The Early 1920s

A soldier settlement scheme established in The Gap after the First World War saw a building for church services and other activities constructed in the early 1920s – initially with the support of the Church of England Parish of Grovely.

Later, it became the responsibility of the Soldiers Church of England Help Society whose Director Canon David Garland was Rector of Ithaca Parish that extended from Red Hill through Ashgrove to The Gap.

A Sunday school began and the “church hall” also was used for many community social activities. In the mid-1920s it was removed from its original site in Settlement Road to a more convenient one in Waterworks Road.

Post WWII Development

After the Second World War suburban development began to take over the largely uneconomic small farm holdings and during the 1950s there was an increasing need for Sunday school and church services. In 1959, when Canon George Gibson was Rector of Ithaca, the hall was relocated again — this time to its present site in Kullaroo Street. It was a multipurpose building and was given the name of St Mark’s at its dedication in August 1959. A second similar building, the Church of the Good Shepherd, was established at Firhill Street, St Johns Wood in the late 1950s.

During the 1960s the suburb of The Gap continued to expand as many couples with young children established their first homes in the area. The Sunday schools at both St Mark’s and the Good Shepherd had many more pupils than there were facilities or teachers to meet their needs. Innovations included children’s vacation clubs and outreach to parents through special family services.

The existing Parish Centre was acquired in late 1966 as a home for the first resident minister, Rev. Geoffrey Paxton. He was followed a couple of years later by Rev. Cliff Brown. In 1970 The Gap and St Johns Wood became a separate parochial district and attained parish status two years later. Cliff Brown was the first Rector.

Families and Diverse Christian Experiences

The people of The Gap area were a mixture of long established residents and an increasing number of families with children. There was a wide range of occupations represented in the community and also a diversity of Christian experiences within the church. Both evangelical and anglocatholic clergy had ministered at St Mark’s and in the early 1970s the charismatic movement was embraced by a number of members including the Rector.

In 1974 Canon Jim Glennon, a leading charismatic minister from Sydney, led a healing mission at St Mark’s. While the charismatic movement drew together some members from different traditions, it also alienated others.

In 1975 Rev Doug Bartholomeusz became Rector of The Gap with the twin tasks of uniting the very diverse elements within the congregations and providing a more suitable church building for the increasing numbers of worshipers.

New St Mark’s Church Built

The present St Mark’s church building was designed by architect Neville Lund, then a member of St Mark’s congregation, to meet the parish’s requirements for a modern, practical building with movable furniture and low maintenance needs.

It was opened in 1978. Subsequently declining support for the Church of the Good Shepherd led to its closing in late 1985 and its subsequent sale to the Baptist Church. The funds received from this sale were used to purchase the present rectory.

Cursillo and Bible-based Teaching

During the 1980s Rev Bruce Worthington, then Rector of The Gap, was one of the instigators of the Cursillo movement in Brisbane and many members of St Mark’s have both benefited from and been involved with Cursillo within and beyond the Brisbane diocese. At this time home groups were established and the Sunday preaching ministry became strongly focussed on biblical teaching.

This Bible based ministry has been continued by Rev Ron Bundy, together with an emphasis on outreach through the Alpha course and also during the late 1990s various community related activities initiated by part time Church Army evangelist, Sr. Lyn Bullard. A less formal evening service was established and meets on Sundays at 6 p.m.

In keeping with a modern non-traditional church building, St Mark’s congregation has used modern liturgies since the early 1970s. Currently “A Prayer Book for Australia” is used for services on Sunday and Wednesday mornings. The diverse musical talents of members of the church are actively used during worship services.

(information provided by Michael Gourlay)

For more information about the history of St Mark’s and the people involved in it, see “Saint Mark’s Church The Gap – The Parish’s Journey from 1920”. Copies are available from St Mark’s Parish Office, Post Office Box 22, The Gap, Qld. 4061 at a cost of $5.00 including postage. Payment by cash or cheque.