Presbyterian Churches On The Downs



1851 First Presbyterian services at Warwick
1853 Crown Grant of 2 acres for church, school and manse in Toowoomba
1854 First services at Allora
1857 Land granted to Presbyterian church in Warwick
1858 Slab church built at Warwick
11 September 1859 Presbyterian church opened in James Street, Toowoomba. For use of visiting ministers.
25 November 1863 Presbyterian church of Queensland officially came into existence.
6 December 1863 First regular services in Toowoomba started by Dr William Lambie Nelson.
1864 First services in Laidley area started by Dr Nelson.
1864 Rev. Adam McIntyre of the Free Church of Scotland commenced services in the Maranoa.
1865 Rev. George Grimm started first regular services in Dalby.
24 January 1869 Divine services held at Gowrie Head Station.
1869 Church built in Dalby.
20 November 1870 St Andrews Church opened.
29 October 1871 Mr Amos from St Stephens Church to start missionary work from Drayton southwards.
1872 First services at Stanthorpe
1872 Occasional services at Ballandean
1872 Church opened at Sugarloaf near Stanthorpe.
1873 Allora charge became permanent when Rev. Thos Kingsford arrived.
1873 Sunday School commenced in Miss Balmain’s Goondiwindi home.
1873? Laidley church built.
24 October 1874 Foundation stone laid for Goondiwindi church.
1876? Services commenced at Silverwood near Warwick.
14 May 1876 Murphys Creek church opened
11 June 1876 Helidon church opened.
20 August 1876 Monthly services commenced at Highfields.
27 August Monthly services commenced at Meringandan
18 June 1877 Sunday School commenced at Gowrie Creek under elder Joseph Stirling.
1878 First services at Greenmount
1878 First services at Geham
31st March 1878 Church opened at Gowrie Creek
1880? St Johns, Bell Street, Toowoomba opened
1880 Church built at Allora
29 May 1881 Church opened at Allora by Moderator Rt Rev. J. F. McSwaine
1882 Church built at St George
1883 Richard Kerr of Allora conducted services at Inglewood.
1 January 1883 Foundation stone laid for St Stephen’s, Toowoomba.
1884 Services started at King’s Creek via Allora
1885 Services commenced at Upper and Lower Back Plains via Allora
1886 Rev. R. Kerr conducted the first services at Emu Creek (East Greenmount) church.
11 July 1887 Greenmount church opened
October 1887 Killarney church opened by Rev. J. F. McSwaine of St Paul’s, Brisbane.
8 May 1888 Dalby church foundation stone laid
1889? Rev. James Crookston visited Millmerran for services.
1890 Church opened at Clifton.
1891? Drayton church built
1892 St George became a separate charge from Goondiwindi.
21 July 1892 First meeting of those interested in a branch of the Presbyterian church in Charleville.
1893 Nanango church built
28 January 1894 Church at Charleville opened.
24 October 1897 First service at Thane’s Creek by Mr Legate. Site was a bough shed in the school grounds.
1898 Church built at Aubigny.
22 May 1899 Baptism at Ravensbourne by Rev. James Stewart.
1899 Church built at Forest Hill.
October 1901 Thanes Creek church opened
1901 (late) First service at Junabee.
1902 Church built at Westbrook.
11 May 1902 Church opened at Ravensbourne.
June 1903 First service in ‘Desmond’s Hall’ at Oakey. Service conducted by Rev. Samuel Brown.
1904 Mary Williams Memorial Hall built at Warwick.
December 1904 First services started at Burton, near Biddeston.
1905 Sunday School commenced at Loch Lomond.
1905 Pratten church built.
1905 Inglewood church built.
1906 Services commenced at Kingsthorpe.
1906 Land purchased at West Street, Toowoomba for a Sunday School.
17 January 1906 Church opened at Helidon.
July 1906 Church opened at Ballandean.
July 1906 Church opened at Allora.
September 1906 Church opened at Junabee
20 October 1906 Church opened at Oakey by the Moderator General Rt Rev T. E. Clouston D. D. and assisted by Rev. J. Lundie and Mr McClelland Inglis.
1906? United Mission Hall at Inglewood became a Presbyterian church.
1906 Services commenced at Glengallen which was later known as Willowvale.
1906 Cambooya church built
1906 Coolabunia church built- near Nanango?
1907? Services commenced at Murgon.
1907 Warra church built.
1908 (early) First services at Kingaroy- church opened and dedicated in the same year.
1908 Kingsthorpe church built.
1 May 1908 Congregation at Aubigny was disjoined from Pittsworth and joined Oakey charge.
8 October 1908 St Andrews Sunday School opened in Toowoomba. Building moved from Drayton.
1908? Services at Wyreema- church built then?.
12 April 1908 Bell church opened by the Moderator General- the Rt Rev. Peter Robertson.
4 March 1909 Stanthorpe church opened.
24 May 1909 Murphys Creek manse opened.
1909 Church opened at Willowvale
1909 Roma church moved to a new site
c.1909 Services commenced at Jondaryan in the old hall
1909 Bowenville church built?
c.1909 Work began in Lagoon Creek (Acland) district. Church was first in Greenmount area then later moved to Acland.
1910 Dulacca church built?
1910 Nobby church built
1910 Chinchilla church opened by Rev. Richard Kerr.
1910 Greenview church built?
1911 Dalby manse built
24 March 1912 Wondai church opened
October 1912 East Warwick church hall erected
November 1912 Braemar church hall, Warwick erected.
3 August 1913 Crows Nest church opened
1913 Allora church moved to Goomburra.
July 1914 Kaimkillenbun church opened by Rev. A. M. Mackillop.
1914 New wooden church built at Goondiwindi
1916 Bowenville church destroyed by cyclone- re-erected free from debt.
1916 Drillham church built?.
Easter 1916 First service on the slopes of Mt Mowbullan on the Bunya Mountains. Service taken by Mr T. G. Allan.
1916 Thulimbah church ( near Stanthorpe) erected.
1 July 1917 Fairholme College opened.
24 October 1917 Broadwater church (near Stanthorpe) opened.
5 February 1918 Girls School opened at Warwick.
29 June 1918 St George church re- opened
28 July 1919 or maybe 1920 Scots College, Warwick opened
1922 Jandowae Church built?
9 June 1922 Millmerran church dedicated by State Moderator Rev. J. Gobson.
March 1924 Southbrook church opened
1924 Negotiations began to purchase Oddfellows Hall at Miles.
14 March 1925 Merritt’s Creek church opened
August 1925 Land purchased at Geoffrey Street Toowoomba for 70 pounds as a site for a Sunday School.
14 August 1926 Sunday School opened at Geoffrey Street, Toowoomba.
27 November 1927 Murgon church opened
1927 Hall built at Roma
1928 Request from Cunnamulla people for a separate charge.
1928 or 1929 Dirranbandi church built
1930? Jondaryan church built?
19 March 1932 Kurrumbul church opened and dedicated by Rev. D. A. Brown
30 July 1932 Kingaroy manse opened
5 November 1932 Yelarbon church opened and dedicated by Rev. Ratcliffe.
1932 Pratten church re-opened by Rev. Richard Kerr just prior to his death.
8 April 1933 Dalby church opened
6 May 1933 Bell manse opened.
13 February 1935 Surat church opened and dedicated
1935 Scots church, Toowoomba opened
26 January 1936 St Johns church, Toowoomba opened
February 1936 Merritts Creek hall opened
October 1936 Geoffrey Street, Toowoomba Committee purchased 2 acres of land in Mary Street for 175 pounds.
1937 Vestry added to the Murphys Creek church
1938 Cecil Plains church built
18 December 1938 Extensions to the Bell church opened and consecrated later on 7 May 1939.
25 June 1939 Geoffrey Street hall moved to Mary Street, Toowoomba
March 1940 Warwick Manse opened by State Moderator Rev. A. C. Kennedy
1941 Gatton church built
1941 Church moved from Greenview to Wondai
September 1941 Oakey manse opened
3 August 1942 East Toowoomba became a separate Charge. Elders were Hastie, Ritter, Luck, Wilks, Stewart, R. Mercer and Dunn.
7 October 1942 Rev. J. A. F. Whyte inducted into East Toowoomba Charge. Service held at St Stephens.
1947 Charleville manse purchased
21 December 1947 Talwood church opened and dedicated by the Rev. D. A. Brown
1949 Burton church (nr Biddeston) sold
12 November 1949 St David’s church, East Toowoomba foundation stone laid.
25 March 1950 Junabee church moved to St Andrew’s church, Warwick and opened as a Sunday School and kindergarten.
1951 Wandoan church built
6 December 1952 small cyclone wrecks Acland Presbyterian church
20 June 1953 Cooranga church opened by Mod. General Rt Rev. Richard Bardon
October 1953 Shannon Park Youth Centre opened.
24 May 1954 Roma foundation stone laid then church opened 13 February 1955
1954 Crows Nest church moved to Kogan
3 April 1955 Church opened at Glenvale Road, Toowoomba
15 October 1955 Glenmorgan church opened
1955 Land purchased at Harlaxton
May 1956 Opening of Allora Hall
15 September 1956 Maclagan church opened by State Moderator Rt Rev. J. Fairlie Forrest.
May 1957 Hall dedicated at Harlaxton
1958 St Ruth became a preaching station
26 April 1958 Dirranbandi church hall opened by Mr Beardmore M. L. A.
2 May 1959 St Stephens War Memorial Youth Centre opened.
22 August 1959 Foundation stone laid at St Andrews, Toowoomba.
1959 Land purchased at Rangeville for hall
1960 Manse/ church purchased at Quilpie
April 1961 Rangeville Youth Centre opened
7 October 1961 Foundation stone laid for Dalby church hall.
29 April 1962. Dalby Hall opened
30 January 1962 Brick church opened at Kingaroy
17 June 1963 New brick church opened at Goondiwindi by Rt Rev. Hector Harrison
23 June 1963 Foundation stone laid at Stanthorpe.
1964 Condamine church hall opened
1964 Hall erected at Bowenville
July 1966 Hall opened at Goondiwindi
3 September 1967 Last service at Broadwater by State Moderator Rev. J. R. Sweet- hall moved to back of Stanthorpe church.
4 August 1968 Opening of Scots Church, Toowoomba
14 December 1968 New brick church opened at St George
1960’s (late) Aubigny church sold
6 February 1972 East Toowoomba manse opened
June 1973 Amalgamation of St David’s and St John’s Committees of Management
9 August 1973 Formation of St David’s Evening Guild
1970’s Kingsthorpe services discontinued
1977 Kingsthorpe church moved to Miles Historical Village
1977 Acland and Jondaryan churches become part of the Uniting church
27 May 1978 Opening of the Dulacca church hall by the Rt Rev. Dr Kenneth Gardner, Moderator General.
2 October 1978 Dedication of Public Address System at St John’s in memory of the late George Edward Wingett.
2 September 1979 Opening and re- dedication of St Andrew’s, Kingaroy.
August 1980 Sale of Harlaxton church completed
26 April 1981 Extensions to St John’s church, Toowoomba dedicated.
7 February 1982 Sunday school recommenced at Murphys Creek.

