Saturday, 1 December 2012

16 December 2012, Carols at St Paul's

‘It’s Christmas’ ...

was the Church Choir’s theme anthem for St Paul’s Christmas Carols Service at 7pm on 16 December 2012

From the young solo voice for the opening processional carol of ‘Once in Royal David’s City’  in the ‘candle-glow’ of a hushed church, to the closing carol, proclaiming 'Hark! the herald angels sing glory to the new-born King', the congregation followed the familiar story of that first Christmas.

The tableau presentation made the ageless story come to life, as a young couple characterized Mary and Joseph with their real baby, children dressed as shepherds and sheep and young people took the roles of narrator and angel for the Bible readings. A chorus of young people added to the scene with their singing of ‘Baby Lying in a Manger’ and ‘Friendly Beasts’.

As the Christmas lights twinkled, the choir sang the Australian Christmas Carol ‘The Silver Stars’  in a setting of minimal illumination as ‘Mary’ soothed her little one to sleep.

With organ and piano accompaniment, the congregation sang many familiar carols, all woven sequentially into the story. ‘Silent Night’ was hummed to the gentle strum of a guitar as people moved forward to adorn the empty Christmas Tree with their small organza bags containing their offerings of silver or gold.

The church choir added to the overall atmposhere and effect by singing from different places in the church, and upon moving closer to the Nativity Scene with their ‘candles’ held high, they sang ‘Torches, torches, run with torches all the way to Bethlehem’.

One Elder was heard to say that there was only one word to describe the whole service - ‘heavenly’. One of those heavenly moments was the sound of the rich soprano voice singing ‘O Holy Night’. Another was the thought-provoking Appalachian Carol ‘I wonder as I wander out under the sky how Jesus the Saviour didst come for to die….’ We pondered on this in the darkness, knowing that Jesus came …. ‘for poor ordinary people like you and like I’ . As the song unfolded, the illumination increased and we all rose to joyfully sing ‘Unto Us a Boy is Born, King of all Creation!’ as the penultimate carol.

Yes Christmas comes round each year …… but what a celebration it is each time. We sing familiar carols, hear the Biblical account of the virgin birth and wonder with amazement, just as the shepherds did, how special the birth of this baby was, sent by God to be the Saviour of us all and for all time.

View St Paul's Presbyterian Church in a larger map

Saturday, 17 November 2012

17 November 2012, Men's and talk

Meet at the Men's Shed
9am - 11am

Tool talk!
Crafty creations!
Manipulating machines!
Meet the Master craftsman!

The relaxed band of men from St Paul’s expressed their sincere thanks to Graham, Janelle and the team from the STAFFORD BAPTIST MEN’S SHED for their generous spirit in hosting the morning especially for us and sharing a relaxed time of Christian fellowship.

Boys’ Toys at the Men’s Shed

While the lathes and wheels were a turning
The men watched on eagle eyed
Not a finger was lost, nor a cut sustained
And goggles protected the eyes.

From a chunk of wood a bowl was fashioned
The craftsman’s skill was on show
This was the cue to reflect on the Word
Of the Master Craftsman we’ve come to know.

‘The Touch of the Master’s Hand’ was narrated
To music on piano and violin.
And the call was put out to keep our hands busy
Using the talents that God has given.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

27 October 2012, What a spectacle...Wedding Spectacular!

 Wedding Spectacular

The church was full of expectant people, but not one was a groom.  On the afternoon of Saturday, 27th October, a large crowd of people gathered in St Paul’s Presbyterian Church, Spring Hill, to participate in a Wedding Spectacular.

Through the afternoon, the audience was treated to an exhibition of wedding gowns ranging in origin from 1905 though to 2012.  Some wedding gowns were modelled by their original wearers while many others were presented by a group of delightful models.  In previous weeks, there had been much fun in trying on various dresses and discovering just how personal the fit of a wedding dress can be.  It became quite apparent that people were smaller fifty years ago – tiny waists and wrists and not as tall as we are now.

The oldest gown in the parade from 1905
During the parade, we saw wedding gowns from mothers and daughters; from three generations of the same family; flower girls’ dresses modelled by that flower girl’s daughter, or niece; gowns sewn by the bride, by the bride’s mother and by designers.

The wedding gowns varied in style from ornate, embroidered, beaded gowns with trains and veils through fashion-of-the-era, to a simple woven-patterned shift created by a shopfront tailor in a couple of hours, the day before the wedding.

Accompanying the parade was a slide show of photos showing the bride in her dress on her special day, and often the whole bridal party. 

