The school needed better facilities than the what they had in Berwick
- Australian Harland Kerr was slated to take on the Principal’s role, but lacked practical field experience
On 9 March 1954, the IMF formed a Council for the Wycliffe School of Linguistics. This was effectively a new mission organisation that served as an Australian branch of Wycliffe Bible Translators (WBT) and SIL in the USA.
On 5 May 1954, Wycliffe Australia sent out Harland Kerr and other workers for Bible translation field service in the Philippines. The school moved from Berwick to Belgrave Heights, which turned out to be a more suitable facility.
Wycliffe Bible Translators Australia became a legally incorporated Australian organisation with the help of lawyer Harold McCracken on 30 December 1966. It has been registered with the ACNC since 3 December 2012.
(Summarised from Lynette Oates (2003) Against the Wind, pp25-43 by John Tan)