The famous Brisbane north/south rivalry and Baptist churches
Brisbane is famously territorial, as seen in the long‐standing rivalries over the virtues of living on the north versus the south of the river. Although perhaps not so obvious recently, and probably explained in part by the poor river crossings and difficult transportation generally, this was a strong factor in the social life of the city over many years. This rivalry might even show up in the first official history of Baptists in Queensland covering 1855‐1905 which described only one church on the south side (although with outstations) compared with 13 on the north (including Toowong and Taringa in Western Suburbs). But it is a much more complex story than that!
Baptists in the Tropics
‘In Queensland, the semitropical climate does not attract European settlers; hence only a score of churches have stability.’ So said the respected American Baptist historian, Robert G Torbet in his definitive book, A History of the Baptists.
Well‐seasoned Church Buildings Re‐purposed
Two Baptist church buildings with nine decades of use (and more) at their old locations have recently been moved to begin a new stage of life. Both served the needs of their devoted congregations very well over their lifetimes, but that is about where their similarities end.
150 Years of Church Buildings Photographs Project Complete
A project to publish on-line photographs of Baptist Church buildings in Queensland in chronological order from the earliest up to 2000 has been completed with the last batch, the 1990s, being posted to line recently.
Baptist Heritage studies Elders in Baptist Churches – is it a case of turning history upside down?
Eldership in Baptist churches in Queensland is the topic of the latest publication of Baptist Heritage Qld. This historical and contemporary report is printed in the newly released journal of the Society, QB Forum. It shows that there has been a remarkable change in this office in recent years which has radically transformed the shape of Baptist churches.
The recently released Australian 2021 Census figures show an alarming drop in the number of professing Christians in Australia – down from 56% of the population at the previous census in 2016 to 43.85% (ie, 11,148,814 people). A century and more ago, it used to be virtually the whole population and as late as 1971, was 86.2%.
So, in the light of this, how are Baptists going?
Bunyan in Brisbane! A short life of Henry George Cray
The early Baptists in Brisbane benefited from a highly dedicated member who had been brought up in a church connected with the author of the iconic book, ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’, John Bunyan. He also had been a member of one of the leading Baptist churches in the city of London. These early influences enabled him to contribute to the ministry of his church and the denomination as a whole in very significant way. This man was Henry George Cray who was a deacon and secretary of the City Tabernacle Baptist Church and a president of the Baptist Union, and its first secretary.
How Baptists have honoured Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth
The death of Queen Elizabeth II has affected everyone profoundly. Feelings were similar the last time a Queen died. In the February 1901 issue of the Queensland Baptist, the outstanding minister of the City Tabernacle, Rev William Whale, wrote:
‘So magnificently has Her Majesty filled the high position and performed all its functions and discharged all its obligations, that the statue of the Queen-Empress must be of gigantic proportions.’
Baptist Churches Photo Album reaches 250 Images (19 August 2022)
Baptist Heritage Qld and the Baptist Church Archives have recently added another batch of images to their on-line Baptist Churches Photo Album taking the total number to about 250.
This large collection of images now displays photographs of all the Baptist churches in Queensland up to 1980. The latest additions covered the decade of the 1970s. There are just a few for which photographs are not available. Assistance is welcome in finding these.
‘Struggles, sacrifices, hopes and achievements’ – how to plant churches!
Latest research project from the Baptist Archives (1 July 2022)
By Bill Hughes with David Parker
The Baptist Archives volunteers are continuously researching various aspects of the story of Baptists in Queensland so as to better understand how to ‘do church’ and to record the valuable lessons of the past. Currently, long-time researcher, Bill Hughes of City South Baptist Church, is working on a major history of the Home Mission which was the church planting arm of Baptists in Queensland in for nearly 90 years and was responsible for many of today’s successful churches. Dr David Parker asked Bill about his current project.
New book published – Mission to Queensland – continuing story (8 November 2021)
Baptist Heritage Qld is pleased to announce that another new book has been produced and is now available for purchase. It is called, Mission to Queensland 1997-2021: Elusive Enterprise and is an update to history of Mission to Queensland (MTQ) originally written by Rev M C Williams and published by BHQ in 1998.