After each group of gowns was displayed, the models walked among the audience to allow a closer look, while music fit for a wedding was presented.  The Brisbane Concert Choir and their musical director Debra Shearer-DiriĆ©, performed beautiful choral pieces including Come Ye Sons of Art, Psalm 23, Alleluia, Ave Maria, and The Lord Bless You.  St Paul’s own organist Neil Taylor accompanied by Neil Roberts on trumpet gave us wonderful renditions of; Bridal March by Wagner;Trumpet Voluntaries by both John Stanley & Jeremiah Clarke; Purcell’s Trumpet Air; March in Scipio & Occasional Oratorio by Handel; and Mendelssohn's The Wedding March.   The audience even got in on the act, singing O Perfect Love & I'll Walk Beside You.

Our special guest at the Wedding Spectacular was Mark Foley CEO of Youngcare, who with attended with his wife.  Youngcare is the 2012 Mission Focus for St. Paul’s, and Christine Campbell was able to present Mark with a cheque as part of our contribution to the charity’s work.  
Mark told us about the aim of Youngcare, which is to provide a suitable place for young people with high care needs to live.  Many high needs young people are placed in aged care, where their physical needs can be met but which is unsuitable for the social and emotional needs.  Mark commented that viewing a whole range of wedding dresses was not how he usually spent a Saturday afternoon, but that he had enjoyed the parade very much. 

Once the parade was finished and the last strains of the Wedding March had faded away, the audience went outside to mingle – just as wedding guests do.  Many people spotted friends and faces from long ago, and did a bit of catching up.  Then it was time for tea!
A team of dedicated workers had created a high tea paradise in the hall:  tables were set with delicate fine china, and graced with morsels of delicious food on elegant platters and silver salvers.  The hall was a hubbub of conversation as everyone enjoyed their tea and discussed the magnificent demonstration of the art of the wedding gown.

When the participants began to head for home, it was undoubtedly with a feeling of peace and satisfaction after an afternoon well spent.  The many and varied people involved in organising and running the day had achieved a great success.  In revisiting weddings spanning a century, and music spanning even longer, we have celebrated the joy, the expectation, the wonder of the wedding ceremony, as well as the sincerity and solemnity of the ritual, and we have rejoiced in the institution which some say is disappearing but which clearly has great significance to the many who attended the spectacular Wedding Spectacular.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

19 August 2012, 149th Anniversary Thanksgiving Service and Harvest Festival

On Sunday, 19th August 2012, at 9.30am St Paul’s was vibrant with the fruit of the earth.  People were greeted on arrival with a wonderful sign made of fruit and vegetables, exhorting them to “Give Thanks”.  The dais was resplendent with produce and non-perishable goods, given with thanks for our good fortune and wealth of food.  During the service, we learned that the fresh produce will be used in the local community to supply those in need with nutritious food.  The non-perishables and monetary donations will be transported to St George where the Presbyterian Church will distribute them to people in need there.

The Right Reverend David Niven led the service, giving thanks for the earth’s bounty and dedicating the gifts.  The Sunday School children performed a poem called, “This is the World that God made”, illustrating the process by which we receive our daily bread. 

In acknowledgement of the 149th Anniversary of the church, Deaconess Dianne Parker presented the first of a series of cameos, which will be presented during the sesquicentennial celebration year.  We learned about the United Evangelical Church, which was founded by settlers who arrived on the Fortitude in 1849.  Although this church was disbanded, it played a part in the beginnings of our own church.

Chairperson of the Restoration Trust, Penny Floyd, told us about the achievements and plans of the Trust.  The bird-proofing of the bell tower is complete but there were rumours of repeat offenders which had to be followed up.  The tower remains secure.  Next in the plan has to do with making sure the tower is strong enough to withstand ringing the bell; and removing stone work which is in danger of falling.

Our service was beautified by the wonderful singing of “Accord”, the vocal ensemble from Somerville House, directed by Celia Mylne and accompanied by Carolyn Eisenmenger.  The girls’ performance was excellent and we thank them sincerely for their participation.

Following the sermon, in which Mr Niven encouraged us to “Praise the Lord, O my Soul”, the congregation enjoyed morning tea in the warm winter sunshine in the front yard of the church, while the children enjoyed Harvest Games.  They played Rob the Farmer, participated in Broom and Potato relays, an egg and spoon obstacle course, apple dunking, tug of war and apple bobbing.  It was hard to convince them to stop even after the adults had gone into the hall to enjoy a delicious lunch of homemade soup and bread rolls.

What a wonderful day it was.  With the weather reminding us how lucky we are to live in Queensland, and the bountiful produce reminding us how fortunate we are in Australia, it was only right that we praise God for his goodness and give thanks for his kindness.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Background to our Harvest Festival

August 2012

Harvest Festival

The modern British tradition of celebrating Harvest Festival in churches began in 1843. Hymns such as “We plough the fields and scatter”, “Come, ye thankful people, come”, “All things bright and beautiful” and also Dutch and German harvest hymns helped popularize the festival idea and spread the custom of decorating churches with home-grown produce for the Harvest Festival service.

