In 1878, Toowong was a small collection of estates, forming a western village to the township of Brisbane. Dirt roads connected the two hotels (the Regatta and the Railway Hotel), a small state school, a handful of shops and a railway station on the Brisbane-Indooroopilly line. Land was progressively being cleared for small acreage blocks as settlers pushed the boundaries of Brisbane Town further into the bush.
Forward-thinking members of the Albert Street Methodist Church purchased land in Toowong for £60 as the potential site of a Wesleyan Church and in 1879 a building was erected for £200. On 30th November of the same year, the first Methodist service was held. Each Sunday an accredited local preacher from the Albert Street Church would travel on horseback to conduct morning worship.
Several years later, on the 4th November 1885 there appeared in the Moreton Bay Courier the following notice: All persons interested in the commencement of Presbyterian Services or a Sunday School in TOOWONG, are requested to attend a MEETING to be held in the Oddfellows’ Hall there TOMORROW (THURSDAY) EVENING at 8 o’clock.
Twenty-five people gathered by the light of kerosene lamps on the 5th November under the supervision of Rev D.F. Mitchell (from South Brisbane) and Toowong Presbyterian history commenced. In 1886, 32 perches of land was purchased from Mr Charles Patterson (of Patterson’s Sawmill and the first Mayor of Toowong) in Sherwood Road and construction of a church building began. In 1887, the Presbytery of Brisbane, meeting in Ann St Presbyterian Church ordered that Toowong be added to the roll of sanctioned charges. The Rev Richard Kerr was called as the first minister.
Members of both these churches became essential to the fabric of the Toowong community and the congregations were active in serving their local neighbourhoods. As the churches grew, numerous new congregations were planted from Toowong in the suburbs St Lucia, Bardon, Rainworth, Auchenflower, Paddington and Taringa. The desire to serve the local community also found expression in the establishment of two child-care facilities: the Toowong Child Care centre (the oldest continuously running child care centre in Brisbane) and Jahjumbeen (the only occasional care centre serving Brisbane’s Western Suburbs).
Positive relationships prevailed between the congregations, resulting in the positive experience of combining of the congregations when the Uniting Church was formed in 1977. At the time of Union, the congregations were already working collaboratively through some combined services and the provision of a joint Sunday School for their young people. The congregations eventually settled together into the former Presbyterian building (which had been significantly rebuilt on its current site, across the road from the original church, in Sherwood Road in 1960).
Several decades of massive social change in the surrounding suburb resulted in the church slowly declining from the time of Union, progressively closing Rainworth and Bardon Uniting Churches which were part of the Toowong Parish. Through this period the congregation continued to serve faithfully and generously, sponsoring TEA Party (Toowong Early Adults), an intentional Christian community for young adults in the area which ran for several years.
In recent years, with a focus on prayer and mission, the congregation has again begun to grow and serve the local community in new ways. It has been exciting to watch as the Holy Spirit has led many people to encounter Christ for the first time or re-engage the faith after many years away from the church. We look forward to participating in the church’s next chapters.