The present Albert Street Church building was opened in 1889, but the history of its people goes back to when the first Methodist congregation met in Brisbane in 1847. This church was regarded as the mother of Queensland Methodism and has been the scene of many historic events. Among these were state and national conferences of the Methodist church, and the ordination of its Ministers.
(Image from "The Church on the Square" by F.R.Smith, 1989)
The first Methodist church in Brisbane was built by John Petrie, the first Mayor of Brisbane town, and was opened on March 10, 1849, on the corner of Albert Street and Burnett Lane, where the Commonwealth Bank now stands. This was a plain rectangular brick building, quite small, and the congregation soon outgrew it.
(Image from "The Church on the Square", by F.R.Smith, 1989)
The second Methodist church was built in 1856 on the same site as the first by a Mr Jeays. Frederick Richard (Dick) Smith in his book, “The Church on the Square: A History of the Albert Street Church”, notes that Mr Jeays was also the builder of Parliament House in George Street. The second church cost £2667 and was 80 feet long, 40 feet wide and could accommodate 500 people seated. It was approximately twice the size of the original. The building style was Gothic Revival with a wooden shingle roof and its stained glass windows were created by a Mr Murray. The original wooden pews from the first church were reused in this building, along with additional pews made specifically for the new building. The opening service was held on 6 December 1856.
In 1877, the second church was extensively renovated and additions such as a new school room facing Adelaide Street were built. It was reopened in 1878 with a gallery added to increase the seating capacity and the wooden shingles changed to slate to reduce the fire hazard. Smith notes that decorative iron railing was used to separate the sanctuary and in front of the new gallery. A pipe organ, made by Mr James Cole of Manchester, England, was installed and had 17 stops and 622 pipes costing £350.
Before long the congregation outgrew the second church building and land was purchased in 1884 on the corner of Albert and Ann Streets from the Masonic Lodge. The second church building and land were sold in 1888 for £25,000 and the organ was relocated to St Thomas’ Anglican Church in North Ipswich. A design competition was held for the new church building and was won by the firm of Messrs. Oakden, Addison and Kemp who had offices in both Melbourne and Brisbane. The chief architect was George Henry Male Addison, a prominent architect of the day.
The work on the new church began in 1888 and was completed by late 1889. The church was opened on 8 November, 1889 by Lady Norman, the wife of the Governor of Queensland Sir Henry Norman. The dedication sermon was given by Rev JH Fletcher who was the Church’s minister at the time of the second building. While the graceful spire captured the local newspaper reporter’s eye, the size and height of the pulpit was criticised for hiding the choir gallery. The decision to have such a prominent pulpit is thought to reflect the importance given to preaching in the Methodist tradition.
Since 1847, the mission to the wider community has always been at the heart of the Albert Street Church and was formalised in 1907 with the creation of the Central Methodist Mission.
“The Central Methodist Mission [was] constituted by the Annual Conference of the Methodist Church of Queensland for the purpose of Divine Worship according to the ordinances of the Methodist Church, establishing charitable institutions and engaging in a ministry of social service irrespective of ages, class or creed.” – extract from F.R Smith’s The Church on the Square.
From there it has grown into an organisation serving the whole state of Queensland and employing over 2500 people with 1500 volunteers. This was reflected in the name change to Wesley Mission Queensland in 2016. For more information on the history of the Wesley Mission Queensland and what we do today, you can read more about the organisation here.
In 1977, Albert Street joined with other Methodist churches, the Congregational Union in Australia, and Presbyterian churches to form the Uniting Church in Australia. This event lead to the name change to Wesley Central Mission in the Uniting Church. For further information about the Union of Churches please visit the Uniting Church Queensland website .
Even as Wesley Mission Queensland has grown, Albert Street Uniting Church remains at its spiritual heart. Join us any Sunday at 9am and 11am to participate in our ongoing commitment to the mission of God towards reconciliation, transformation, justice and hope for all people.
(Image by John Gollings of the Albert Street Uniting Church from the Brisbane City Council Clock Tower)
Since 1906 when Dr George Rowe, Minister, introduced Sisters of the People to assist the poor, sick and needy in city and suburbs.
1888 – 1892
Rev Henry Youngman DD
1892 – 1895
Rev Arthur Webb
1895 – 1898
Rev Joseph Bowes
1899 – 1902
Rev C E James
1902 - 1906
Rev Joseph Snell
1906 – 1926
Rev Dr George Rowe, DD VD
1927 – 1952
Rev H M Wheller OBE
1952 – 1976
Rev George Nash OBE BA
1976 – 1994
Rev Ray Hunt OBE M M.Div
1994 – 2000
Rev Dr Bill Adams B.A, BD, Ph.D
2000 – 2005
Rev Dr David Pitman B.A, B.D, Ph.D, Dip.Ed
2006 – 2018
Rev Lyn Burden, B.Sc(Ed), B.Ed, B.Th, M.Ed, M.Th.
(Image c.1914 –1918 of Albert Street Church and adjacent Albert Hall)
In 1901, Albert Hall was built alongside the church for a cost of £2700 and opened by Sir Samuel Walker Griffith on 28th September of the same year. It was used for Sunday School and other church purposes as well as a popular venue for concerts, plays and recitals. It was demolished in 1969 to make way for the new S.G.I.O building (now Suncorp). The funds from the sale went towards urgent renovations in the church.