German Baptist Churches in Queensland
This historic account of the German Baptist Churches of Queensland is taken from Queensland Baptist Jubilee Record Volume 1855-1905, (Brisbane: W.R. Smith & Co, 1906) edited by William Higlett (who was well acquainted with and supportive of these churches). It gives a good picture of this unique group of churches up to 1905.
Since that time, the churches grew strongly and then gradually dropped their use of the German language as they moved into full fellowship with the Baptist Union of Queensland, where they have become loyal and hardworking members, supplying a large number of leaders, officers, ministers and members to the church at large. Demographic and other socio-economic changes in the farming areas they served have meant that some of the churches have now closed.
Their history has been partially written up, but a great deal of work remains to be done yet before there is a full record and understanding of their life and witness.
The first German Baptist churches in Queensland owe their origin to a considerable influx of German immigrants in the [eighteen] “sixties.” There were no ministers to labour among them, but the faithful testimony of such men as H. Falkenhager, C. Lamprecht and C. Dahn led to many conversions and baptisms, and to the formation of churches at Zillman’s Waterholes (now Zillmere), and Logan. As land opened for settlement elsewhere a considerable exodus took place, and eventually these churches became extinct. Mr. H. Falkenhager removed to the Brisbane River, and there at Vernor a church was formed in 1869, now known as the Lowood church.[later it moved to Tarampa.]
Several German Baptist families settled at Normanby Reserve (now Harrisville) in 1868, and there, in March, 1871, a church was formed, with Mr. W. Peters as pastor. This church was associated with the Ipswich Baptist church, then under Rev. T.S. Gerrard. An exodus again took place to Mount Walker, Black Flat and Engelsburg. For some time Mount Walker was the headquarters or centre of the German Baptist churches, but in time this shifted to Engelsburg. For many years now this has been numerically the strongest of the churches, with some 200 members. It has been ministered to by Pastors W. Peters, H. Windolf and Carl Krueger; who has held that position since 1886. Mount Walker is now a preaching station of Engelsburg together with Boonah and Schneider’s Road.
In 1871 a church was formed at Marburg (then known as Rosewood Scrub), and was ministered to by Brethren C. Dahn, C. Lamprecht, C. Arndt and others. From 1879 to 1883, Rev. H. Windolf settled at Marburg, taking also the oversight of the Lowood Church. In 1885 Pastor M. Bernoth arrived from Germany, but resigned after a short term of service. After numerous vicissitudes, and a division, resulting in the erection of a second building in the township, the church is again united, and worships in a new building erected in 1905, under the ministry Pastor H. Windolf.
At Minden a church was formed in 1879, and at first was under the oversight of Mr. J. Schultz, after which, for several years, Mr. August Schmidt served as pastor. Since then Brethren J. H. Hauschildt and J. Bischoff have rendered faithful service.
In 1895 a church was formed at Blenheim, with C. Muetzelburg as leader, and is now under the care of Rev. Otto Krueger, together with Tent Hill.
For several years the churches at Engelsburg, Minden and Marburg were affiliated with the English-speaking churches in the Baptist Association of Queensland. The need of trained ministers was often felt, and unsuccessful attempts were made to obtain one through the Association. Ultimately the churches at Marburg, Minden, Lowood and Blenheim united for the purpose, and in 1900 Pastor S. Blum arrived from the United States, and settled at Minden, where a manse was erected by the joint effort of those churches. Mr. Blum’s arrival marks a new epoch in the history of the German Baptist churches. At different times the churches had ceased their connection with the Baptist Association, and Pastor Blum was instrumental in forming them all into a Union upon a constitutional basis, and under the name of the Conference of German Baptist Churches in Queensland. A new church was formed at Tent Hill, and Pastor Otto Krueger was called and settled at Blenheim, where also a manse was erected by joint effort. Owing to a breakdown of health, Pastor Blum returned to America in 1902, leaving Pastor O. E. Krueger to supervise the five churches. Since 1904, Pastor Windolf has resumed charge at Marburg.
The six churches, with several preaching stations and three pastors, are now working harmoniously, and, though without official connection, are in close fraternal relation with the Baptist Association, representatives generally visiting the annual meetings of each body. The total membership is about 550, and, during the year 1905, a gracious revival led to no less than 75 baptisms.
• Churches closed – Mt Walker/Coleyville; Marburg; Vernor/Lowood/Tarampa.
• Blenheim church moved to Laidley
• The name of Engelsburg township (and consequently the church which celebrates 125 years of service in August 2000) was changed to Kalbar during World War I.
• Several of these churches have their own cemeteries (unusual for Queensland churches) now all closed; the Baptist Historical Society of Queensland has published listings of the monumental inscriptions.
German Baptist Ministers (including lay pastors):
Bernoth, Michael (from Germany)
Blum, Samuel (from USA)
Heinrich, Johannes (from USA)
Kruger, Otto Edward, DD (from USA)
Orthner, Franz (from USA)
Schneider, Johann George (from Germany)
Windolf, Friedrich Wilhelm Hermann (from Germany)
One of the large baptismal services that took place in German Baptist Churches in rural south-east Queensland