Baptist Historical Society of Queensland


No. 1 - September 1984

  • Free to members
  • Membership $5. per annum

President: Dr. David Parker
Secretary: Rev. O.M. Gregory

We’re off!!

This is the first issue of the Newsletter of the Baptist Historical Society of Queensland. Our inaugural meeting was held on 1st May at Windsor Road Baptist Church. An enthusiastic group of 14 people decided to go ahead with the formation of the society. Chief speaker for:the evening was the official Baptist Historian, Rev. John White M.A. The General Superintendent, Rev. Brian Jenkins, brought greetings from the union. Convenor of the committee and Union Archivist, Dr. David Parker, led the meeting and also screened an audio-visual, “Exploring Baptist Brisbane”. Rev. Owen Gregory of Redland Bay Baptist Church, was unanimously appointed secretary/treasurer. Annual membership fees were set at $5, and several people paid up on the spot to launch the society. The meeting also featured a number of historical photos from the archives and numerous historical publications.

and Running!!

The second meeting was held on 16th July at South Brisbane Church. The theme was “Preparing a local church history”. Speakers included Rev. Larry Holt - “Researching & writing your church’s history”; Rev. John Ward - “Printing and Publishing your church’s history”; Rev. D. Parker - “Why write your church’s history”.

Mr. Dick Scanlan of Laidley, gave a personalised account of his experiences in preparing church, and family histories of the German Baptist area. Mr. Alan Miles sent a short. tape about his work in writing the state’s newest history, Rosalie church, which was published that week-end. The audience keenly appreciated the feature packed meeting,’ and joined in supper at the end.


This is the first issue of the Newsletter. It contains notes of the main papers presented at the second meeting. The meeting was also taped. For further information about the tape, contact the president.

Why Write Your Church’s History?

  • by Rev. Dr. David Parker

Most churches try to publish some kind of historical record at their jubilee or centenary. The Union archives contain many that have been produced. What then is the reason for this common desire to put the church’s story in print?

We can start with the simplest reason of all — because the church is there and it seems as if it is necessary to tell its story at a major milestone in its life. It is the same as the reason they give for climbing Mt. Everest - it’s there, that’s all! Or to put it the other way around, the author of the history gets the conviction that it must be written, and so the process begins.

A second reason is that the task is assigned by the theological college or by the church. It is good to encourage the writing of church histories for this reason. Sometimes it might be the only way they would get written! Undoubtedly some worthwhile work has been done in this way. The college library has a growing collection of graduate theses on historical topics which will prove to be use- ful foundations for more important work in the future.

Another reason for writing church histories is that they are part of a larger project, like a family or suburban history. In this way, the history takes on interesting significance as its relationship with other bodies is clearly established.

Perhaps a more purposeful reason is to tell the story of the church for a wider readership, or for posterity. The church’s story may be particularly significant or there may be good reasons for wanting people to know about it. If well written, a church history is of great value because it is a local history and can give more attention to social and personal details than as denominational history.

A fifth reason—to clarify the ‘sinews’ of the church’s essential dynamics. Leaders of churches need to know where the church has come from and what makes it the way it is, otherwise they may not be able to lead it effectively. Some leaders either knew this from personal experience or manage to sense it subconsciously, but most will need to discover it. Preparation of a history is an excellent means to acquire this and so is virtually a necessity.

Closely related to the need for clarification of the church’s dynamics is the need for members to be educated and informed about the church’s life. If they are going to participate in its affairs, they too will need to appreciate its character. Publication of the history in an attractive form will help them to gain this under- standing and will enable them to contribute effectively to its continuing programme and objectives.

The seventh reason for the preparation of a church’s history is the most important of all. It is a testimony to God’s grace! After all, as the apostle Paul made clear, we and our churches are like clay pots carrying the precious treasure of the gospel so that God might receive the glory (2 Cor. Q:7). Despite us, His gospel is still powerful; His love can still be seen in us!

So writing a church history is an important task indeed, with wide implications. It demands excellent work and work of a certain type if it is to achieve its desired objective. It needs to be comprehensive, accurate, attractive, analytical and personalised. Above all else, it should show the power and relevance of the gospel and so be a stirring testimony to God.

Researching and Writing Your Church History.

  • by Rev. Larry Holt


  1. Gain permission from the church to have access to their records.
  2. Some historical work may already have been written. If so, find this and you may well be able to build on it.
  3. Compile a complete list of the church annual statistics from the Baptist Union year books. If you can’t locate these books elsewhere, the Baptist College has a complete set in its library.
  4. Compile a chronological list of the pastors who have served in the church and the dates that they served. This information should also be in the year books, as the pastor of the church is named for each year.
    **** At this point, you will be able to draw some graphs and visualise all this information on paper. A good suggestion would be to draw a graph, showing the membership for every year of the church’s life, then shade in the periods that each different pastor has served.