Harvest is from the Anglo-Saxon word haverfest, “Autumn”. It then came to refer to the season for reaping and gathering grain and other grown products. An early Harvest Festival used to be celebrated at the beginning of the Harvest season on 1 August and was called Lammas meaning ‘loaf Mass’. Farmers made loaves of bread from the fresh wheat crop. These were given to the local church as the Communion bread during a special service thanking God for the harvest.

In the northern hemisphere, Autumn and August are closely aligned while for us here at this time of year, Spring is on its way and the crops of grain are only part way through their growth cycle with harvest being months away. Despite this, it was felt the essence of giving thanks for the productivity of the land and for all that we have would be a most appropriate theme for this year’s Anniversary service of Thanksgiving. It is also a significant way to mark the beginning of our twelve months of special activities leading up to celebrating the 150th anniversary of the congregation on 18th August 2013.

So to keep these customs alive, and also in recognition of 2012 being designated the ‘Year of the Farmer’, St Paul’s will be adorned with displays of fresh produce – fruit, vegetables, herbs, grains, bread, preserves, flowers – as well as pantry items and staples. The congregation is invited to also engage with this spirit of giving as there will be opportunity during the service to bring forward their own similar contributions.    

Now here’s the challenge! Families, couples, individuals are invited to create their own small display for the church – perhaps in a basket, a box, a vase, a sack, a wheelbarrow, a watering can, on a tiered plant stand, an old boot, on a mat or cloth ….. using artificial items, fresh goods, signs, Scripture verses or whatever your imagination takes fancy to. Displays would need to be placed in the church on the Saturday. If you would like to participate in this way, we’d love to hear from you.

If you wish to help, send an email to:

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Fascinating 150 Facts

Did you know.....

The first church building for St Paul's congregation was at the corner of Queen and Creek Streets

The original plans for the current church building included stables at the rear for horses and buggies

One of the early customs of parishioners was 'renting a seat'

The organ was originally positioned in the apse, behind the pulpit

Rev. Ron Pashen was the longest serving minister (31yrs) and 'home' was the Manse beside the church

Warship is often enriched by the Sunday School teachers and young people using their musical gifts

The next major project of the Restoration Trust is remedial work on the bell tower

Each Tuesday morning the Drop in Centre minister to the under-privileged in the area by providing Christian fellowship along with morning tea and lunch

St Paul's Care Group provides comfort, support and practical help for members who are ill, aged or have other needs

Monday, 7 May 2012

Logo for the 150th

Early 2012, the committee agreed to a dynamic family and congregationally oriented logo that depicts the combination of the church building and its family - the people!

Check it out....we love it!

If you love it as much as we do you may be interested in our souvenir items.

To purchase any of the souvenir items please contact us at

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Planning for 150th Birthday

St Paul’s Sesquicentenary 
150 years of Ministry

To be celebrated over the twelve months leading up to the 
Anniversary Service on 18th August 2013
in recognition of 150 years since the formation of the first congregation.

May 2012, the story so far ……..
A Steering Committee from within the congregation has been at work since September 2011. One of their first aims was to create a focus statement - one that recognises the achievements of the past, the life of the congregation in more recent times and importantly, a vision for the future of God’s people at St Paul’s.

St Paul’s Presbyterian Congregation, celebrating 150 years of God’s providence - 
then, now, and to come.

Much brainstorming of ideas led to the development of an exciting and varied program of activities, services and events for the twelve months from Anniversary Sunday this year to Anniversary Sunday next year on 18 August.

Currently …….
Small sub groups are focusing on their specific area of responsibility such as Ministry and special services, Youth, Events (including Music and Praise, Fun, Fellowship and Feasting), Historical, Souvenirs, Funding, Publicity and Wider Community. 

Looking forward …….
A pictorial calendar is being prepared listing the sesquicentennial events. Updates and amendments will appear on our website, and in our Church News. The celebrations begin with a Harvest Festival this year at 9:30am on 19 August, and the opportunity to share some of our bounty with those in need. In October, the Wedding Spectacular fundraiser will feature a parade of gowns of yesteryear, to the strains of organ, trumpet and choir, followed by High Tea.

Plans are also coming together for Fellowship Teas, Young People’s Outreach, Kirkin’ of the Tartan, Floral Art Workshop, Cathedrals’ Week, ‘Kirk on the Hill’ Quilting Challenge, Historical Walks, Displays and more.

Help needed ……
Having laid the foundations, the Steering Committee is now keen for the congregation to become involved and supportive. Spread the word, make contact with your networks, volunteer for tasks - big or small - but also pray that this vision becomes a reality, making this a worthy celebration for such a significant milestone.

What an exciting year it’s going to be! All praise to our God!