“We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history.” -Life Sketches, p. 196.
The South Brisbane Seventh-day Adventist Church was formally organized in 1898. Prior to this date groups of believers met in private homes. Early Colporteurs and Literature Evangelists had tremendous impact on Church growth during the 1880's and 1890's as they worked the vast 'Queensland Mission Field' as it was then known. A newspaper extract dated 14th October 1898 reported "approximately 175 SDAs living in Queensland". A mere 30 or so believer formed the South Brisbane S.D.A. Church.
October 13-21, 1898 saw the first S.D.A. Camp Meeting in Queensland at Logan Road, Woolloongabba. It was organised with all possible conveniences of the time, including electric light, a store, kitchen, large meeting tent comfortably furnished, an organ and speaker's platform. About 100 stayed at camp and meetings attracted gatherings of 1,000 to 3,000. The principle speakers were Ms. E.G. White (who stayed at the home of Bro. and Sr. S.N.Haskell whilst in Brisbane), W.E. White, Pastor A.G. Daniells, S.N. Haskell, T.Wilson (who sadly died shortly afterwards), J.Pallant and T.Whittle.
During the camp, Sister White had a vision concerning the South Brisbane church, relating to the best ways of presenting the message, how to follow u the work and to expand the mission in Queensland. She wrote to 'Dear Son Edson' and to Dr. Kellogg that it was "one of the most successful Camp Meetings that has ever been held in the colonies." She expressed concern that "the rains are coming, making it impossible to use the tent" and noted that "land has been purchased and some donations made. If they can get 100 pounds they expect Bro. Sisley can raise for them, in about six weeks, a humble church, furnished and painted on the outside, but not fully furnished on the inside. 100 pounds was sent to Brisbane as a donation from me as the Lord's steward".
Thus, work on the first S.D.A. Church in Queensland at Church Street, Buranda commenced and the church was completed and first used on March 18th 1899. The formal dedication service took place on April 1st of that year. Seventy people attended Sabbath School that joyous morning as Superintendent J.W.Turner gave the welcome. The opening hymn was number 21 (from "Christ in Song"), 'Singing As We Journey'. Pr. Haskell took the prayer and conducted the lesson based on Matthew 1 and Luke 2. Secretary C.A.Bonney recorded, "such a nice little church completed, where we can come and meet for worship to the praise and give glory to God".
A church school comprising of 20 pupils was opened at the rear of South Brisbane church in 1914. The first teacher was Sis. Williams. The following year saw the purchase of a building opposite the church for the school which sadly closed in 1926 due to costs and increasing government requirements.
The annual Camp Meeting was a big event in the lives of S.D.A.s --- especially for isolated country believers. Camp equipment was stored in a shed at South Brisbane for many years, commencing in 1911.
Church records up to and including the 30's reveal organisational activity and growth resulting in a well-structured working church with all of it's institutions and department well in place. These included Sabbath School for all age groups, Prayer Meetings, Ordinances, Baptisms, Youth Services, Annual Camps, Radio Programs, Temperance League Support, expansion by ways of Branch Sabbath Schools, and new churches raised. Welfare (Dorcas) was active, a library established, social events and outreach through Publishing House items were organised as was the Annual Appeal for Missions (now the ADRA Appeal).
In 1931 the new "Advent Hymnal" replaced "Christ in Song". The one copy with music was so precious it was attached to the organ by a chain. During the Great Depression, and in time of bushfires, flood, cyclones and other disasters, the Church answered the call to help the needy. In the 40's war work - "Haversacks for Soldiers" was engaged in, also collected for "Food for Britain" appeal at the end of World War II.
On 2nd April 1949 South Brisbane celebrated it's Golden Jubilee, Pastor C.H. Watson was the guest speaker. Church membership was 150.
The first record of an Ethnic S.D.A. Group was on 24th February, 1952 went he church was granted to "Russian Brethren" on Sabbath afternoons to conduct their own services. South Brisbane still retains a very happy Russian connection through the work in recent times of Church emissaries to that vat Russian Mission field. Since 1952 the Church has been further greatly blessed and enriched by the increase of its members from many different racial and cultural backgrounds.
The buoyant expansion years of the 50's resulted in a need for a larger Church building, thus on 14th ay 1960 it was voted to purchase land at 34 O'Keefe Street, Buranda, where we are now located, and to sell the existing Church, to be vacated in six months, for $3,400. A Baptist Church stood on the premises and it was relocated to the corner of Creek Road and Grey Street Carina and is now a Brethren Church.
The new Church Hall was built and available for the first Sabbath Services by Pr. Carl Raphael on 29th April, 1961 with a thanksgiving church tea the same evening. Membership was 180. Fund raising for the new Church included regular offerings, pledges, street stalls, social events, hiring out the hall and catering.
The official Opening Dedication of the new Church took place at 3.00 pm on 9th June, 1963 by President Pr. Parmenter. Pr. Raphael took the service on the theme "How Clear is Our Vision" and the Albion Church Choir provided the musical programme. David Boyle was the first baby to be dedicated in the "new church".
In 1974 the house next door where the hall and car-park now stand was purchased. During the next 25 years membership grew to 381 in 1984. It is possible although there are no official statistics on this, that some of that growth was due to the outreach programmes run by Paster Billy Baines and others. It was time for many to consider spreading their wings consequently we spawned three churches: Mt. Gravatt, Springwood and Logan.
The various departments enlarged their activities particularly in the area of communications - Radio, TV, Film, Recording (Cassettes), Video Missions and Services to the blind. Support was given for a number of Evangelical Missions and small group Bible studies, special events, expansion of Welfare Services, Health Programmes, Seminars and Training Courses, together with continued support for the Retirement Village and College.
The 90's saw the upgrade and refurbishment of the Church buildings including the blessing of air-condition, the objection, by the way, to that was "why would you want to spend all that money on air-conditioning to be used for just 2 hours a week". Fortunately the aye's got the vote.
Moving into the 21st Century, our church continues to be part of the global church family and responded to calls to spread the gospel message in the mission fields and our surrounding community. Our church has recently spawned the Korean Group and African Group and provides continual support for them. Our local community area has changed, cut by new roads, overpasses and city tunnels, to cope with the population growth and demands for better transport. Our youth are pivotal to the continuing growth and strength of our church as our Lord's return draws near.