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70 years a minister – some kind of record

Rev Ellis Bramley is Queensland\'s oldest Uniting Church Minister

Queensland Uniting Church Minister Rev Ellis Bramley who is now 96 years old and still worships every Sunday at Chermside-Kedron Community Church will celebrate 70 years of ordination 28th February.

Ordained in 1938 Mr Bramely is still in remarkably good health, and looking forward to this milestone.  The Chermside-Kedron congregation is celebrating his anniversary as the focus of morning worship on Sunday 9th March at 9.00 am and the Moderator Rev Dr David Pitman will be the Guest Preacher.

Chermside-Kedron Uniting Church Minister Rev Glenn Mulcahy said it is not very often that UCA Ministers celebrate 70 years of ordination.  “I also learned that he received over 450 Christmas cards this last Christmas, such is the large range of friends he still keeps in touch with across Australia,” Mr Mulcahy said.

In December 2006 Journey published a story about Mr Bramley to celebrate his 95th birthday. This is the text of that story.

Possibly Queensland’s oldest Uniting Church minister Rev Ralph Ellis Bramley is still an active and energetic minister and enthusiast for life and the church.
Growing up at the Margaret Marr Memorial Home for Boys at Wynnum after the death of both parents before his 10th birthday Mr Bramley was converted at 16 and convinced of a call to ministry commenced his preparation for the Local Preacher’s Examination.

He was accepted for Home Missionary training at 18 years, as a candidate for the ministry at 21, ordained at 27 and amazingly had retired from ministry before Church Union.

Nephew, Tom Bryant, said he thought that “I’ve been everywhere man” should be Ellis’ theme song, because he really has been.

“I doubt if any other minister has served in as many places as he has been able to do.”

Although trained as a French polisher with just a few days of training at the Brisbane Dental Hospital, Mr Bramley also performed some amateur dentistry during his time in the outback.

“One time on Yampi Sound I was asked if I pulled out teeth. I asked, ‘Which one?’

“He said, ‘The lot, so that I can get a full set in Perth.'”

He also helped out with haircuts.

“I said that we couldn’t have it in the dental surgery but in the hairdressing salon, so we moved up to the other end of the log.

With an ever-present smiling face and weathered hands Mr Bramley still works with wood as a hobby.

“Over the years I have found that being a French polisher has been very useful in building pulpits, setting up worship centres or making furniture – mostly for friends.”
Mr Bryant said, “All over Queensland there are families with beautifully restored pieces of furniture, lovingly pulled to pieces, reassembled or new pieces constructed, and holding pride of place in their homes.

“Some pieces were only fit for the garbage and it is astounding how this artisan can re-create beauty from rubbish.”

He also brought beauty to the lives of many he served.

One legendary story tells of a young couple he was about to marry not having wedding rings.

Mr Bramley dashed home and returned to perform the service with two shower curtain rings.

Since his retirement the indefatigable Mr Bramley has served in 28 supply ministry appointments and credits his multiple heart by-pass seven years ago for a new lease of life.

Humble as always Rev Ellis Bramley is still preaching and looks fit enough to be doing it at 100.

“Ministry has been a great opportunity to serve my Lord and Master according to my capabilities without striving to be a renowned Minister of the Word,” he said.

“I have made many friends over the years and offer my thanks to God for his continued grace.”

Photo : Rev Ellis Bramley is Queensland\’s oldest Uniting Church Minister