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A Church Service at Sea in WW2
A Church Service at Sea in WW2

The dream of two brothers becomes a reality – The Alcorn Foundation, helping the next generation to achieve their dreams.

By Vanessa Griffiths, Fundraising Support Manager – Church Enterprise Development

This is the amazing story of one man’s dream to serve his community and create a legacy that, thanks to the Alcorn Trust, lives on today.

Cyril David Alcorn was born in 1911 in Ipswich.  He attended Brisbane state schools and then went to Teacher Training College. He was so incredibly passionate about his calling that he even lived in a tent on the school grounds, so he could afford to save the money for his theological studies.  He was ordained in March 1941.

He married Joyce Carmichael on 29 March 1941, the couple intended to go to India as missionaries, but World War II meant that Cyril’s life was about to make a dramatic turn.  He was to replace land with sea and enter the world of a navy chaplain on HMAS Shropshire (1944-45).  

Imagine standing on the bow of a ship during World War II, not knowing what the day would bring and praying for the safekeeping of all your shipmates.

Cyril’s dreams extended beyond his ministerial role.  He was passionate about the education of future ministers, and his dream was to open a college. While he was stationed in Darwin, he met Rev Arch Grant, and they worked together to set up United Church in Northern Australia. In 1947 his dream become a reality as he became the Principal of Blackheath and Thornburgh Colleges at Charters Towers, North Queensland.  He continued to work on improving the property and added a new course in agriculture and home science which his wife Joyce ran. In 1956 he became Senior Naval Chaplain at the Port of Brisbane and received a degree in Divinity in 1958. 

His lifelong journey of education did not end there; with his brother Ivan in 1960, he established the Methodist Training College and Bible School at Kangaroo Point. In 1976 this College was then named Alcorn College in recognition of the lifetime dedication of the Alcorn brothers.

Ivan became a missionary in 1934 and used horses as his transport to access far-flung places.   He received a licentiate of theology in 1940 and was equally committed to providing educational opportunities for new ministers. He married Iris Sarah Simpson in 1941 and then served as a chaplain in the Australian Imperial Force.  Ivan went on to lead a distinguished career in Christian stewardship and gained the accolades of ‘Queensland Father of the Year” in 1969 and an MBE in 1972.

The brothers had strikingly similar careers, but whereas Cyril was a teacher, scholarly and thoughtful, Ivan was a lively visionary and an inspirer of action.

The Alcorn Fellowship Trust was established in 1972 in memory of these amazing brothers and to commemorate their work and continue their work.  The Trust commemorates and continues the life work of the late Cyril David Alcorn, Methodist Minister, who died on 15th May 1972 and of his brother, the late Ivan Wells Alcorn, Methodist Minister, who died on the 28th of September 1972. 

The objectives of the Trust are to:

  • assist persons to become followers of Christ and to prepare Christian persons for service in The Uniting Church in Australia, of which the former Methodist Church now forms part,
  • to provide funds for fellowships, scholarships or grants for the purpose of the Trust,
  • to subscribe to and cooperate with any association or organisation, whether incorporated or not, whose objects are altogether or in part similar to those of the Trust,
  • to make donations for religious or charitable purposes, and
  • to do all such other things as are incidental to or consistent with the attainment of the objects of the Trust.

The Trust upholds the importance of lay and ordained membership on the Committee to be consistent with the vision of the Alcorn brothers in equipping people for ministry and providing ongoing Christian education and training. The Trust also provides grants for lay and ordained persons.

Get involved! 

  • Those interested in applying for a grant will find an application form and guidelines for information of applicants and other information on the Board of Christian Formation website. For further information, email Kathy.Brown@ucaqld.com.au
  • If you would like to donate to the Alcorn Fellowship Trust or be a part of the Alcorn Fellowship Trust Committee, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Kathy.Brown@ucaqld.com.au.

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