From commencement to building its citadel.
The Salvation Army had its foundation laid in Maroochydore, Queensland as early as 1894 and although not always operating in the official scene, it seems to have had a presence. This article outlines some of the major historical developments of The Salvation Army in the Maroochydore area to the time of the current citadel (church building) being constructed.
The first work of the Army can be traced to 1894 when some 200 people joined together for the first Christmas encampment at Cotton Tree. This ministry grew to be an annual pilgrimage which continued for over 26 years and would later see the Army praised for establishing the tourist industry on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
The encampment was originally organised as a means of entertaining the Kanakas, the South Sea Islanders imported to do manual labour on the farms. Many of these people came from Buderim Mountain and used Cotton Tree as their annual vacation period at Christmas. As the camp became better known, The Salvation Army played a vital role in catering to the physical and the spiritual needs of the campers. Along with meetings the Army provided the tents, shops and entertainment. This encampment became so popular that often over 1,000 people camped in temporary tents over the Christmas period. The earlier part of the 1900s saw The Salvation Army withdraw from organising the encampment which was then taken on by the Methodist Church.
Salvationists from Nambour and other centres visited the Maroochydore area for ANZAC day ceremonies and other public holidays to run services. Then in 1948 Adjutant Percy and Mrs Adjutant Flo Stockall commenced meetings in the Diggers’ Hall, Maroochydore every Wednesday night. These meetings continued under the leadership of CSM William Humphreys until May 1961.
Some 30 years later, June 1984 Major Barry Pobjie conducted a survey of the Sunshine Coast to determine its future development in regards to the expansion of The Salvation Army. As a result of the report, Lieutenant Wendy Woodbury was appointed to Nambour Corps in January 1985 with special responsibility for Maroochydore. Park Sunday schools were held to enlist young people for Sunday school prior to the first meeting.
It was not until 7 April 1985 that the first meeting, then called a “family service” was held in a pre-school on Pikki Street. From that time meetings were held every Sunday at 9:30am. When Woodbury left to get married in August, Cadet Tim Collier was appointed as his out-training from The Salvation Army Training College for Officers, Sydney to assist with the Maroochydore work. This was only from August to November 1985. Lieutenant Marilyn Heit was welcomed as Associate Officer for Nambour Corps on 13 February 1986 with special responsibility for Maroochydore.
The outpost moved several times from the pre-school in Pikki Street to the Presbyterian Church at Alexandra Headlands. Eventually the CWA hall was obtained for rent, and this hall became “home” for the Maroochydore Salvation Army for a number of years.
On 8 April 1986 the first committee meeting was held to look for land and make a decision regarding property in Maroochydore for The Salvation Army to use. Lieutenant Robert Daly replaced Heit on 27 September 1987 and was welcomed as the assistant officer of Nambour Corps, again with special responsibility for the Maroochydore Outpost.
During Daly’s time a number of proposals were made to Salvation Army headquarters for the purchase of different properties. But there were many setbacks and none of these proposals bore fruit. The year 1988 saw the outpost commence a number of new ventures, these included:
- The first Home League meeting;
- Evening meetings;
- Junior Soldiers’ meetings;
- Youth group events; and
- A songster brigade and brass band were established.
In September 1988 Lot 3 & 4, RP 184043, portion 6, Parish of Mooloolah was purchased where approximately 3 years later the citadel would be built.
On 12 January 1989 Lieutenant Neil and Mrs Lieutenant Sharon Clanfield arrived in Maroochydore to take up their appointment as corps officers for the newly recognised corps (officially announced on 1 May 1989 and celebrated on 4 June 1989). The first quarters for the corps was purchased on 6 April 1989.
On 10 April 1990 the building committee met to discuss further developments. However, there was little information regarding the building project in the Corps History Book for the next 11 months. Finally, on 16 May 1991 at 3:00pm tenders were called. From this point on the submissions from the tenders were chosen and final approval was given to commence building.
At 4:00 pm on 28 July 1991 members of the corps, including the brass band met for an open-air meeting on the site where the new citadel was to be built. With praise and thanksgiving, the site was dedicated to the service of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. A fellowship tea and a praise and thanksgiving meeting was held after the dedication. The Caloundra Outpost comrades, now being oversighted by the Maroochydore Corps, also joined in the celebration.
An end of an era took place on 1 December 1991 when the final meeting was held in the CWA Hall. The message for that day was “Looking Forward”. The ladies from the CWA were welcomed and thanked for their co-operation and help while the corps had used their hall. Everything was now in place for the opening of the citadel.
The long-anticipated day came on 7 December 1991, commencing at 6:00pm. After a short official service, the doors of the new citadel were opened. The leaders for the weekend were Commissioner and Mrs Robert Bath, Territorial Commanders who officially opened the building. The longest serving soldier, Sister Mrs Mary Tickle, and the newest soldier, Junior Soldier Scott Short, preceded the congregation into the new set of buildings.
The Divisional Commanders, Major and Mrs Stan Everitt, Local Member of Parliament, Mr Alex Somalay M.L.A. (Member of Legislative Assembly), and Nambour Corps Officer, Mrs Captain N. Moxon also took part in the opening ceremony. It was a thoroughly exciting beginning for the new citadel with a theme running throughout the weekend of “With God the best is yet to be!” Many leaders of the town and clergy from other churches were present for the opening to show their support for the work of The Salvation Army.
After 27 years, the Maroochydore citadel stands as a visual reminder that The Salvation Army is still active in Maroochydore. The citadel serves the corps as it seeks to be the centre from which to reach out to the community and have them come into a place where they can meet with God.
The full article can be read in The Australasian Journal of Salvation Army History.
By Major Glenda Hentzschel