Baptist Historical Society of Queensland


No.2 March 1985

  • Free to members
  • Membership $5. per annum

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


Welcome to the second issue of the Newsletter of the Baptist Historical Society of Queensland. The BHSQ enters 1985 with an interesting programme of activities in process of deve1opment…see back page of this Newsletter for details. If the initial three meetings of 1984 are any guide, the Society can expect to contact a wide range of interested people throughout the year. This is most encouraging. But what will be needed beyond this is a greater consolidation of its activities and work.

There is ample evidence of a growing interest in historical matters and of a deepening appreciation of their importance for the present and future life of the denomination. A Historical Society is an ideal agency to foster and harness this interest and to channel it into productive areas. The Bi—Centenary of Australia to be celebrated in 1988 is providing a welcome stimulus for historical thinking and imaginative celebration. Our sister organisation in N.S.W. has caught the vision of what can be achieved. See inside for information about their plans. It would be good if Queensland could play a major part in the ambitious project they have commenced.

What we are aiming for is the development of a significant group of Baptists who are deeply committed to an informed interest in historical matters. If this interest can be coeordinated through the BHSQ, then there is every hope that there will be a good deal of creative research, careful preservation of records and useful guidance from our rich »eritage. This can only enhance the quality of Baptist witness in Queensland and ‘ stabilise its growth.

So we appeal to the present members and friends of the Society to do all they can to advance this aim. Your contribution to the life of the BHSQ is important!


BHSQ meeting marks this recognition

A small but interested group of people met in the parlour of the Tabernacle on Monday 1st October, 1984, to celebrate the recognition by the National Trust of the Tabernacle Church. The meeting featured a series of presentations pointing out the significance of the building and of the National Tnust’s activities.

The opening presentation was a video prepared by the church, showing the wide-ranging ministry of the church. The video was originally prepared for use during the Commonwealth Games when city churches were I open to visitors. The BHS is grateful to the church for the use of the video and for its presentation.

Official Union historian, Rev. John White, then presented a comprehensive review of the significance of the church for Queensland Baptists. His paper covered many aspects of the church’s role both as a local church and as a denominational centre.

A special feature of the evening was an address by Mrs. Rae Sumner of the National Trust. Mrs. Sumner prepared the citation concerning the Tabernacle for the Trust. In her address, she explained the·work of the Trust and the processes used for deciding upon recognition of buildings. Her work also included researching the history and architecture_of the church. Several Trust publications were also on display and available to those attending.

The final segment of the meeting was in the hands the present pastor, Rev. Paul Harrison. He outlined some aspects of the church’s present ministry and discussed factors affecting its role as a city church.

Before supper was served, those attending took the opportunity to inspect the display of historical items relating to the church. Those who were not familiar with the church were also able to join a brief tour of inspection.


Our “official” Baptist historian, Rev. John White M.A., has served the denomination further into his debt, adding one more item to his long list of valuable services to the denomination. This time the 125 year history of Ipswich Church which·he served as pastor for 24 years. Attractively produced, with some original art work by C.E. Colran and The Golden Imprinter of Milton, this 114 page volume competently covers the church’s story up to the present. As a bonus, the author deals with a number of interest related issues, such as early life in the city, and the outreach of the church and its association with other Christian activities in the area.

Ever one to throw out a stimulating challenge, Mr, White has come up with novel claim for his church - that it was the first Baptist Church in Queensland. Before rushing off to the history books (probably written by Mr. White too!) to check this audacious claim, remember “Queensland” did not officially exist as a separate identity with that name until 6th June 1859, when Queen Victoria signed the official documents authorising the move. Initial development of what was to become the Ipswich Baptist Church took place on June 23 and 25l Official separation of Queensland took place on December 10 1859 and in the next month, the church was officially formed!

Mr. White’s book is available for $5. plus $1. postage from the secretary of the church, 97 Limestone Street, Ipswich (Phone 281.3050). Buy one for your information and to support the church.


Information is needed about Queensland’s first Baptist missionary, Miss Martha Plested. ABMS Mission Development Officer, Rev. George Stubbs, has approached the BHSQ for 5 help in finding information about Miss Plested for celebrating, latcr in 1985, of the centenary of the formation of the Queensland branch of the mission.

The Queensland Baptist Foreign Mission was formed on June 1, 1885 at a meeting attended by Ellen Arnold, Australia’s pioneer missionary. The funds amounted to a respectable £110. At the first regular meeting of the mission about a month later, the first application was discussed. It was from Martha Plested, a member of Jireh Church. Only two weeks later, it was decided to accept her application, and she was on her way to India by the end of September that same year! Three other young ladies joined Ellen Arnold, and the group became known as the “Five Barley Loaves”.

