Saturday 25th April marked the 140th anniversary of the Redland Bay Uniting Church (previously the Redland Bay Methodist Church) but due to the COVID-19 pandemic there were no celebrations held on that weekend. Celebrations will be held when they are permitted but in the meantime the Redland Bay Uniting Church has compiled some snippets of its early history and some memories as recalled by Edward Bunker, a lifelong member of the church.
On 25 April 2020 the Redland Bay Uniting Church celebrated its 140th anniversary but due to COVID-19 restrictions celebrations have been postponed to a future date; Uniting Church Assembly President Dr Deidre Palmer who was to officiate the event, has promised to come and celebrate with us when we are able to gather together again.
Our Uniting Church had its first church meeting on 25April 1880. On that day, Rev Kidston travelled on horseback from the mother Methodist Church in Kangaroo Point Brisbane to conduct the first service. This service was held in the ballroom of the Plantation House on the Dart property at Redland Bay (the present site of the Redland Bay Hotel). It took all day to travel along the rough bush tracks from Kangaroo Point to Redland Bay.
Many folk joined together in the first service, which was held in the evening after a light meal. In the early days the Dart family were very supportive in the establishment of the church in Redland Bay, and services were held as often as possible in their home.
All attendees at these early meetings were keen on building their own church, so, after the Darts gave the land on which our church stands, there was a big fundraising effort, and the church building was erected with the opening on 17 March 1885.
It should be noted that this church was the first church in Redland Bay and opened essentially free of debt. The first church had shingles on the roof which one can still see on some of images on our Facebook page. They were imported from England and were English oak. As a matter of interest the first secretary of the new church, Mr P.P. Outridge also gave some land for a state school to be established at Redland Bay. It opened at almost the same time as the church.
Many letters were received when we celebrated our centenary in 1980. One was a letter from 99-year-old Brian Liddle, the son of one of the very first ministers appointed to the pulpit. He spoke of travelling from Brisbane by horse and sulky with his father. He described the fields of sugar cane waving in the wind and the Pacific Islanders working the fields of pineapples and other crops. He was very appreciative of the cooking of Mrs James Moore, especially the sweet meats, and spoke of the keen congregation of faithful people who met at Redland Bay for services.
A Sunday school was quickly established and among the teachers were daughters of the Dart and Outridge Families. In my childhood the Sunday school grew to nearly a 100 pupils. When I was teaching Sunday school we had many fun times. Sunday school picnics became overall church picnics with almost all ages participating. The kids came in the local carrier’s trucks and later on in buses to places like Tambourine, Wellington Point and Cleveland.
Many things have happened since those days to draw folk away from regular or indeed any church attendance; it is a sign of modern times and this change has happened so quickly.
We would love to know what we can do to change people’s minds, to bring them back to the fold. Church attendance is so important to everyday living. As we think about the future, we are concerned about and pray for churches all over Australia and indeed worldwide.
It is beyond my feeble mind but with God’s grace and guidance we will continue to do our best.
May God bless you all as we celebrate 140 great years of worship and service here in our little church at Redland Bay.