This list was completed in February 1982.


A cairn on the corner of James and Hume Streets records the site of the first Presbyterian Church in Toowoomba. Land had previously been allocated for the Church in 1853m very soon after the foundation of Toowoomba. Services were first held in the wooden church on September 11th, 1859.

The morning service on that day was conducted by the visiting Ipswich minister, the Reverend Dr. William Nelson, who in 1863 moved to Toowoomba and named the church St. Stephen’s after the Edinburgh Church where he was assistant at one time. Dr. Nelson built the famous Toowoomba property “Gabbinbar” where he and his family lived for many years.

St. Stephen’s was always a Church which placed great importance on outreach within the district. The 1866 Session report stated that communion had been dispensed at Helidon, Eton Vale, Drayton, Pilton, Holmes’ Camp and at private homes within 30 miles of Toowoomba. In 1868, a Sunday School opened with 50 scholars.

Churches were opened at Gowrie Creek (31st Jan 1878) and, for some unknown reason, at Bell Street Toowoomba. Within a few years, the Bell Street Church was closed because of its inability to pay its ministers and because it was too close to St. Stephen’s.

In 1874, St. Stephen’s purchased land in Neil Street. After much fund raising, the foundation stone of the new Church building was laid on 1st Jan 1883 by the Governor of Queensland, Sir Arthur Kennedy. The designer for the new church was very well known Toowoomba architect James Marks and the builder was James Renwick. The Church continued to progress with a new church building at Drayton (1893) and Westbrook (1902). The congregation decided that because of growth in the area, a Sunday School was needed on the western side of the city. Land was purchased in West Street in 1906 and a new school building was opened on 11th Oct 1908. Attendance must have risen quickly for West Street became a separate charge named St. Andrew’s in January 1912.

In the meantime, the church became involved in the field of education. Spreydon Girls College was established in 1908 and was recognised by the Presbyterian Church in Queensland in 1909. In 1916, Mrs. M. Cameron offered her magnificent property “Fairholme” to the Church as a Girl’s College. The offer was accepted and Spreydon was absorbed into the new college which opened on 1st July, 1917.

Another branch of St. Stephen’s was opened in Geoffrey Street, on 14th August, 1926. The Church was moved to a new Mary Street site and first services were held there on 25th June 1939. At this time it was named St. David’s. The foundation stone for a new brick church in Mary Street was laid on 12th Nov 1949 and the church finally opened after a long delay, in 1952. The Rev. John Flynn (Flynn of the Inland) spoke at the St. Stephen’s 72nd Anniversary Celebrations in 1935. He was greeted by a huge crowd and spoke of the work of the Australian Inland Mission.

A branch of St. Andrew’s, Scots Church was built in 1935 and became a separate charge in 1957. Scots opened and dedicated a new church on 4/8/1968.

