About the Brisbane EPC

Rev. David Higgs is pastor of the congregation of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Australia at Brisbane. He graduated from the Protestant Reformed Seminary in 1994.

I have been asked by the editor of the Standard Bearer to write an article of news concerning myself and the congregation of which I am now pastor. I gladly accede to this request with the desire that it keep us in your memories and prayers. More, that this will be one of many means by which we grow in our knowledge of, and love for, each other.

As I begin to write it is 4 p.m. on Tuesday, December 19th. The temperature has just climbed over 38 degrees Celsius (approx. 100 degrees Fahrenheit), and is still climbing. This is a typical Brisbane summer's day. Brisbane is the capital of the state of Queensland. It is situated between the 26th and 27th lines of latitude, south of the equator. This is somewhat similar, I believe, to the position of Houston, Texas, north of the equator.

In January of 1995 I underwent, and passed, my trials before Presbytery. This is the name we Presbyterians call what our brethren with a Dutch heritage refer to as examination of students before the Classis or Synod. By passing these trials I became eligible for a call to any one of our congregations. Such a call was received from our Brisbane congregation. After accepting the call, I was ordained, and installed into office on April 22nd, 1995.

At the time of the call we were living in Launceston, in the island state of Tasmania. To travel to Brisbane required a journey of over 2,200 kilometres (approx. 1,400 miles — similar, I think, to the distance between Grand Rapids and Houston). Part of this journey included an overnight ferry trip of 14 hours duration, across Bass Strait, to mainland Australia. Between Launceston and Brisbane we have only one other church of our denomination. This is situated just out of Sydney, which is about the half-way mark.

I have been in the ministry of the Word and Sacraments for just eight months now. A demanding office this is. But to preach the Word of God has been a source of continual joy to me. There have been, of course, the usual settling-in problems which most new ministers face. Whatever problems I have faced have been more than compensated for by a mature, godly, and hospitable congregation. But even more than this, I have been blessed with a Session (Consistory) which is also mature and godly. The Session has assisted me greatly in the work to which I am called.

God has blessed us, as a family, in situating us in our Brisbane Church. I have mentioned several of its qualities as a congregation; much, however, could be added to this. But we face a large problem as a congregation, too. Not only are we scattered as a denomination, but Brisbane is scattered as a congregation.

The Brisbane Church is one of our largest congregations, consisting of approximately 90 members and adherents (including children). But this number is scattered greatly. We worship, Lord's Day mornings, at a hired hall called "Bread House." On the map on the next page you can see that this is near the centre of the city. We worship there to try to accommodate all the members of the congregation as best we can, as this is about the most central position. Lord's Day evenings, however, we worship in a school hall in a suburb called Oxley. We do this because the vast majority of the congregation lives in Oxley and the surrounding areas.

The scattered nature of our congregation promises no easy solution. We are, perhaps, too small to divide into two congregations. Yet, every Lord's Day we have members traveling well over an hour to church from Buddina, on the north coast. Also, we have a member living near Toowoomba, over one and a half hours' drive from Brisbane. We also have a Preaching Station (somewhat akin to your home mission centres) at Chinchilla. This comes under the Session of the Brisbane Church. Members of the Church at Bell and Chinchilla are part of this Preaching Station. The member at Kingaroy alternates between traveling to Brisbane, and traveling to the services at the Preaching Station.

But even this is not the end of the story. For the bulk of our people who live in the Oxley area, traveling to church in the morning requires a trip of at least 20 minutes. Indeed, I believe that only two families travel less than that time, and all the rest travel in excess of that time.

The widespread nature of our congregation makes Session visitations, pastoral work, and fellowship extremely difficult. But, almost as if to compensate for this, the Lord has blessed us with people who are willing to make sacrifices, to go out of their way to have fellowship, and to help those who travel great distances on the Lord's Day. And in all of this we are the stronger, and praise our God for His goodness.

My family and I remember with fondness our three years spent with you as I studied in the seminary. We covet your prayers. We hope one day to meet again in the flesh. We hope, also, that this article will give you some idea of our work and needs, so that you may pray for us with more understanding.