Baptist Historical Society of Queensland
No. 3 - July 1985
- Free to members
- Membership $5. per annum
President: Dr. David Parker\
Time to Review!
This is our 3rd Newsletter and it marks the end of the first year of operation of the Baptist Historical Society of Queensland. Thanks to all those who have contributed to the life of the Society so far. you have helped BHSQ to get off the ground. It now remains to see where we go from here!
Later in this Newsletter you will find a report of the first year’s activity. The annual meeting will be held as part of the next regular meeting of the Society (see below) and there we will need to decide about the future. Our sincere thanks is due to our founding sec:retary, Rev, Owen Gregory who has served during the year. He has found it’ neccessary to reliriquish his position as he is moving from his pastorate to other work. (This Newsletter is being produced under difficulty without his help!) Membership currently stands at 20, whith is a good start, but unless is grows, it is only just enough to make the Society viable. Similarly, the current membership fee only provides us with a basic budget.
So we invite members and friends of the BHSQ to consider the future development of the Society and come to the next meeting prepared to make decisions about the future. A good deal of interest has been created by the Society and we want to develop as effectively as possible.
The Small Woman
Our next meeting will feature -Martha Plested, Queensland’s small woman,” We are pleased to associate with us the Department of Mission o·f the Baptist Union which is currently celebrating 100 years since she left for E. Bengal with the four other missionaries who made up “the five barley loaves.” She was Queensland’s first (and for a long time sole!) Baptist missionary. The meeting will be held at Taringa Baptist Church on Monday August 26th at 7.30pm. As a special feature, we will display lantern slides from the Baptist Archives of the type used by Martha in her extensive Bible teaching ministry. Invite your church and friends to join us. (See also back page)
Our First Year
The Baptist Historical of Qld. was inaugurated at a meeting held at the Windsor Rd. Baptist Church hall an May 1st, 1984 when a representattve group adopted the suggestion put forward by a steering committee. A constitution was adopted and officers were elected to manage the Society. Dr. David Parker, chairman of the meeting was appointed President and Rev. Owen Gregory, secretary-treasurer. Featured speaker’at the meeting was “official” Baptist historian, Rev. John White. The General Superintendent of the Baptist Union, Rev. Brian Jenkins, brought the greetings of the Union. A number of enthusiastic people signed up for membership immediately.
At the background of this meeting lay some earlier developments. For many years, the Baptist Union had appointed a committee which was known as the “Baptist Hisorical Society.” However, with the growth of interest in historical matters both in the wider society and amongst Baptists elsewhere, it was felt there might be a place for a voluntary society instead of Simply a functional committee. At the same time, the Baptist Union archives were being made more orderly and accessible, thus providing a worthwhile source for historical information. Similarly, a number of churches were coming close to significant anniversaries and some theological students were choosing to write on historical topics for their graduation projects. It was hoped that all of these factors might have given a new-style historical society a welcome and useful role amongst Baptist people.
The first regular meeting of· the new society was held at South Brisbane Church on July 16th when a series of speakers dealt with the practical subject of how to prepare a local church history. They included Rev. Larry Holt, Rev. John Ward and Dr. David Parker. The papers they presented were printed in the first issue of our Newsletter, published in September, and so were available to wider audience. They were reprinted from this in the Newsletter of the Church Archivists’ Association and so reached a national readership.
During the year, the National Trust placed the City Tabernacle Church onto its register of buildings “worthy of preservation as part of the national heritage.” This was an honour worth celebrating, so the Society met at the Tabernacle on Monday October 1st, to hear Rev. John White and the pastor of the church, Rev. Paul Harrison, speak about the significance of the church. Also featured was a representative of the Trust who answered many questions about its work. A video of the church’s ministry was also screened.
A variety of meetings have also been held in 1985. The first was a workshop at the Baptist Archives on Saturday March 30 when several “person”-hours of work was done. Another style of meeting was held at the Tabernacle on April 20, when the society supported the multi-media presentation by Dr. Craig Skinner of U.S.A. (formerly of Queensland) of the life and ministry of Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
The latest meeting was held once again at Windsor Road on June 17, when Brian Robertson, an associate pastor of the church, assembled a large number of interesting photographs and other items and presented an overview of the history of hte church. He· was ably assisted by one of the older adherents of the church who was able to speak of the days when the church was at the peak of its strength.
The society was represented with a display at the 1984 Assembly of the Baptist Union. It consisted of a large folding board, donated by one of our members. It was fitted out with a descriptive sign and also featured a display of photos from the Archives, which created a deal of interest amongst some Assembly delegates. It is hoped that another display can be mounted at the 1985 Assembly.