The people of St. Stephens were again asked to ‘dig deep’. This time for a church called St. John's on the corner of Geddes and Cranley Streets. The church was opened on January 26th, 1936. St. David’s and St. John’s became a new charge known as the East Toowoomba charge on 1 August 1942. Other suburban areas were not ignored for a hall church was opened in Gregory Street, Harlaxton in May 1957, a Youth Centre at Rangeville in April 1961.

The church did not forget its ministry of healing for on 9th July 1966, St Andrew’s Hospital and Chapel were opened in North Street, Toowoomba.
The Church in Toowoomba was involved in many diverse activities such as a Scout Group, a Dramatic Club, a Minister’s Fraternal Soup Kitchen during the depression, and Meals on Wheels started by St. Stephen’s in 1960. Church services were broadcast for the first time in 1925 and St. Stephen’s Radio Sunday School was broadcast over 4GR from 1948.

St. Stephen’s and Scots Churches became part of the Uniting Church in 1977 while the East and West Toowoomba Charges remained a part of the continuing Presbyterian Church. As the above record will show, there were and still remain many faithful Christians of the Presbyterian faith on the Downs. As was said in a 1953 Church Booklet – “May the Church here continue her great mission as a temple of the living God, for He has said, “I will dwell in them and walk in them and I will be their God and they shall be my people.”

John Clements 1988

New St Stephen’s church designed by famous
Toowoomba architect James Marks

DEDICATION OF WINDOW AT ST STEPHEN’S (From the ‘Toowoomba Presbyterian’ of September 1937)

St Stephen’s Church is not lacking in the beautiful. A stranger entering our church knows he is in the ‘House of God’. The beauty of the church building and furnishings, can not only lift his heart to God, but also reveal to him that these people love their church. The generous gifts of many people breathe a spirit of reverence. When the stranger’s eyes fall at last on the eastern end of the church, they are rewarded by the sight of that beautiful window, given by Mr S. G. Stephens in memory of his parents. For the sake of some who have not had an opportunity of seeing this window, and newcomers who have not had an opportunity to make a careful assessment of the same, the following description is provided:

There are rich colours and with remarkable details, the following figures are depicted- Christ as the Light of the World, St Paul the Apostle, and St Stephen the first Christian martyr. The centre panel represents Christ as the Light of the World, coming not in peasant garments, but in garments of His Kingship, with shoulders in the royal purple, on His head and gown, and in His left hand a lantern in which a candle burns clearly. Above this centre panel is seen the insignia of the Presbyterian Church, which is the Burning Bush on the ground of the Cross of St. Andrew. Around the insignia appear the words, “Nec Tamen Consumebatur”, freely translated as ‘burning, but not consumed’.

On the left hand panel of the picture is depicted the Apostle Paul, the greatest of all the Apostles. Years of toil and tribulation have not yet broken the spirit of St Paul, for, although the energy of youth has gone, his face reveals the calm and serenity of spirit that denotes a perfect faith. His hands bear the forms of 2 weapons- his left hand holds the Word of God whilst his right hand holds the Sword of the Spirit. The Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, was used by Paul to demolish the citadels of paganism in the first century, and this sword continues to be effective today. Above the figure of Paul, the sword and the book are again in evidence. This time the book is open and the following words are reveaed: “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an Apostle”

On the right hand panel is represented Stephen the deacon- a very appropriate figure in this Church which bears his name. The duty of Stephen was not only to proclaim the Word, but also to minister to the needy, and attend to matters of organization. His face bears the marks of deep sincerity, youthful vigour, and hope. He bears in his hands not only the Book, but also the loaves of bread to serve those in need. It is apparent, however, that he bears something which he did not consciously carry- the palm of victory which he achieved through martyrdom. Above this panel are represented the loaves of bread which he bore and the palms of victory given to this faithful servant. "Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee the wreath of life". These 2 figures of St Paul and St Stephen also typify the offices to which men are called in our Church. St Paul represents the elders, whether teaching or ruling elders, while St Stephen represents the Deacons or Managers whose work is to administer and serve.

This window is deserving of more than a cursory glance, for careful scrutiny will reveal not only the beauty of the window, but also the countless details with their deep symbolism.


The Darling Downs Gazette of Thursday, 10 December 1863 reported as follows:

PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH: - We are glad to hear that there is every prospect of the ministrations of the Presbyterian Church being for the future regularly conducted in this town. The Rev. Dr. Nelson has preached in the Scotch Church for the two last Sunday's, and we have been informed that

measures are in progress for securing the Rev. gentleman's regular ministry. At the close of the service on last Sunday Dr. Nelson announced his intention (DV.) of preaching in the same place on the following Sabbath at 11 o'clock a.m.

Whilst a Presbyterian Church had been opened in Toowoomba on 11 September 1859, it was only used for visiting ministers when they happened to be in the area. Dr Nelson had a fascinating history. He was born in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland in 1807. He was a graduate of Edinburgh University. Before coming to Australia he assisted at St Stephen's Church in that city. He arrived in Sydney on 30 August 1853 and began his ministry at Ipswich the same year. After seven years of ministry at Ipswich, including visits to such villages as Toowoomba, Dr Nelson resigned and took up land on the Moonie River. He was also interested in politics and was elected to Queensland's first parliament in 1860. However, he lost his seat when someone objected to a minister of religion holding a seat in parliament! Dr Nelson's land venture was not successful so he bought a few acres in Toowoomba in 1863. He later named the property 'Gabbinbar' which was aboriginal for 'beautiful, peaceful place'.

He resumed his ministry in Toowoomba becoming the first settled minister of the Charge. The congregation was regularly constituted and became part of the Presbyterian Church of Queensland. Dr Nelson looked after St Stephen's from 1863 to 1874, supplied at Rockhampton in 1875, looked after Drayton and the Western Downs from 1876 to 188? and then Southport in probably 1887. He was also Moderator of the Synod in 1865 and of the Assembly in 1876. He died at Southport whilst still their minister in June 1887. His only son, Sir Hugh Nelson, was better known even than his father. During the years he was Treasurer, Premier, President of the Legislative Council and Lieut.-Governor.


Dr Nelson resigned the Charge of St Stephen’s, Toowoomba in 1874. He retained, with the consent of the Presbytery, the ‘landward portion of his parish’, under the name of Toowoomba, Drayton and Western Downs. In connection with this division, a second church was built in Bell Street and named St John’s. This church is of particular historic significance. In this, our centenary year, nineteen sixty five, we are currently discussing in Presbytery and Sessions, an Overture sent down from the General Assembly of Queensland, proposing to permit the establishment of Collegiate Ministers.

Eighty- five years ago, in 1880, the Toowoomba Presbytery sustained a call to the Rev. James Carson as Colleague to the Dr Nelson in charge of Toowoomba, Drayton and Western Downs. He was duly inducted as such on 24 February 1880 and the Roll of Assembly in May records both names as Ministers of the Charge. The Rev. Carson resigned after 12 months as the Charge was unable to pay both ministers. In 1886 St Johns was separated from Drayton and Western Downs and the following year Dr Nelson died. The church was closed in 1888, and, after a conference between the Presbytery and the Trustees, the property was sold and the proceeds invested under the control of the Presbytery. The money became known as ‘ The St John’s Fund’. During the next 44 years small grants were made to churches throughout the Presbytery towards financing the purchase of land, erection of churches, purchase of organs, etc. In June 1934, Presbytery decided that the remainder of the Fund be handed over to the two Toowoomba churches, St Stephen’s and St Andrew’s, for church extension purposes.