Martha Plested worked first with the South Austrlian mission at Fureedpore, until a separate station was established by her at Noakheli·in November 1888. Ill-health caused her premature return home only a year later. But in November 1890 she was able to journey to India again in company with Miss Kate Allenby of Windsor Road Church.

Miss Plested worked on, often alone, until 1918, when she retired. She lived for some time in a small house a little distance from Noakhali. But her health deteriorated Lo such an extent that it was not possible for missionaries to care for her adequately. She was sent back to Australia, and arrived in Sydney in September 1922, but was too ill to return to Brisbane. She was lovingly cared for until her death three months later. Her funeral service took place s at the City Tabernacle, led by the President of the Baptist Association (Union) Rev. Ralph Sayce. She was buried at the Toowong Cemetry where an imposing marble monument was erected in her memory. It reads, “Pioneer Missionary in India of the Queensland Baptist Churches. Laboured in Bengal for 37 years and fell asleep at Sydney on 22nd December. Aged 68 years”.

Records of Miss Plested’s life and work are not plentiful. In order to make the ABMS celebrations as significant as possible, an urgent request goes out to readers who may have access to information. If any such information is available, please contact the President of the Baptist Historical Society or Mr. Stubbs, as soon as possible.


According to current records, membership in the Baptist Historical Society of Queensland stands at twenty three. The Secretary/Treasurer, Rev. Owen Gregory, said “This is a good start, seeing that the Society is not yet a year old. However, we believe there are many more people and churches who would like to show their support and become involved”. He explained, “Membership is only $5. a year, which also includes the cost of the Newsletter, These subscriptions are the only source of income at present. We have hopes of developing displays, audio-visual presentations and literature. A larger membership will enable us to move in this direction.” Mr. Gregory also reported on the financial situation, as follows: “Having paid all expenses to date, we have a credit balance of $11.15.”


The BHSQ has prepared a handy form which will help churches and other bodies to sort and record details of their historical materials in an efficient and comprehensive manner. The_form provides space for listing and describing of various items, such as minute books, membershib rolls, photographs etc., indicating the dates covered, the number and type of materials, and the physical conditions. Another section of the form allows space for details of the church’s official published history to be recorded. There is also a section which encourages church officers to develop clear policy on storage, care and accessibility of_records. Copies of the information can be given to various church officers so that there is adequate knowledge of the material amongst those responsible.

The President of the Society, Dr._Parker, said, “This simple procedure will produce effective results and is ideal for churches - particularly those that are wondering what to do with their records”. He added, “If the church decides their records will be made available to bona fide researchers, hen there is also provision for a copy of the form to be lodged with the BHSQ so that enquirers can be directed to the right person without unnecessary bother.”

Copies of the form are available from Dr. Parker upon receipt of a stamped addressed envelope.


The latest development in the establishment of a historical society has taken place in Western Australia. Dr. Richard Moore, formerly of the Baptist Theological College of Queensland, has been a leading figure in the formation of a society there.

The Baptist Historical Society of N.S.W., led by its President, Rev. Dr. Ken Manley, has been active with a highly successful programme over many years. This Society is taking the lead in publication with three quality books to its credit. It is now moving to initiate a national Baptist history as part of its contribution to the Bi- _ Centennial celebrations. All Baptist Unions and Societies have been invited to participate.

The February issue of “The Baptist Recorder” (the N.S.W. Society’s official journal) carried this explanation from Mr. Michael Petras, who has been appointed co-ordinator of the project.

We think this is an appropriate occasion for such an historic book. It will be, of course, the first national history of Australian Baptists., As well, it would be the first Protestant history written on such a large scale to be published.

In order to fund this project we applied to the N.S.W. Council of the Australian Bicentennial Authority last October. The result of this application for a grant under the N.S.W. Government’s history writing programme will not be known until March.

With each applicant for this grant there is an understanding that their project will also receive funds through private sponsorship. To this end we shall be looking to the support of interested individuals, churches, organisations and companies.

As you can appreciate a research project of such magnitude (to be accomplished in a relatively short space of time) will require a considerable period of full-time application to the task over the next three years. It will involve travel to various parts of Australia to carry out research, collect photographs and so on.

Most State Unions and the Baptist Union of Australia have warmly welcomsithe idea with assurances of their co-operation.

Mr. Petras expects to work full-time for two years on the project. He has already been in contact with the BHSQ seeking advice and help. This means.that there is an open opportunity for Queensland Baptists to make a valuable contribution to what is likely to be an historic development.

There are at least two areas in which help is needed. The finst is financially - to permit the research and publication of the volume. The second is in the area of research and writing.· Members of historic and influential A churches, pastors and officers of the Union and churches who are alert to importance of our heritage and those who want to invest their time, talent and money in a worth- while project are all invited to become·involved.