The new 25-page volume by Dr David Parker is shorter although it covers a longer period of time, largely because of a lack of adequate records and information and because the nature of MTQ, the church planting operation of the Baptists in Queensland, has changed. When it commenced originally, it was known as a ‘faith mission’ operating within Queensland and within the Baptist denomination for the planting of churches in rural and remote areas, especially the booming mining areas of Central Queensland and some of the towns along the coast. As such, it recruited ‘missionaries’ and worked towards the planting of churches in suitable locations. It had a considerable staff (self-supporting or bi-vocational) and actively sought out locations for churches. Many Baptists throughout the state were supporters through prayer and in practical ways.
However, in later days, the nature of the operation was changed and MTQ’s role was only to encourage and facilitate existing churches to plant churches. MTQ no longer had a staff or group of churches which it had fostered. The new book documents the history and impact of these changes in MTQ from 1997 when they began until the present.
Copies of the book (in the print-on-demand service) are available from Baptist Heritage Qld at a cost of $10 or $15 posted. Contact BHQ Publications at 98 Yallambee Rd, Jindalee 4074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other recent publications by BHQ are The Commitment to Ministry: Baptist Camping in Queensland 1990-2020 (at $15) and Baptists in the ‘Never Never’ Baptist origins on the Darling Downs 1875-2019 (v 2) at $10. Check the BHQ website for more details: https://www.bhsq.org/bhq/pubs/index.html
Spring cleaning at your church (30 August 2021)
Spring is traditionally the time to do a big clean up at home, but why not at church as well? Take this opportunity to sort out your church’s records and give them some TLC!
Church records are unique and valuable! You never know when you will need them – for legal, historical, stragetic or personal reasons! But they do need to be cared for properly, or else they will not be of much use.
Traditional paper records can be found in church offices and storerooms (even other unmentionable places too!) and perhaps look a bit daunting at first. But they can be managed quite easily, given a bit of time, patience and know-how.
Digital records, more common over the last 20 years, are completely different – for one thing you cannot see them if they on your computer – and even if they are on a memory stick or CD, they are not like traditional paper documents – they are much harder to store and manage, but just as important. So a lot of extra effort is needed.
So why not let the volunteers at the Baptist Archives be your friends! We are experienced at dealing with both paper and digital records and have created a number of simple and informative Guide Sheets to help with the process. Just go to https://www.bhsq.org/bhq/guides.html and you will see our current list – they are completely free and some of them have two versions – an overview and a detailed. If there is a problem not dealt with in the Guides, let us know and we will fix it for you.
The Archives can help with advice and practical help as well. Contact us at email@example.com with your questions. We are able to assist with suggestions and guidance for your situation. We might even be able to arrange an on-site visit or at least a zoom connection to guide you through the procedures with ease.
Organising historical paper records is a simple process providing you tackle it systematically. Handling recent and current digital records will take more skill, but easy enough to achieve if you take appropriate steps. Because of the nature of digital recording keeping, probably a lot more effort will be required at the start, but once you have established a good system, it can become much easier – almost second nature.
Once you start looking at your accumulated records, you can decide whether it is best to keep looking after them at the church or whether transferring them to Baptist Archives for safe-keeping and management is the best way forward. We have a process for that too!
The Archives is keen to discuss the options with you because the safe preservation of church records is important, not only for the on-going administration and ministry of your church, but also for us all as a family of churches in this state.
So get going with the spring cleaning now!
Historical Society forges ahead with book publications (1 July 2021)
Baptist Heritage Qld is involved in a program of book publishing covering four projects, and supports local churches with their efforts as well.
The latest publication to be launched was a 30-year history of Baptist camping in Queensland. Called, ‘The Commitment to Ministry’, it tells the story of this important ministry from the early 1990s to the present day. It is a continuation of a two-volume history written by Joan Maxwell which traced the origins of camping in the late 1920s for about 60 years. The 1990s was an important pivot point in the journey, so the latest volume, written by David Parker, charts the story from then when there were many changes in the nature of the ministry and the camping sites operated by Baptists in Queensland. Copies of the 70-page colour-illustrated book are available from the Mapleton Centre of QCCC (firstname.lastname@example.org).
An update has been made to another book published recently. It is ‘Baptists in the Never Never’ which outlines the origins of Baptist witness on the Darling Downs from 1875 to 2019. The first edition has been revised with some formatting and illustration changes. The 65-page a4 sized production is available at the original price as a print-on-demand book for $15 in either spiral or perfect bound. Copies can be ordered from BHSQ c/- email@example.com
Two more books are in production and focus on planting of Baptist churches in Queensland. One is a history of the Queensland Baptist Home Mission which was the main organisation for outreach across the state for about 80 years from the late-1880s until it was abolished around 1970. The second is an update to the story of Mission to Queensland (MTQ), covering the 25 years since the close of the previous history of this creative and successful ministry. Both of these projects are under way and more information will be released when they are due for conclusion.
