Toowoomba Region

Ecumenism in the south west of the State comes under the banners of Toowoomba Churches Together and Downs Churches Together.

The second annual Ecumenical Retreat was held in February 2005 at the James Byrne Retreat Centre, Toowoomba. Bishop Richard Appleby (Anglican and, at that time President of Queensland Churches Together) and Glenine Hamlyn (General Secretary of QCT) were guest presenters.

The annual Toowoomba Heads of Churches meeting took place on 4 June. Margaret Naylon, of the Brisbane Roman Catholic Commission for Ecumenism and Interfaith Relations spoke on the most recent ecumenical advances, in particular the NCCA Covenant. Two members of the Buddhist Pure Land Learning College, Toowoomba attended and shared something of their story. Also, representatives of the local Christian Family Radio Station explained their philosophy and aims.

Saturday 4 June was also the date for the “Glennie Memorial Dinner”, another annual event honouring the late Rev Benjamin Glennie, a pioneer ecumenist in Toowoomba. This is both a social and fund-raising event. Della Lopez of Stanley River was the very entertaining guest speaker who told the story of the development of their local covenant, which brings together into one Pastoral Council people from the Anglican, Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Uniting Churches.

Services continue to be held at the James Byrne Centre in Toowoomba on the first Sunday of the month to pray for Christian Unity. The various denominations are on roster to prepare and lead this prayer.

A Heads of Church (Anglican, Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Uniting) meeting took place at Charleville on 9 July. These gatherings had been held in the past but had lapsed in recent years. Over thirty people from Charleville and Cunnamulla were present. The Charleville people moved to form a local ecumenical pastoral council; and the Cunnamulla representatives indicated a willingness to host a similar Heads of Church day next year.

More recently, Bishops Morris (Catholic) and Nolan (Anglican), together with Rev Peter Hall (representing UCA) met in Injune on 11 November. This was to discuss an initiative of the local community regarding church property. It was felt that three church buildings in the town were too many so the Uniting Church has been sold, the Catholic Church is on the market and the three communities will use the Anglican Church building. Church authorities have been asked to look at the legal and other implications of joint ownership of the property. There is a feeling in the area that it is time to grapple with some of the more difficult questions of ecumenical co-operation.

The following day the heads of Churches met in Roma with representatives from Mitchell, St George, Surat, Wallumbilla. This is an annual gathering to provide opportunity to discuss local ecumenical issues.