One particular group of people may be particularly interested in this project - and may well be in a position to make a unique contribution. These are students -at the theological college and at universities and colleges. There are many research projects connected with Baptist history that are waiting to be carried out. These would comprise useful sources of data for the national Baptist history. Help is needed in publicising this programme and in enlisting helpers and financial sponsors. For more details, contact Dr. Parker.


The N.S.W. Baptist Historical Society is promoting a “Baptist History Essay Competition” with a prize for the winning entry_of $150. The essay must be of 5000-7000 words on any subject of Australian Baptist History. (The work must be well researched and could be a history of a local church, a biography,,a theme of Baptist life, etc.). ¤ Entries must be typed, double·spaced, fully documented and with a full bibliography. The closing date for entries is September 30, 1985, The entries will be retained-by the Society and many-of them will contain useful information for the national Baptist historical volume being sponsored by the Society.

Entries and further information may be lodged with Mr. P.G. Young, c/— Baptist Theological College of N.S.W., 120 Herring Road, Eastwood, N.S.W., 2122.


LAMPLIGHTER AND SON: The forgotten story of
Thomas Spurgeon of his famous father,
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, by Craig Skinner
Broadmans, 1984 RRP $19.50).

Former Australian pastor and theological college teacher, Dr. Craig Skinner, now Professor of preaching at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, U.S.A., has fina1ly published the book he has been working on for a long time. It is a semi-fictional biography which at the same time presents a great deal of factual material about the Spurgeon family, especially the_ministry of Thomas in Australia and New Zealand.

Perhaps the innovative aspects of the book, such as the imaginative reconstruction of conversations and the details of the lives of various people and the placingl of 201 illustrations together in the centre of the book t with the captions listed on three separate pages, will » not appeal to all readers. But the heart of the book, the origins and developments of Thomas Spurgeon’s significant but often overlooked ministry, will be appreciated by anyone with an interest in the establishment of several influential churches in the South Pacific. It also focuses upon the so·called “Spurgeon tradition” which has been of considerable importance in the direction taken by Baptist life in various parts of Australia and elsewhere.

Dr. Skinner’s book also tackles the question of Thomas Spurgeon’s role in continuing his father’s ministry at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, which he served as Pastor from 1894-1908. Backed up with a large number of detailed references to primary and secondary literature, this work presents a clear case for the importance, power and gracious quality of the younger Spurgeon’s work in the face of enormous difficulties. The fact that these problems finally overwhelmed him does not lessen the strategic importance of his labours.

But Lampligher and Son also has another agenda. The author brings in a lot of extra material in an attempt to clarify the relationships between the Spurgeons and other ministries and movements of the day. In particular, he wants to show that C.H. Spurgeon may have been the original stimulus for much early fundamentalism. Dr. Skinner emphasises that fundamentalism has often been misinterpreted so that it appears as a much more reactionary movement than it was in the earliest and most authentic forms which were· identified with the work of D.L. Moody, A.C. Dixon and the booklets known as “The Fundamentals”. Whether the case is successfully made and whether the attempt to add this second agenda to an already worthwhile theme was the wisest course of action — these are questions readers will want to decide for themselves. But whatever the reservations about the finer points of the book, it must be recognised as an interesting addition to evangelical and Baptist history and it augurs well for Dr. Skinner’s Spurgeon presentations in Australia in a few weeks time.

Two small typographical errors were noticed — the second of which will cause a chuckle…p. 174 says Moody was “Calvinistic rather than Armenian” and p. 191 claims that Thomas Spurgeon made worthwhile “contribution to theological immorality”!



Location: Baptist Archives, Baptist House, 225
Brunswick Street, Valley.
This session is for BHSQ members interested in helping
with work on the Baptist Union archives. There is a. continuing need to sort and catalogue the archives If you wish to spend a couple of hours, please contact Dr. Parker for details or what you can do and what you need to bring with you.

Time: 7:45 p.m.
Location: City Tabernacle Baptist Church

A unique dramatic presentation to celebrate the C.H. H _ Spurgeon sesqui-centenary by Rev. Dr. Craig Skinner.

The BHS is supporting this programme by making it an official meeting of the Society. For fuller details, see the separate publicity materials issued by the _ City Tabernacle and other churches participating·in the preliminary “Jubilate” programmes on April 17 - 19 (see pp. 6 and 7 for a review of Dr. Skinner’s book, Lamplighter and Son)


Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: Windsor Road Baptist Church, Presented by Pastor Brian Robertson· A great deal of interest has been generated by Windsor Road Church in recent years by its remarkable revival But it is also important as one of Queens1and’s earliest churches - it dates from 1877 or-earlier. It has had some fascinating ministries over the years and been highly_influential. Many leading figures in Baptist work have been members there. A present pastor, Brian Robertson, has taken a keen interest in the history of windsor Road. Join us on June 17 to hear the story.


Reserve these dates now …….. plan to be present! If you have ideas for BHSQ meetings or activities, contact the President or Secretary.