Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Fortitude Valley, Qld
[Photograph from cover of: Naomi Aird, A Pictorial History …
of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Warren St. Fortitude Valley (2004)]
Historical and Technical Documentation by Geoffrey Cox
© OHTA 2011, 2013 (last updated May 2013)
The foundation stone of Bethlehem Lutheran Church was laid on 22 September 1929, and the building was opened and consecrated on Sunday 1 December in the same year.1 The congregation was established partly as a result of domestic dissention late in 1927 within the congregation of St Andrew's Lutheran Church, Wickham Terrace, Brisbane. The conflict was essentially over affiliation to the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Australia (generally known as the 'Missouri Synod' because of its close relationship to the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri in the USA), as opposed to the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Australia, which had been formed in 1925.2 Members of the St Andrew's congregation who adhered to the Missouri Synod left in 1928 to form the Bethlehem Lutheran congregation.3
With the formation of a daughter Lutheran congregation at West Chermside in 1965, and with the union of various synods to form the Lutheran Church of Australia in 1966, the numbers attending Bethlehem Church dwindled. In 1973 the congregation was re-united with that of St Andrew's Lutheran Church, Brisbane, and the final service at the Fortitude Valley church was held on 1 February 1976.4
The organ that existed in this church between 1929 and c.1944 was reportedly built during the 1920s by Mr John Nebe for his residence at cnr Fifth and Sixth Avenues, Coorparoo in Brisbane.
Mr John Nebe, playing an unidentified organ
[Photograph from: Naomi Aird, A Pictorial History …
of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Warren St. Fortitude Valley (2004), p. 13]
The organ is reported to have been completed around 1927.5 It was installed in Bethlehem Lutheran Church by Whitehouse Bros of Brisbane.6 This was in time for the opening of the church on 1 December 1929, when Mr Nebe played the organ:
After an opening prayer by Pastor Reimers, the choir (Mr. J. Nebe playing the pipe organ, and a 'cellist and five violinists assisting) the whole of the congregation sang the first hymn.7
After several moves to other locations in Queensland, and with the addition at some stage of a second-hand façade, it is now located in the Residence of Dr Thomas Campbell, Murwillumbah, NSW.
(American Thanksgiving Observance, November 1943)
The first John Nebe organ at Bethlehem Lutheran Church
[Photographs dated between c.1932 and 1944, from Naomi Aird, A Pictorial History …
of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Warren St. Fortitude Valley (2004), pp. 3, 21, 33, 43]
The second organ in this church was also built by Mr John Nebe, and was located originally in his residence at Coorparoo. Nebe procured 'organ parts' from Whitehouse Bros of Brisbane in 1938 and a 'Geigen Principal - 46 pipes' in 1939.8 The instrument is reported to have been completed around 1944.9 In 1945, the organ was dismantled at Coorparoo by Whitehouse Bros and re-erected in the church at Fortitude Valley.10
The second John Nebe organ at Bethlehem Lutheran Church (1949)
[Photograph from: Naomi Aird, A Pictorial History … of Bethlehem
Lutheran Church, Warren St. Fortitude Valley (2004), p. 86]
This instrument was rebuilt with electro-pneumatic action and re-located to the back of the church in 1972 by H.W. Jarrott of Brisbane.11 Following the closure of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, it was removed in 1976 to Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Woden, A.C.T., and in 1985 to Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Belconnen, ACT.12 It was broken up early in 2011.13
1 Naomi Aird, A Pictorial History & my memories of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Warren St. Fortitude Valley (2004), pp. 10-11; The Brisbane Courier (2 December 1929), p. 16.
2 F. Otto Theile, One Hundred Years of the Lutheran Church in Queensland (Brisbane: UELCA, 1938), pp. 66-67.
3 Siegfried Monz, A Brief History of St Andrew's Church, Wickham Terrace, Brisbane 1858-1984 (unpubl. booklet, c.1988).
4 Aird, op. cit., pp. 135-38.
5 Date supplied to G. Cox by Ian Tucker, c.1972, presumably through personal communications from Whitehouse Bros and/or Bethlehem Lutheran Church, c.1970.
6 Whitehouse Bros Ledger (1922-1940), p. 488. The date of the entry is unclear, apparently 1929 or 1930. Ian Tucker recorded that Nebe gave the organ to Bethlehem Lutheran Church in 1930.
7 The Brisbane Courier (2 December 1929), p. 16.
8 Whitehouse Bros Ledger (1922-1940), p. 478.
9 Date noted by Ian Tucker, presumably through personal communications from Whitehouse Bros and/or Bethlehem Lutheran Church, c.1970.
10 Whitehouse Bros Ledger (1940-1954), p. 346.
11 Personal communication to G. Cox from H.W. Jarrott, c.1974; Aird, op. cit, p. 138.
12 Personal communications to G. Cox from Pastor Noel C. Schultz, January 1976, and from John Maidment, c.1976 and c.1985.
13 Personal communication to G. Cox from Trevor Bunning, July 2012.