  1. Church records
    • Minutes of members’ meetings .
    • Minutes of deacons’ meetings
    • Records/roll books from all departments
    • The marriage register
    • Annual reports
    • Old photos
      NOTE: don’t give up too easily if at first you can’t find what you are looking for. More often than not these old records can be found. Keep asking and keep looking!
  2. People
    Contact and talk to people who have knowledge about the church, includlng names that appear in the minute books.
    • Pastors whohave served in the church (also, if possible talk to children and wives of the pastors, they will often have seen things from a different angle.)
    • Members of the community who may have never come to the church, but maybe they 1ived next door for years, and know a good deal about it!
    • Members and pastors of nearby churches may know something of your church.
    • Baptist—Union personnel who may have had some form of contact»with the church.
    • Residents of Baptist aged homes. They may not have been members of your church, but many of them have moved in Baptist circles all their lives and they may have helpful information to share.

Some Notes About Conducting Interviews

Nearly everyone will be only too happy to talk about what they can remember about your church, but a few guidelines are offered.

  1. Ring for permission and make an appointment w1th the person.
  2. Do some preparation before you go. A good suggestion is to take with you a list of questions to ask, based on what you think the person may be able to tell you.
  3. It is often easiest to use a small tape recorder to record all the conversation. This way you will miss nothing.
    Note: Some people (especially older folk) may be wary of a tape recorder. You may need to reassure them of its purpose. You may need to do without it if the person cannot relax with it on.
  4. Be flexible - your questions may well prod the memory of the person. Allow the person all the time they like in answering the questions. Be patient, but try to guide the conversation to avoid too much needless talk.
  5. Always thank the person for their time.
  6. Be sure it is permissible to reproduce anything that they have told you.
  7. Ask if they have any documents they can show you or lend you. (If so, take extreme care with them).
  8. When you get home, listen to the tape and make some notes from it.

Miscellaneous Resources

The list of resources is unending. Information can come from even the unlike1iest of places; A few suggestions usually worth pursuing are -

  • Baptist Union year books — ‘A Fellowship of Service’ by Rev. John White (A history of the Baptist Union of Queensland).
  • Old copies of the Australian and Queensland Baptists
  • Local newspapers
  • Town/Shire council records
  • Local histories written - check local library
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics
    (Note: This is one resource of which you really ought to take full advantage. `A wealth of information is available)

All This Information, Then What ???

You will now have acquired masses of information and you’ll probably be wondering what on earth you are going to do with it all.

  1. Overview the whole thing.
    • Look use significant events
    • Locate turning polnts,.peaks, etc.
  2. Determine your basic approach
    Basically there are two approaches
    a. Chronological - i.e., written in the order it happened. This method is easier for future researchers to use and for readers to follow the sequence of dates and events. It is, however, more difficult to keep ‘readable’.
    b. Subject by subject - i.e. You write about one subject at a time and,follow it through. e.g. the Pastors, the Sunday School work, the buildings, etc. \
    This method usually makes more interesting reading, but can be more-confusing and perhaps unwieldly if events and topics are closely inter-connected. \
    Personally I think a combination of these two methods works best - i.e. you write the history chronologically, but within your designated divisions you cover the material subject by subject.

  3. Determine your basic divisions
    Once you have decided on your approach, you can divide the material up into sections. If it is a lengthy account, you ought to use chapter divisions. \
    NOW you,can begin to sort out all your information that you have gathered. A good suggestion would be to have a manilla folder for each of your basic divisions and sort your information into these folders.

  4. Second stage of research
    You will probably notice that some of your folders are very thick whilst others are rather thin. You come to what we call a second stage of research where you have to do some more research on those areas where you lack adequate material.

Some Suggestions To Keep In Mind Whilst Writing

  1. A balance is needed
    Even after further research, some sections may be thin. However, try to keep some sort of balance between the divisions.
    Try also to keep a balance between positive and negative. Like most other things, the only news you ever hear about is bad news! So make sure you include material about the good parts of the church’s story, and about the not so good.
  2. Keep it simple
  3. Keep it readable
  4. Try to distinguish between facts and opinions. All written history is interpretive, but try to separate your own assessments from the facts as much as possible but don’t make your account merely a string of facts. You are writing a story, not a catalogue.
  5. Make use of photos, charts, graphs, diagrams, etc. all of these will add to the general interest of your work.
  6. Acknowledge your sources and always make sure that any persons you quote have given you permission to do`so.
  7. Check your spelling and punctuation.


This is somethlng that is very important but sadly it is very seldom done.

    Ask yourself — “What impression does it convey?”
    “Is this the right 1mpression?”
    Some suggestions would be …
    a. Your oral sources
    b. someone completely outside the situation
    c. an English teacher
    d. someone who is familiar with Baptist history and the writing of it

After you have asked a number of people to read it and comment, you may find it necessary to do a second draft. After the second draft, allow only one person to read it and comment.