Two issues of the Newsletter have been issued with 8 and 10 pages each. They have been posted to all our members and to a number of other persons and groups. It was anticipated that 3 or 4 numbers would be produced per year. Postage and production costs need to be watched, of course. Several articles have been reproduced in the Church Archivists’ Society newsletter.
As well as these programme of public meetings, there has been quite a deal of interest created by the Society. There have been numerous requests for historical information, mostly channelled through the Baptist Union office. The Archives have received some worthwhile additions and it is expected that the John Oxley Library will begin microfilming some material in the Archives in the near future, thus making it more readily available to researchers. There have also been some encouraging reports of people and, churches being stimulated to take a more active interest in historical matters. To assist churches in a practical way, an “Inventory of Historical Records for Local Churches” has been prepared and made available to those requesting it.
Membership at the end of the first year was 20 and the bank account had a balance of $22.65. The $5 per annum membership fee may need to be increased for 1985-6 if the society is to be more active.
Sincere appreciation is expressed to those who have supported the Society and its meetings in the past year. Particular thanks goes to our speakers, and especially to Rev. Owen Gregory as founding secretary-treasurer. Nominations are called for his replacement and for a small management committee. These elections will take place at the annual meeting of the Society which will be held at the Taringa Church on Monday August 26th at 7.30pm. The main presentation will be “Martha Plested, Queensland’s Small Woman.” The meeting will celebrate the centenary of the outgoing of Martha, Queensland’s first Baptist missionary. The BHSQ is associated with the Australian Baptist Missionary Society in this meeting.
Recent Acquisitions for Baptist Archives
There is a steady trickle of material being donated to the Baptist Archives which are located in the basement of the Baptist headquarters, Brunswick House, in the Valley. Some of these items are unusual and of particular interest.
Perhaps the most unusual received recently was an elaborately inlaid wooden writing desk. It is a table-top model which opens out to form a sloped writing surface with space underneath for paper and an ink-well and pen holder at the top. Overall, it is about 40 by 22 by 15cms when folded up. It is in fair condition.
According to an “illustrated address” fixed inside it, this writing desk was presented to Thomas Edward Jones when he left the “Sabbath School” of the South Brisbane Baptist Church on 10 June 1881. The address includes these words:
We desire to express the pleasure we have experienced in working with you in our different spheres of labor in the cause of Christ, and hope that, wherever you may go you will always remain a faithful servant of our Lord. We heartily wish you success in your new duties, and trust that you may become eminent in the profession you have chosen, as well,as proving a blessing to your fellow-creatures.
This valuable link with the past came to the Archives from the late Mrs Anne Dorothy Lubeck through the good sister, Mrs Roberts and Mr David Gibson, curator of Newstead House. Mrs Lubeck was a collector of antiques.
Other material that has come to the Archives recently includes a large number of photographs from Mr Ken Smith and the late Miss M.P. Smith. There are several albums, containing many photos which are identified. They provide a link with earlier days of the Baptist churches in Queensland when Mr W.R. Smith was prominent figure in the denomination. A number of photographs and other small itells connected with Christian Endeavour have been received from Mrs A. Brown of Woody Point.
The material with perhaps the most potential of all for future investigation is a large bundle of papers connected with German Baptist, Churches. Mr Glenn Roberts of the Windsor Road Church has been working on this material for some time now. He has even travelled to Germany to do research in libraries and archives there. He has now collected some of the material and given copies to the Baptist Archives and made some also available to the John Oxley Library. (One interesting document that he has worked on will be the subject of an article in a future edition and it 15 hoped that his work will be presented at a meeting of the Society as well.)
The John Oxley Library has recently acquired some papers of Rev. William Higlett. It is expected that xerox copies of transcripts of some of these will be available to the Archives in due course. Conversely, the John Oxley Library expects to make microfilm copies of some early Baptist periodicals held only in the Archives. This will make them more accessible and protect, the originals from damage through use.
To eliminate any unnecessary problems, suggestions from the Church Archivists’ Society are now being followed in acquisition procedure. The Baptist Union office has a simple record slip for use When material is donated. A full description of how to operate collection of historical material may be found in the book “The Small Archive” published by the Church Archivists’ Society.