NOTE- The above material has been taken from a pamphlet: The First Hundred Years 1865-1965, Toowoomba Presbytery, Centenary Commemorative Brochure.

Rangeville Presbyterian Sunday School,17 Long Street-

The land for the Sunday School was bought in 1959 for 45 pounds. The Sunday School has operated previously at the home of Mrs James of 52 Cohoe Street. A building was built on the site and opened on 8 April 1960. The inaugural meeting of the Rangeville Presbyterian Parents & Friends Club was held on July 12 1961.The President was Mrs G.Phillips and Secretary was Mrs Neil. Rev. Miller chaired the meeting and Deaconess Irwin was present. The year 1969 recorded an average attendance of 41 children. The Church later sold the building to become the Toowoomba Christian Fellowship. Later still the hall became a Child Minding Centre and is now a Lifeline Training Centre.


The first available Church report, dated 1866, says that communion was dispensed occasionally at Drayton. In 1874, Church services and Sabbath School continued at Drayton with the Congregational chapel being rented for that purpose. The services discontinued the next year but no reason was given for the cessation. In 1891, a branch Sabbath School was opened again. Steps were taken to erect a new church building in 1892. The building was completed in 1893 at a cost of 150 pounds of which 100 pounds was already in hand. The overdraft was paid off in 1899.

The erratic history of the Church must have continued for St Stephens raised the question of moving the unused church to West Street in 1908. The purpose of the move was to establish a Sunday School in the Newtown area which was expanding quickly at that time. The building was eventually moved to West Street. This became the original St Andrews Church. The ‘Chronicle’ of 8 October 1908 reported:

The old church at Drayton, with thoroughly good and well seasoned timber- it takes an economic Scot to look properly after the preservation of property- was no longer required there, and thus was brought into requisition here. The total cost is 250 pounds for land and buildings. The building measures 60 feet by 22 feet with 10 feet by 22 feet anteroom, and the work has been splendidly done. The structure is thoroughly painted outside, has Gothic arched windows, stamped metal ceiling, and is fitted with gas, while there is accomodation for about 200.

The Sabbath School was opened and dedicated on 7 October 1908.


The ‘Darling Downs Gazette’ of 5th March, 1909 reported that this church had been dedicated and opened by the Rev. P.Robertson, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Australia. Those present included the Rev. D.McLennan of Allora, Alderman Shilliday (Mayor of Warwick), Mr F. Grayson M. L. A. and Alderman McMillan (Mayor of Allora). The Moderator, after the formal ceremony, delivered an address on the mission of Christianity and the church to make men’s lives perfect, and he trusted that the church opened that day would be the medium of doing so. The choir sang several hymns and anthems. A public meeting was held in the old church on Wednesday night, when a musical programme was given, and several addresses delivered. The new church is a striking and substantial edifice, and a great credit to the denomination. The church is holding its centenary celebrations on Sunday, March 8th, 2009 with a service being taken at 10 a.m. by Rt Rev. John Gilmore followed by lunch at the Senior Citizens Centre at 12. 30 p.m.


St Andrew’s can be justifiably proud of the fact that a new Presbyterian congregation was formed at Glenvale Road on April 3rd. The seed of the scheme was sown by Rev. Allen Fraser and the ground was purchased by the Presbyterian Church in 1953 for the sum of £300. When the Rev. William Cowan became minister of St. Andrew’s he immediately saw the wisdom of forming a church at the earliest opportunity and made a detailed canvass of the district. So enthusiastic was he over the scheme that he called a congregational meeting of St. Andrew’s so that the committee of management could obtain permission to borrow the necessary finance to begin building operations. It was decided to approach the W.R. Black Bequest Council for a loan large enough to cover the expenses of building. The Council in its wisdom, recognising the urgency of the demand, made a gift of £500 (spread over a period of two years) and also agreed to pay the interest on borrowed money for a period of 10 years. At first it was thought that we could do the work by voluntary labour, and Elder Stuart Taplin was appointed works manager. The foundation was laid (in brick) and the framework commenced. However, it was realised that it would take too long to complete the building under the voluntary scheme and Mr. Taplain was employed to a full time status.

When the building was almost completed, it was decided to hold the opening ceremony on April 3rd, and the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church, the Right Rev. Rowellyn Ramsay, B.A., B.Com., was invited to perform the opening. The proceedings were under control of the Toowoomba Presbytery, of which Rev. R. McIntyre, M.Sc., B.D., of Oakey, was Moderator.

On the afternoon of the ceremony there was a very large number of people present, and it was very gratifying to Mr. Cowan and the Session to see that the project was a success. Among the visitors besides the Moderator of Queensland and members of the Presbytery of Toowoomba were Mr. R. S. Byrnes and Mr. J. S. R. Wyllie, General Secretary and Chairman of the Board of Finance, respectively, and their wives; Mr. J. E. Duggan, M.L.A.; Mr. L. T. Wood, M.L.A. and Mrs. Wood; and Mr. M. J. R. Anderson, the Mayor of Toowoomba with Mrs. Anderson. At the conclusion of a very impressive service at which the Moderator gave the address and during which the choir of St. Andrew’s Church rendered the Anthem, addresses were given by Mr. Anderson, Rev. J. F. Forrest, Rev. J. A. F. Whyte, Mr. R. S. Byrnes and Rev. W. R. Cowan, our minister. A committee comprising the ladies of the district and St. Andrew’s Women’s Guild were responsible for the serving of afternoon tea.

The Committee of Management of St. Andrew’s is extremely grateful to all who have given their help so willingly, firstly in making the project possible by helping in the erection of the building, secondly by helping on the day and making the ceremony such a huge success, and thirdly, by contributing so liberally to the appeal. Since the opening Mr. Cowan has been highly elated by the continuance of the numbers at public worship each Sunday. A Sunday School has been established and augers well for the success of the newly formed church. It is now our responsibility to see that a project so well begun, continue progressing. A debt has been incurred which we hope to liquidate within the specified time. It is now up to us. And we ask your help and prayers to fulfill our hopes and obligations. (Source: The Presbyterian Companion May 1995 : 3 (33))


Although it is only eight months since Glenvale Church Hall was opened and dedicated, there is evidence that God has blessed this missionary project formulated and accomplished by the Session and congregation of St. Andrew’s. Remarkable progress has been achieved, and already a congregation of friendly worshippers has been consolidated under the leadership and guidance of our minister. Organisations such as Sunday School, Women’s Guild, Junior Fellowship and Indoor Bowling Club have been founded in the traditions of our Church and the work and results achieved by each organisation could only give pleasing satisfaction to all those responsible for the establishment of the building project. With hearts filled with thankfulness for blessings received, the congregation met for worship on Sunday morning of November 13 at the usual hour. Attendance was 91, which was a record. This figure included Sunday School scholars, whose special offering was outstanding and a credit to themselves and their leader, Miss Gladys King.