Printing and Publishing Your Church History

  • by Rev. John Ward,
    sub-Editor of “The Queensland Baptist”


By publishing, we mean the accepting of financial responsibility for the editing, typesetting, printing and marketing or a literary work considered meritorious and saleable. The publisher may carry out all these operations himself if he has the facilities, or he may contract out any or all of them. Whichever he chooses, he retains control of the total process. Thus, the author becomes the client who sells his/her interest in the literary work to the publisher for a lump sum or for a royalty on each copy sold, or some combination of both.

When a person or group simply presents a typescript, to a printer to be printed for him/her/it, that person or group becomes the publisher and finances the entire operation. The printer may advise but the client retains control. This is the usual situation for the production of a local church history.


Let us suppose you have written your church history. Now you want it printed. A general rule is that the easier you make it for the printer to typeset, the less expensive the job will be. This usually means that the script should be type written, double-spaced with a 4cm margin down the left side.

Editing should have been done before presentation for quotation and eventual printing. Editing ensures correction of typing and grammatical errors, consistency of style and checking for possible legal infringements. A working journalist is the best person to carry out this task, but you can certainly do it yourself if you are prepared to learn the procedure.

The copy should be complete when presented to the printer, if further copy is presented after typesetting has begun, a further cost will usually be incurred.

By all means ask for a quotation or estimate of cost. This will usually be given free of charge and obligation, provided the work is presented complete at the time, including all art work, photographs, maps, and such details as page size, number of copies required, type of paper, type size for the text, kind of cover and binding are settled with your printer before the quotation starts.

Most printing offices have preferred sizes of page size that best suit their printing presses, e.g. 5 x 8 inches or 180 x 240 mm. If you want a different style of book, be sure your printer knows this before work begins.

Methods of Printing:

Two main processes are used in the commercial industry.

Letterpress is the process using characters of type assembled by hand or machine, and transferring an inked image direct to the paper. This was the original process invented by Gutenburg.

Lithography or the Offset process utilises the principle that oil and water do not mix. Ink is an oil-based substance. Lithography uses a plate composed of oily sections representing the images to be printed; and non-oily damp sections. Ink ad- heres to the former, but not to the latter. The image is transferred to the paper by means of rollers, hence the term “offset”.

Letterpress is still widely used for wedding stationery, docket and receipt books, business cards and short-run work, but is relatively expensive when half-tone blocks of pictures, and other sorts of art work are to be used.

Lithography is usually faster on the machine, especially on long-run jobs, and lends itself admirably to the relatively cheap use of halftones and other art work. The Baptist Print Shop produces work by the offset process.

Proofs And Checks:

As typesetting proceeds, you may be called upon to have the setting proof-read. This is your opportunity to check the work as it comes from the composing room. You will be expected to make any corrections of spelling, omissions or additions, or other mistakes. If you wish to make any new additions or deletions at this stage, again you will usually incur additional cost. However, if these absolutely must be made, now is your last chance to do them!

When all proofshave been read and the marked corrections made, your printer will go ahead on the makeup of the pages ` in the correct order. You can arrange for the opportunity to check this final imposition, ensuring that all is as specified, before the.job goes to press. Now is also the time to check about the type of binding, e.g. whether side- stitch or saddlestitch (or some other) as this will determine the size of the margins that are required between the pages. Some suggestions for a better-looking result — do not try to cram too much on the page. This means choice of an easily readable typeface and size, adequate white space between lines and in the margins, and a pleasing arrangement of the type masses. The few pages extra that this may involve will be well worth the cost.

Don’t forget to include a title page, showing the book title, the author or compiler and the publisher or printer, with the place and year of publication.

By all means try to include as much illustrative material as possible, particularly if the offset process is to be used in the production. This includes pictures, drawings, maps, original documents (letters, deeds, etc.). These will add to the interest and historical value of your publication.

In closing, do not neglect your legal obligations when the book is published. Section 23a of the Libraries Act 1943—79 spells out the “legal deposit” requirement for all material published in Queensland. Within one month of the date of publication you must deliver, at your expense, a copy of the complete work to the State Librarian, and to the librarian of the library of the Parliament of Queensland. The Commonwealth Copyright Act 1968, section 201 requires the same deposit with the National Library of Australia, Canberra. The NLA publishes an excellent guide to these provisions in a pamphlet “Legal Deposit in Australia”, which is freely available from that source. Failure to comply could involve you in a fine not exceeding $10. plus the cost of the book. Yourwould not want to invite a reception of that kind as a reward for such devoted and persistent labours as those which will attach to the writing of your church history.

This act also provides that copyright will automatically extend to the book from the moment of writing.

It is also worthwhile sending a copy of the work to the denominational headquarters, the Historical Society, the Theological College Library, the Historical Society of Queensland, Queensland University Library, and other similar places (including the local Municipal Library).

For further information see, “The Production of your publication”, Lutheran Publishing House.