On Monday, June 17th, Brian Robertson, associate pastor of Windsor Road church addressed the BHSQ meeting on the history of the church. He had also prepared an impressive display of photographs, plans, books and other objects relating to the life of the church. These even included a fence panel and a century-old banner. He was ably assisted in the meeting by one of the older adherents of the church, Mr Spiers, who had lived in the area since the 19205. His descriptions of the church and the surrounding districts added a dynamic touch to the presentation, making the meeting one of the most interesting yet.
Here is an abbreviated account Pastor Robertson’s talk.
The beginnings of the church took place when Rev. John Kingsford, pastor of Jireh Church in the, Valley, and Rev., John Straughen, an evangelist, conducted open-air meetings in the expanding suburb of Red Hill in the early 1870s. A Sunday School was commenced and cottage prayer meetings were initiated. On May 24, 1874 a small building known as Ebenezer Chapel was opened on what is now called Waterworks road, where the small Baptist congregation gathered for worship.
On June 5, 1877, the church was officially constituted with 19 members and with Rev. Thomas Leitch as the first pastor. The young church continued to meet in the Ebenezer Chapel until growth caused a pressing need for a larger meeting place. A new site was purchased on Windsor Road (the present site), and a new building was constructed there in 1888 for a cost of 2000 pounds. The 400-seat building was opened debt-free, largely because of the donation of the timber used in construction by Mr Storie, a member who owned a nearby timber mill. This building was one of the largest churches in Queensland at that time.
The development of the church is centred around the life and ministry of Rev. Thomas Leitch. Born in Scotland in 1849 and receiving his theological training there, the young minister arrived· in the colony in the early 1870s and associated himself with the work of Jireh Church. When Rev. John Straughen left Brisbane, Mr Leitch was asked to pastor the new work at Red Hill.
It was the strong, dynamic preaching ministry of Thomas Leitch that was primarily responsible for the growth of the church. A number of small revivals occurred during this time, and by 1905, the jubilee year of Baptist work in Queensland, the Windsor Road Church reported a membership of 162 and a Sunday School of 275 - larger even than Jireh. Thomas Leitch soon won the respect of Baptists in Queensland and he was elected President of the Association (now Union) for the year 1891-2.
Windsor Road was a strong missionary church, sending a number of missionaries to overseas service, mainly in China and India. One of them was Miss Kate Allenby who assisted Queensland first Baptist missionary, Miss Martha Plested in East Bengal. Windsor Road church was also involved in the formation of the Brisbane City Mission. The pastor was on the management committee.
Thomas Leitch retired in May 1929 after 52 years in the ministry at Windsor Road, his first and only pastorate! He returned to Scotland for a brief visit, and then died unexpectedly at Port Said, Egypt in September 1929 while returning to Brisbane. His funeral at Windsor Road in December of that year was an occasion of great sadness. His relatives financed the erection of a hall in his memory. It was erected in 1933 on the northern side of the church building but it was moved in the 1940s to the southern side where it now stands. It is used extensively for church and denominational activities.
In 1930, Rev. A.H. Brooks commenced a five year ministry but little information is available from this time. However, it does seem that the earlier remarkable growth rate had levelled out by this time. Membership remained at about 130. In 1935, Dr. H.W. Dart was called to the pastorate. He thought of the church as being one “of considerable strength and importance, probably second only to the main Brisbane church, the Tabernacle.” When he left in 1937 after being called to a Sydney church, he had been instrumental in drawing up plans for a new building (but it was never erected) and in maintaining the strong financial and spiritual position of the cause at Red Hill. This was also the time when the church began to drop the use of the word ·Particular· in its title, and when open communion (with individual cups) replaced close communion from a single vessel.
In 1937, Rev. Robert Horn assumed the responsibilities of the pastorate when the membership was 136 with 180 Sunday School pupils. Once again, records from this time are strictly limited, but it was the time when Ashgrove Church was commenced. This and some unhappiness in the church caused a dramatic drop in membership - down to 66. Mr Horn himself left in 1943 to become the pastor at Ashgrove.
On December 3, 1944, the Welsh evangelist Gwynne Durward became pastor. He was a dynamic person, but his prior ministry with the Assemblies of God caused some initial problems. Under his ministry, the church membership increased again to 81 (by 1962) but it peaked at this number. Difficulties within the church caused a decline so that when he retired in 1973, the membership had fallen to 34 and the once large Sunday School was virtually non-existent.
Not being well placed to look after itself, the church came under the control of the Baptist Union, which put it under the supervision of the Ashgrove Church. Although some felt the church should be closed, remaining members desired to persist in their ministries. This determination was to lead to a renewed life for the fellowship. Pastor Rod Bullpitt held an interim part-time ministry in 1974-5 while associated with Ashgrove, and he was followed by Pastor Ron Simpson for another year.