At this first Thanksgiving Service in Glenvale Church the minister dedicated to the Service of Almighty God a handsome pulpit chair and hymn board, the gifts of Mr. and Mrs. B. J. Hagan, daughters Valerie and Gail, and a beautiful Baptismal Font, the gift of Mr. and Mrs. James Devine. The congregation is appreciative of these much needed gifts which now adorn the Sanctuary.

During the following week a modern sink unit, the gift of Mrs. Campbell, was installed in the kitchen room at the rear of the Hall. Mrs. Prowse kindly offered to have concrete paths laid at front and rear of the Church Hall and, after preparatory work by our own men folk, this work is being carried out by her son at the present time.

The floral arrangements and cleanliness of the Church are now established features of Glenvale. Week by week loyal members of the congregation tend to duties which have now become part of their normal routine and do so with quiet enthusiasm, grateful of the opportunity of serving their Lord and Master.

Much has yet to be accomplished, but the foundation has been truly laid. Mindful of the heritage that is ours and of the debt we owe our parent church of St. Andrew’s, we express the words of the motto of our Australian Presbyterian Great Public Schools; ‘Utinan Patribus Nostris Digni Simus.” (May we be worthy of our Fathers! (R.S. Rodgers Source: The Presbyterian Companion December 1955. 3 (40)


1878 - First services at Greenmount by Rev. T. Kingsford
1886 - Land purchased at Greenmount – Emu Creek for church by Rev. R. Kerr
11th July 1887 - Church opened at Greenmount
March 1905 – Greenmount petitioned to become a separate charge from Allora.
1910 – Church opened at Nobby
14th July 1946 – Diamond Jubilee at Greenmount
Dec 1949 – Nobby Sunday School hall opened.


The block capping ceremony in connection with the new Presbyterian Church at Nobby, which was fixed for 3 o’clock last Saturday, had to be postponed on account of the wet weather prevailing. The Hon. L.E. Groom who was to carry out the ceremony arrived at Nobby by the 2.30 train from Toowoomba, and was met by Mr. J. McIntyre, secretary and other members of the Building Committee, and an explanation made, that on account of the weather it had been decided to postpone the ceremony. Mr. Groom returned to Toowoomba by the express train an hour later.

The members of the Building Committee are Messrs. A.H. Davis, P. Farquharson, W. Kenny, A. Grant, Beavis, and J. McIntyre. The contract was let to Messrs. Dyle and Lake for £198.10s.

The ceremony was duly carried out on Tuesday afternoon last in fine weather. There were about seventy ladies and gentlemen present. The Hon. L.E. Groom, in a neat speech, performed the ceremony. The Rev. Mr. Duffy, of Greenmount, the minister for the district, also gave an interesting address, and several present spoke for other denominations. Mr. Davis, on behalf of the Committee, thanked all who had assisted. After the ceremony an adjournment was made to the School of Arts, which is close to the church site, and refreshments, provided by a number of ladies were served in abundance. This church, it might be remarked, will be the first built at Nobby. The Hon. L.E. Groom left for Toowoomba by the mail train. A collection realised over £20 (Source: Clifton Courier Thursday 24 Mar 1910)


The first Services of Worship at Nobby were held in the residence of Mr. Dunlop at Steele Rudd’s corner. Rev. W. Duffy was the first Minister. Nobby was then in the Allora Charge. Sunday School was conducted by Mr. Provan of Clifton. Later it was decided to build a Church and an appeal was made. The Church was commenced in March 1910 and completed in May of that year. It was the first Church built in Nobby and the builders were Lake and Doyle. The cost was £198.

The first Elders were Mr. J.E. Brodie and Mr. A. Gilmour. Later, Nobby, with Greenmount and Cambooya became a separate Charge, and continued in this way until 1968, when on the 1st July the Greenmount Charge was joined with Pittsworth and Southbrook to form the Pittsworth-Greenmount Charge.

Throughout the years the Guild has continued to render important service to the Church and, to date several women have received honour certificates for 25 years or more of continuous service. The youth Fellowship has had a spasmodic existence, and although there is none at present another may start within a year or two. The Lord has shown His Grace throughout the sixty years and we look forward to more. (Source: Diamond Jubilee Service. Nobby 4th May, 1970 – 9.30 am)


The work and witness of the Presbyterian Church in Murgon goes back to the early years of this century. In the year 1907, Rev W.A. Inglis came from Kingaroy by train to conduct the first Presbyterian Church service in Murgon. The service was held in the home of Mr and Mrs James Petersen snr., the attendance being about 30. Rev Inglis passed away that same year.

Mr C.D. Sydney was the first Presbyterian Minister to reside in Murgon. He came here in 1909 and was welcomed in the Murgon Salvation Army Hall. The minister from Maryborough the Rev M. Kirkpatrick was chairman at the welcome. Early Church members were: Mr Morgan Jones (Secretary Men’s Committee), Mr Wilson, Mr and Mrs N.F. Osborne, and Mr and Mrs Bigalow. Mrs B Leitch founded the Sunday School in 1912. The first Women’s Guild was formed in the year 1914. Mrs J. Petersen snr, was president, Mrs Leitch secretary, and Mrs Foster treasurer. From 1914 to 1924 there was a lapse of Presbyterian witness in Murgon. The work of re-organising the Parish was commenced in March 1924. The Rev T.W. Smythe was appointed to carry out this work. He laboured in the charge from March 1924 till the first Sabbath in January, 1928.

At a Congregational meeting held on 16th October, 1927, the Rev T. Smythe intimated that he had bought a piece of ground from Mr Spillier. The site for the proposed church was situated in Lamb Street. Tenders were called for the erection of the church, and the tender of R. Kay and Sons, amounting to £197 12s 6d was accepted. The total cost of building and furnishing the church amounted to £313 0s 9d.

The church was opened and dedicated to the glory of God on Sunday, 27th November, 1927. The officiating ministers were Rev W.H. Waters and Rev T.W. Smythe. Gifts dedicated to the honour and glory of God were:- the land - allotment 15, the Communion table and chair, the pulpit (from the parents of the Sunday School children) and the Bible (from the Moderator – W.C. Radcliffe). The Rev T.W. Smythe was given the privilege of naming the church, and the name chosen was St. Thomas’. The hope was expressed then that many would be led like the apostle to declare “My Lord and my God”. A word of thanks was accorded to Mrs and Miss Scott of Melbourne in giving of their time and talents to help to raise money for the building of the new Church. Names prominent in the early days of the Church were Messrs Wilson, Leitch, Cunningham, Osborne and Ambrose, all from Murgon and Messrs Hall, Anderson and Buckingham, from Goomeri. In the year 1927 the minister travelled 3,375 miles. The Sunday School in 1927 was in the capable hands of Mrs Leitch, assisted by a willing band of teachers. Elizabeth Hawke was in charge of the Cradle roll in 1927.