Baptist Heritage Queensland congratulates Yandina Baptist Church on producing a centenary history of their church, and also the City Tabernacle Baptist Church for publishing a large book outlining the stories of pastors and missionaries who have gone out from the fellowship. Copies of these books are available from their respective churches.
BHQ had a part in both productions, and welcomes enquiries from churches wanting to research and publish their histories. It also welcomes donations of copies of published church history to add to its resources.
Church records (1 July 2021)
The Archives welcomes deposits of church records, especially historic paper records typically starting from the foundation of the church and up until the transition to digital records. Storage of these records locally is likely to be a problem for churches, so the Archives can help by storing them properly and also giving access to the church for any later reference.
The Archives is also interested in the more recent digital records as well and welcomes deposits of these for safe cloud-storage in the Digital Archive. The website contains extensive information about how to manage records and to digitise them – https://www.bhsq.org/bhq/guides.html.
Contact the Archives for more information on firstname.lastname@example.org
Photography project (1 July 2021)
In another new initiative, BHQ is considering a photography project. Photographs are a key part of the work of the Baptist Archives and most projects of BHQ.
The Archives holds hundreds of paper photographs dating from the earliest days of Baptist life in Queensland, with many others from periods since, most of which have been digitised. There are also many colour slides and more recently, large numbers of digital images.
Any research project undertaken by BHQ or the Archives makes extensive use of photographs both as illustrations and sometimes to gain factual information. The Archives website contains several, including an album showing historical photographs of church buildings from the earliest in the 1850s up to 1955; this is an on-going project.
So BHQ is considering ways in which people interested in photography can put their talents to work to assist. There is a possibility of a photographic competition with the results put on display. It would likely have several sections including buildings and property, then interiors including artwork, memorials and furnishings, and also people and events. There would also possibly be a section for drone photography. There would be levels for ordinary photographers and experts. Suggestions, ideas and offers of help are welcome at email@example.com.
The below illustration is portion of a photo in the Archives collection of a Sunday School picnic at Nundah, Queen Victoria’s Birthday, 1897.
You can be a friend! (1 July 2021)
Baptist Heritage Queensland was established in 1984 to foster interest in Baptist history and soon developed its slogan, ‘Preserve, Promote, Publish our Heritage’. Recently it has created its own dedicated website, bhsq.org and now it has a Facebook page – ‘Friends of BHSQ’.
Visit BHQ and share in its activities.
Baptist Heritage – 7th Historic Plaque Unveiled at Significant City Site (1 June 2021)
On Tues 25 May 2021, Baptist Heritage Queensland (BHQ) unveiled the seventh plaque in their Historic Plaque Project. This was at the site of the first Baptist church building in Queensland, 38 Wharf Street, Brisbane. It was unveiled by Rev Richard Kingham, interim pastor of the successor church City Tabernacle and Tim Weston, CEO of StudentOne, the current owners of the site. A small Covid-safe group of BHQ, City Tabernacle and StudentOne people witnessed the occasion.
The original building, known as Wharf Street Baptist Church, was opened on 6 Feb 1859. The land and building cost about £2000. Previously the church which was formed in 1855 met in public buildings, including law courts. The church seated 250 and was 57 feet by 34 feet in size, and was built by Andrew Petrie in the Early Italianate Style.
Rev B G Wilson was the pastor until 1878 and was followed by Rev H Coombs and then the famous Rev William Whale. The church was extended by 41 feet in 1881 at a cost of £2000 but soon it was too small, so the property was sold in 1888 for £16,000. The last service was held on 5 Oct 1890 and the church transferred under its new name of City Tabernacle, in its new structure in Wickham Terrace.
The old site was used for various purposes over the years, including some small congregations and commercial enterprises, one of which was Radio 4BC. The site is now home to a multi-million dollar student accommodation complex.
Thanks is expressed to StudentOne for their interest and the City Tabernacle church for their financial support. Baptist Heritage Qld has hopes of continuing its Historic Plaque Project in the future with plans for installations at other significant sites. Enquiries are welcome.