In 1977, the centenary year of the church, Pastor (now Rev.) Stephen Shaw took up the pastorate. Under his dynamic leadership, the church has developed a comprehensive ministry, including student work, Pastoral Care Fellowships, and church planting. Membership has almost reached all-time record levels again. He has emphasised the priority of commitment to and ministry through the local church. As a consequence of this emphasis, the church has sought to recognize and develop the spiritual gifts of its members for ministry in the church and to the world. The church is led by a three-member pastoral team.
News From New South Wales
The NSW Baptist Historical Society was formed in 1974 and has recently conducted its annual meeting. Their publication THE BAPTIST RECORDER carries news, announcements and papers prepared by members. The society has been active with regular meetings and a growing literature publication programme. So far, three books have been published.
Their most ambitious project is the proposal to produce a “Bi-Centennial History of Australian Baptists” in conjunction with the celebrations in 1988. The outcome of their application to the BiCentennial Authority for funding is not yet known, but if successful, it will enable the treasurer of the Society, Mr Michael Petras to work full-time on the project. The NSW Society is anxious to enlist the resources of Baptist Historical Societies and interested people ln other states as well to make this a worthwhile production.
Another major topic which the NSW Society has, been considering is the biography of the former principal of the NSW Baptist Theological College, the late Rev. G. H. Morling. Rev. Ron Rogers, current principal of the college, has produced two erudite lectures on this topic so far for presentation to the society. They have been reproduced in THE AUSTRALIAN BAPTIST. Since “G.H.M.” was such a significant figure in NSW and Australian Baptist life, Mr Rogers’ work is of great importance.
Other papers due for presentation to the NSW Society include “The Jubilee of the Cronulla Church” by Rev. John Giles; “Hyper Calvinism in Strict and Particular Baptist Churches in Australia” by Rev. Michael Chavura and “The Contribution of the Ardill Family to the Baptist .Cause in NSW” by Mr Hubert Watkin-Smith, a vice-chairman of the Society and the editor of its magazine.
Historical societies also exist in Victoria and West Australia. Details of the essay competition being conducted by the NSW Society were published in the last edition of this newsletter.· Closing date is September 30, 1985. The chairman of the Society is Rev. Dr Ken Manley, pastor of Epping Baptist Church. The mailing address of the society is c/- Baptist Theological College of NSW, 120 Herring Rd., Eastwood, 2122.
The Register of Church Archives
The 2nd edition of this useful volume will be available in August 1985. The Baptist Archives of Queensland will be listed for the first time. The first edition, which was published in 1982, was quickly recognized as a useful volume. The 1985 edition is in a new format and contains details of many extra collections Australia-wide. Each entry indicates much useful information including contents, accessibilty, conditions of use etc. The Register is published by the Church Archivists’ Society and is available from P.O. Box 756, Toowoomba 4350 at a cost of $12.50 plus packing and postage.
MONDAY AUGUST 26th
“Martha Plested, Queensland’s Small Woman”
Location: Taringa Baptist Church
(in association with the Dept of Mission, Baptist Union of Qld)
Celebrating One of the ·Five Barley Loaves·
Speaker: Dr. David Parker
This year, the ABMS is remembering the work of five pioneer mis~ionaries who went out to East Bengal just” 100 years ago. Martha Plested was one of them, and she was Queensland’s first Baptist missionary. Hear about her 37 year ministry at this public meeting, and see Ilantern slidesl from the Baptist Archives of the type used by Miss Plested in her Bible teaching work.
Special invitation is given to supporters and friends of the ABMS.
PLEASE BRING A PLATE FOR SUPPER
ENQUIRIES Phone 356.9331 (a.h.)
Note: This will also be the first annual meeting of the BHSQ
TUESDAY OCTOBER 29, 1985
IMr. E.S. Jones - Baptist Ch~rch.anl
Time: 7. 30pm
Location: Annerley Baptist Church
Speaker:Rev. Peter van Donge
Mr Eric Jones was a dynaMiC leader of his church at Annerley and an influential figure in the Baptist Union as well as being a devoted faMily man and company employee. Peter van Donge has researched his life for his ordination thesis and will present his findings at this meeting of the BHSQ.
HELP WANTED: CAN YOU ASSIST WITH THE BHSQ DISPLAY AT ASSEMBLY?
If so, please contact the President as soon as possible.
Your help will be most appreciated.