On March 28th 1928, a meeting of the ladies of the Church was held for the purpose of forming a Guild. The ladies present were Mesdames Ambrose, Leitch, McKenzie, Petersen, Frahm, J. Wilson, Cunningham, G. Angel, Osborne and Miss Moodie. The Chairman, Rev W. Daniells spoke of the value the Church Guild would be to the committee, and the following office-bearers were elected:
President – Mrs Leitch
Vice-Presidents – Mrs Wilson and Mrs McKenaie (?)
Secretary – Mrs Osborne
Treasurer – Mrs Cunningham

From the day of its inception, the Guild has played a prominent part in the work of the Murgon Church. Through the years the guild has donated many furnishings to the Church, including windows, seats and hymn board. A christening font was given to the church in memory of Martha Angel. Three silver vases were given in memory of departed friends. A Communion Table and three chairs were placed in the Church to the memory of J.C.V. Mein, by his wife and family. The first Communion Service was held in St Thomas’ in the month of July, 1930. When writing this history, I came upon a card on which was printed this verse.

Remember, Life is only lent,
Be careful, then, how it is spent.
Remember thy Creator
And worship with us.

The Church during its twenty-five years of existence has experienced mountain-top experiences, and the experience of dwelling in the valley, but through them all the guiding hand of God led onward. In September 1951, a pulpit, bible and cushion were dedicated; the Bible, in memory of Mr and Mrs Frahm snr, was given by the Frahm family. In September 1952, a pulpit chair was dedicated in memory of John Petersen. This chair was given by Mr and Mrs J Petersen. Today finds the Church in good heart, with a fully-organized Church Life – Session, Committee of Management, Women’s Guild, Choir, Senior Fellowship, Sunday School and Junior Fellowship, all working for the extension of God’s Kingdom and the glory of His Name. In looking back we praise God for His goodness and we go forward into the future with the knowledge that the Lord our God goes before us.


The opening of St Paul’s Presbyterian Church at Southbrook took place on Friday, 25 March, 1924. The Church was packed to overflowing . Clergy were represented by Queensland Moderator, Rev. Martin and Reverends Beagre (Pittsworth), Harrison (Greenmount) and Armour (Toowoomba).
Mr B. Binney of Pittsworth was organist and lead the worship with the singing of the old hundredth hymn ‘All people that on earth do dwell’.
The Moderator then read part of 10th chapter of the book of Acts. This was followed by a solo sung by Mrs G. Mayall (Jnr) who sang‘ In the Cathedral’.
The Moderator then gave a short children’s address. He used the 104th Psalm. After further praise and prayer, Rev. Beagre read a statement of accounts in connection with the building of accounts.

The first meeting in connection with the matter took place on 6 July 1922. A Women’s Guild was formed and a start was made to raise funds for the
building of a new church. From that day they never looked back. He congratulated the Church people on their fine accomplishment in such a short time. The plans and specifications of the new church were kindly drawn up by Mr W. Harris of Linthorpe, thus saving much expense. At the present time 320 pounds has been raised towards the total cost of 445 pounds. Furniture has cost 60 pounds and the present debt on the building is
173 pounds. He congratulated the Womens Guild on their fine work. Their efforts amounted to 100 pounds. Mrs John Anderson and family have donated the pulpit in remembrance of their late husband and father. Mr and Mrs Harris and family donated the pulpit chair whilst Messrs Bruce Brothers gave the foundation stone. Rev. Beagre thanked everyone for their help and co- operation. A collection yielded the sum of 17 pounds after which the Moderator gave a very long and lucid address taken from Acts 1. Mr B. Binney then gave a solo named ‘Galilee’. The service then closed with the singing of hymn 464.

A reception was given to the Moderator afterwards in the School of Arts hall. A large crowd assembled with Rev. Beagre acting as President. A splendid luncheon was provided by the ladies. Mr Beagre said it was the third time they had tried to perform the opening ceremony. Twice they had to postpone it on account of rain but he was pleased they had at last proceeded. He then extended to the Moderator a hearty welcome on behalf of the people of the church and assured him of their loyalty to their Church. He could assure him that Southbrook was a very important centre. He would be able to see the district at its best. They hoped the Moderator’s short stay would be a very happy one. Rev. John Armour apologised for the absence of his colleague Rev. A. Martin who was absent from Toowoomba. He extended his congratulations on behalf of St Andrew’s and St Stephen’s congregations. On behalf of the Presbytery he extended a hearty welcome to the Moderator to the district. The Presbyterian Church was a mission Church, and was endeavouring to spread the Christian doctrine throughout the world. He congratulated the Southbrook people on
the fine Church they had erected, and hoped it would be a tower of strength to them and their children’s children. A song was then sung by Mrs Armour. Mr Beagre said he was pleased to have the local Member of Parliament present and called on him to speak. Mr W. A. Deacon M.L.A. said it was his first visit to the district since his election and he was very pleased to be present on such an occasion as this. He extended a hearty welcome to the Moderator on behalf on the electors of Cunningham. He congratulated the Southbrook Presbyterians on the fine Church they had opened that day. He had not yet met all his constituents but hoped to do so as he went along. A song was then sung by Mr Binney. The Chairman then extended a hearty welcome to Mr and Mrs P. Adam of Toowoomba. Mr Adam was transferred
from the position of head master of Pittsworth State School, and while in the district had been an ardent Church worker. Mr Adam thanked the Chairman for his kind remarks.

That day was an important one in his Church, for they were celebrating the golden Jubilee of the Presbyterian Church at Yangan, the Church at which he took his first Communion in Queensland. It was rather a coincidence that on the same day they were opening a new Church at Southbrook. When in Pittsworth, some 16 years ago, they thought of building a Church in Southbrook. The effort fell through, but he was pleased to see his wish of so long ago materialised. He hoped the Church would prove a blessing to those who erected it. Mr G. Mayall (Jnr) then sang. This was followed by a piano solo by Miss A. Fisher. The Moderator, in a humourous speech, congratulated Southbrook on a fine Church. Particularly he wished to thank the Sewing Guild, which had done such fine work. He was sorry the people were disappointed on 2 different occasions but they could not do without the rain and should not growl about it. This was his first visit to Southbrook, and the first time he had seen the Downs at its best, which itself was a great treat. He commended the members of his Church at Southbrook for their pluck in building a Church during one of the worst droughts on record, particularly as their numbers were so small. He also spoke highly of the first Service held that evening and was pleased to see such a fine organ installed in the Church. They were fortunate in having such as pastor as Rev. Beagre, who was doing such fine work for the Church in the district. He congratulated them on behalf of the Presbyterian Church in Queensland. He concluded by wishing them all God speed. The Chairman then moved a vote of thanks to all who had assisted with the function particularly those who rendered musical items. All joined in singing ‘God Save the King’ and proceedings closed with the pronouncement of the Benediction.

