A century of Anglicans faith

CRACK THE TON: Some of the local Anglican community met up to celebrate the rectory’s 100th birthday.
CRACK THE TON: Some of the local Anglican community met up to celebrate the rectory’s 100th birthday. Andrew Messenger

CHARLEVILLE Anglicans’ Bush Brothers building will reach one hundred this week.

And for a religious order that has been in town since the very first wood stump was pushed into the ground, it’s a reminder of how things once were.

But at Reverend Steffan van Munster’s wine and cheese afternoon on the weekend thoughts turned to the future of ministry out West.

Drawing a number of visiting Anglicans, including Jo Vandersee, a theology student from Kenmore Anglican church in Brisbane, the event spilled well into the night.

“This evening was a wine and cheese night to show the Charleville community that the church is here we are for the community we welcome people and we are active and alive in the Char community,” she said.

Jo has long been a friend of Steffan, and was invited out to celebrate the anniversary, which is on Friday, July 15.

Reverend Steffan van Munster said there is need for some serious repair, but that he has big plans for the place.

“The building is something we want to repair for future people to visit, as a visiting centre,” he said.

To do that they’re probably going to need to re-stump and put on a new roof, as well as doing basic maintenance and fixing flooring on the wrap-around verandas.

“That’ll be over time, a couple of year projects,” he said.

But he said the idea was probably worth it, with the right plan.

“We have the resource, let’s use it, to invite people from the cities to come out and learn about Western (culture),” he said.

“To come and meet the locals.”

Once upon a time the building was used by the Bush Brothers, English volunteers who travelled across the area from farm to small town to farm.

Many of them were semi-trained in medicine or other useful skills.

They were supposedly able to preach like Apostles and ride like cowboys.

Priests were based all over Australia, but were founded in Longreach.

Brothers ranged from bases in Cunnamulla, Charleville and Dalby and would cover a vast area.

Around half a dozen were based in Charleville at any one time.

It was the big town of the area, bigger than Roma.

“This was the bush brothers rest and recuperation base,” Rev van Munster said.

“Now it’s a big home (for the reverend).”

He said they also often host guests and so on.

The tradition of free and self-sacrificial service has done Rev van Steffan no favours, he said, pointing to “history” as the biggest difficulty with his job.

“The Bush Brothers used to do everything for free, there was never any charge in that. People still want the same.”

But he has big plans nonetheless, combating population decline and small church attendance, not to mention constant travel all over western Queensland

“It’s a challenging journey to bring a church back to life I suppose,” he said.

“We’re struggling, we all are, because of (population decline).”

But on Saturday night there was certainly none of that struggle, with the community gathering for a good time and nice food.

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