Rev Trevor Foote reminisces about the origins of the Uniting Church in the Ipswich area and how Glebe Road Uniting Church was born on the old grounds of the St John’s Presbyterian Church.
Church union in 1977 saw the initial formation in Ipswich of one of the largest and most diverse Uniting Church parishes in Queensland, and possibly Australia. Seven Methodist congregations, one Presbyterian church, one Congregational church and one Co-operative church came together to form the East Ipswich parish of the new Uniting Church in Australia.
The Methodist congregations were Bundamba, Dinmore, East Ipswich, Goodna, Newtown, Redbank Plains and Silkstone; the Presbyterian congregation was St John’s at Booval; the Congregational congregation was Blackstone, and the Co-operative congregation (where Presbyterian, Methodist and Congregational had already merged a couple of years previously) was Trinity, North Booval.
The inauguration service, held on 3 July 1977, for the new parish was held at Trinity North Booval: a combined choir presented the gospel musical Spirit to the delight of the over-flowing congregation.
There were five ministers: Rev Frank LeBherz (Congregational), Rev John McKillop (Presbyterian), Rev Ernie Jensen, Rev Les Tilse and myself (Methodists). We all worked harmoniously together with a dedicated and competent group of elders and leaders to form the first parish council.
In the previous year, I had attended a training seminar in Sydney to qualify to teach the intensive phase of the Bethel Bible Series of Adult Christian Education, and over the next six years and beyond, hundreds of the lay people of the parish completed both the Intensive and the Congregational phases of the series, training, equipping and empowering people for their ministries as lay preachers, worship leaders, youth leaders, Sunday School teachers, cell and home group leaders, etc.
The result of this training was that congregational life in all the Ipswich East Uniting Churches became focused on spiritual growth and dynamic worship which has continued to this day.
When Rev Dr Norma Spear succeeded me in 1981, Norma built on the foundation that was already laid down and continued expanding the training of adults in the parish, which was eventually split into smaller ones, several church buildings were sold, and some congregations combined so that today there is one congregation at North Booval, one at Glebe Road, Booval and one at St Ives, Goodna.
With the proceeds of the sale of the Silkstone and Newtown church buildings, it became possible for a new complex on Glebe Road to be constructed on the grounds of the old St John’s Presbyterian Church, which now houses the old Silkstone, Newtown and St John’s congregations. Three services are held each Sunday catering for different worship styles and several cell groups are operating.
Rev Trevor Foote