(Above material summarised by John Clements from the Toowoomba Chronicle and Darling Downs Gazette of 26 March 1924. Proof read by Nola Robinson)


To the Editor
Toowoomba Chronicle

Dear Sir,
Just over 50 years ago the Westbrook Station was repurchased by the Queensland Government, cut up into farms and released for selection to the public. Among those people who selected a block adjacent to the Westbrook Railway Station was the Campbell family – so after erecting their home and getting settled in, they being good Presbyterians thought it was only right and proper to make a canvas of the district with a view of locating any other families of the Presbyterian faith. Having done this the Campbell family opened their home to these people and any others who cared to come and having contacted the minister of St. Stephens Toowoomba, who with several laymen of that church, started services in the home. Later on as the people became established on their farms a Committee was formed and a fund started with the object of building a church in the district. The late Mr. F.G.G. Couper of old Westbrook station homestead was approached for a donation – presented the committee with a substantial building which had been doing duty as a billiard room.

The Rev. Joseph Lundie of Toowoomba and Mr. John McKinney, a prominent businessman of that city gave a beautiful block of land on which to build a church. It wasn’t very long before the one time billiard room transferred to its present position on that piece of land. It has well and faithfully served the district as a place of worship for fifty years withstanding the force of storms – wind and weather. The present congregation (mostly the descendants of the old pioneers) again started a fund with which to build a new church and have I believe, a considerable sum in hand for that purpose. So this afternoon in spite of damp gloomy weather and in the presence of a good crowd of people from near and far, the foundation stone of the proposed new building was well and truly laid by Mr Ralph Couper, a son of the late Mr. Couper of old Westbrook Homestead. The officiating minister at the function was the Rev. Ken Stephens of Millmerran.

The Home mission committee of the Church in Brisbane established the church as a Home mission charge – but services were regularly held by the ministers from Toowoomba assisted by laymen and as the charge was growing – a move was made to call an ordained minister and the Rev. Samuel Brown was duly inducted into the charge and the first elder to be ordained and inducted was the late Mr. Murdo McAuley and later Mr. Alex Rogers an elder of St. Stephens Toowoomba – who with his family had come to live at Westbrook, was inducted to serve with Elder McAuley. Most of the old pioneers of the church have been called to their great reward, but their sons and daughters and grandchildren still carry on the work. Some of the names of the founders of the church are:- The Harvey family, Searles, Blackwells, McKenzies, Campbells, Harkiss’s, Richmonds, McDonalds, Riethmullers, Browns, Kleins, Volkers, Drewes, Coupers, Clappisons, McAllisters, Evans, Taylors, Fetts, Rogers, Wilkinsons, Jones, Harringtons, Rowes and Ridgeways.

The function was opened by the Rev. K. Stevens with scripture reading and prayer and the singing of the hymn “The Churches one foundation is Jesus Christ Our Lord”, after which the foundation stone was laid.
The Salvation Army band from Toowoomba played several hymns accompanying the singing. A couple of stalls well laden with goods were well patronised and the afternoon tea stall seemed to do good business. The celebrations are to be continued tomorrow with special church services. Proceedings closed with singing the doxology.

Yours sincerely John Rogers.


The first I remember is when my late husband and I received a notice from Rev. D.S. Jones, the Minister of St. Stephen’s Church telling us that St. Stephen’s was to hold a meeting at Mr. and Mrs. Jim Smart’s residence in Somerset St to discuss purchasing a piece of ground at the corner of Stuart and Cranley Streets to build a new Presbyterian Church. A good roll up of men and women attended the meeting. A committee was formed and as far as I can remember Mr. Jim Smart was President and Mrs. Powe, Secretary or Treasurer. There is a photo hanging in the vestry of this original committee. Also in this photo is Mrs. Moncrieff who was not a committee member but the church organist. (Twice each Sunday for many years). The meetings continued to be held at Mr. and Mrs. Smart’s home.

It was not long when one Saturday Afternoon some gentleman from St. Stephen’s met the lady owner of the piece of land at the ground and there purchased the present site of St. John’s Church, Sunday School hall, Manse and two adjoining blocks. With that piece of ground purchased we had to start to raise money. A fete was held in the grounds of St. Stephen’s manse one Saturday afternoon. After that we used to hold a fete once a year in St. Stephen’s Sunday School Hall. I must thank the very many people who gave so freely to us and did things to help us. We eventually got the stumps in to start building our church. We had a stump capping ceremony and raised a sum of money to help continue our building.

Rev. McKnight Jones, son of Rev. D.S. Jones was our first minister. When the church was completed we had an official opening service. The Rev. Gresham who was Moderator opened the door with a gold key. During the service Mrs. Jones sang “Bless This House’. During the years that followed Mrs. Jones, her two brothers Jack and Charlie Rogers and Mottie Morgan, who later married Charlie Rogers, were frequent artists at the many social evenings which were held to raise money. Mottie Morgan was also superintendent of the Sunday School for many years. When Rev. and Mrs. D.S. Jones left Toowoomba they presented St. John’s with two little palms for the pulpit area of the church, where they took pride of place for 40 years. These palms grew to lovely big palms after being devotedly watered each Wednesday by my sister Jeanie Macfarlane.

We had missionary ministers come from Murphy’s Creek (which was my childhood church and Sunday School) to take our evening services. Many of these missionaries and our ministers from St. John’s later became Moderators of Queensland. St. John’s had a combined committee for a while then a Women’s Guild and a Men’s Committee were formed. My sister Mrs. Searle drove myself and other members of the guild to Brisbane for a conference. Rev. Andrew Kennedy was inducted as Moderator. The roads were not real good in those times. I can remember three punctures on that trip.

To beautify the grounds there was a tree planting one Saturday afternoon when different members of the congregation planted trees in memory of their loved ones. The large pine tree was planted by Miss Macfarlane, Mrs. Searle and myself in memory of our mother. I do not remember just which Saturday function this was, but there were so many people we ran short of milk for afternoon tea. In those days you could not buy milk at a shop. I went home and milked my house cow and before anyone missed me I returned with a billy of milk. My daughter Miriam who went with me to milk the cow still has a vivid memory of me wearing a burgundy skirt and a half-fur coat as I sat milking the cow. After the corner shop started selling bottles of milk my sister Jeanie Macfarlane used to go to the shop and buy bottles of milk for all our functions. My sister Mrs. Searle and myself went round all the church members and collected their favourite recipes and compiled a cookery book which we sold for one shilling each. This little book was sent to many parts of the world by people to their friends. We had to have a second lot printed.

A small Sunday School Hall was built but we soon found it was far too small. Mr. & Mrs. Andy Martin who came from Jandowae joined St. John’s. They were keen indoor bowlers. They soon had a bowls club formed from our church members. The bowling club men, of which my husband was one, offered to help extend our hall. The church had enough money to dig out the ground and put up the frame work which doubled the size of the hall with a stage, kitchen and meeting room. The bowls men finished the rest of the work and painting, completing the Sunday School hall as it stands today free of charge, for which we thank them very much. The men enjoyed doing the work and many games of bowls in the years that followed, and have won many trophies.

During the war when petrol was rationed, to get the many bottles of jam and pickles, flowers, vegetables and other saleable things to sell at fetes, my husband, son and daughter used to help me carry these things in galvanised wash tubs from home to the hall. At one of our many fetes, Rev. Whyte said in his opening address that he heard one of his willing workers as they prepared their stalls that morning say “If there are church fetes when I get to Heaven I will come back!” (I am not saying just who it was that said that.) I could go on writing endlessly on all my wonderful memories through my years with St. John’s. I thjink for my 90 years of life this will do for me and end up by thanking God for my many years of worship and companionship with St. John’s and may it keep going under God’s guidance. I wish to thank every one who has helped me in many ways over my many years as we reach our Jubilee year. I am honoured to have the three front windows in the church porch dedicated to we three sisters who have been part of St. John’s since its foundation. (Mrs Margaret Dippel. 1986)


The ‘Toowoomba Chronicle and Darling Downs General Advertiser’ of Tuesday 10th September, 1878 reported as follows under the heading: Geham Presbyterian Church.

This church was opened for divine service on Sunday last, when sermons were preached in the morning by Rev. Mr. Carson and evening by Rev. Mr. Rathjen. The congregation was very large at each diet of worship, every available sitting being occupied. The church is situated in the centre of population, and is a great ornament to the township. It stands on an allotment of half an acre of ground presented by Mrs. Black of Geham. The collections amounted to a satisfactory sum, and this coupled with the fact of so rare an occurrence that the church is opened entirely free from debt, must be a subject of much congratulation to the Presbyterians of Geham. The opening services are to be continued on Thursday next by a soiree, at which, among other clergymen, the Rev. Dr. Nelson is expected to be present.

At that time the church was part of the Murphy’s Creek charge. Rev. Patterson held probably the first communion at Geham in June 1888. He was assisted by elders Alex Campbell and Robert Kerr. There is a record in 1901 of Geham choir presenting a whole service of song. On 25th April 1911 Joseph Jerrard and John C. Black were appointed elders of the Geham church. A congregational meeting was held on 30th September 1912. The meeting recommended that the charge be divided, making Geham and Ravensbourne join with Crows Nest as a separate Home Mission charge. Murphy’s Creek, Helidon and other districts below Helidon were to form another Home Mission charge. At about this time, Geham church asked for a refund of money contributed to building the manse at Murphy’s Creek. Needless to say, their request was refused.

Members of the Committee of Management in 1913 were: J. Jerrard (Chairman); J.C. Black, J. Adams, C. Jerrard and Rev. A.M. Martin. The first communion held at Geham, after it became part of the Crows Nest charge, was held on 16th July, 1916. Four new communicants were accepted, including Mary McWilliams, Anna Kahler, Joseph Philip Kahler and John Adams. Others who took part in communion were:- Elsie Florence Williams, Bessie Margaret Gilbert, Anna Matilda Black, Margaret Adams, Lucy Hamilton Jerrard, Mary A. Black and Evelyn Mary Jackson.

A Committee meeting in 1925 recorded with thanks the donation of a bible. The committee also purchase a lamp during 1925. Miss N. Kahler was sent a letter of thanks for her good work in the Sunday School. One of the pioneer members of the Geham Church, Mr. John Munro, died in May 1925. Mr. Munro was born in Argyleshire, Scotland in 1840. He arrived in Queensland in 1866 and first settled at Geham. Mr. Munro was also chairman of the Geham Church Committee for many years and came to live in Toowoomba in later life. The Munro family lost brother, sister, father and mother within a short time. Mrs. Munro, who died very soon after her husband, was a staunch supporter of the church, particularly at Geham.

The committee meeting of 14th November, 1925 made a number of decisions. They were:-

  • That the account of £1-10s-5d be paid for Sunday School books.
  • That the church be rebuilt.
  • That donations be sought for rebuilding.
  • Each committee member to donate £5.

Those present at the meeting were J.P. Kahler, J.G. Adams, F. Strack and Rev. Paull. Tenders were called for pulling down and rebuilding the church in March, 1926. The Toowoomba Chronicle and Darling Downs Gazette of 6th March 1926 reported:

This year we hope to see another church building to our credit. Arrangements are now well in hand for the dismantling and re-erection of our church at Geham. This work we are trusting will be completed in April, when the Ladies’ Guild are looking forward to a successful Sale of Work and Concern. Over £100 will probably be needed for the job, of which about £75 is now in hand. Mr. J.P. and Mrs. Kahler must be congratulated upon the amount of money collected by them.

Miss May Handley also collected for the rebuilding fund. Rev. A.M. Martin opened the church after renovations on Sunday 2nd May, 1926. There was only a £50 debt on the work. It is believe that Mr. T. Askin carried out the renovations at a total cost of £111-7s-9d. Mr McWilliams quote of £15 was accepted for painting the building. An organ was purchased in 1926 from Mr. Price for £27.

The Toowoomba Presbyterian” of June 1932 recorded the death of Mr. J.P. Kahler with regret:- “Geham Church and district has lost one of its finest men in the passing of the late Mr. Kahler. He was one of the pioneers of the district, and a very well known and respected man. He was a great strength to the Geham church, of which he was a member for many years. The late Mr. Kahler suffered much during his illness. Rev. A.M. Martin, a close friend of the late Mr. Kahler, visited him in the Hospital, and also conducted the funeral service at Cabarlah Cemetery…”

In February 1936, Rev. A.M. Martin, Interim Moderator, conducted communion at Geham. Those in attendance were Mr. and Mrs. J.G. Adams, Mr. and Mrs. H. Adams, Miss Gwen Adams, Mrs. Black, Marjorie Black, Archie Black, Mrs. J.P. Kahler, Mrs. F. Strack, Mr. P. Strack, Miss Mary Stract, Mr. and Mrs I. Kahler and Miss M. Adams.

Mrs Mary Ann Black died on 4th February 1935 aged 89 years. Mrs. Black was a lifetime member of the Geham Church. She left £50 as a legacy to this charge. A chain fence was erected around the church and a marble tablet placed inside in her memory.

The Presbyterian Annual Sports were held at Geham in 1939. Admission, including refreshments was 2/- for adults and 6d for children. Events included nail driving, egg and spoon race, throwing the broom, musical chairs and many other novelties.

During 1948 some 20 services were held at Geham. An amount of £14 was received from collections and £5 was donated. The Sunday School held a Christmas party for which they expended 14s on ice cream, 10s on sweets, 10s on balloons and 10s 6d on drinks. About the same time 28 pupils were enrolled at the Sunday School, with an average attendance of 12 children.

For a number of years in the 1950s Rev. Graham Skerman regularly visited Geham to take services. Both Mr. and Mrs. George Adams died on 21st July 1955. A double funeral was held and proceeded to the Cabarlah cemetery. In November 1965 Mr. Hugh Adams died. He was born at Cabarlah. He was very active in the Geham church when it was attached to Murphy’s Creek. In June 1977 the church became part of the East Toowoomba charge.


I wish to acknowledge with thanks the wonderful assistance of two very accomplished photographerswho took all the wonderful shots of St Stephen’s Uniting Church in Toowoomba. The photographers were Bob Bell of Oakey and Cindy Gorton of Toowoomba. I also want to thank Nola Robinson for checking the script as well as Rev. Andrew and Leah for their cooperation in allowing the two photographers to undertake their work.

John Clements

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