When St Paul’s Lutheran Church, Yandilla, closed its doors on 12 August, it provided an opportunity to help three congregations more than 2000 kilometres away.
It all began with a conversation between Charlie Uebergang from Yandilla, 200 kilometres west of Brisbane, and Pastor David Spanagel from the Hope Vale parish on Cape York Peninsula, about 46 kilometres northwest of Cooktown. As a result of that conversation, the Yandilla congregation gifted to the congregations at St John’s Hope Vale, Living Waters Wujal Wujal, and Coen their collection of bibles, hymnbooks, All Together songbooks, paraments, a crucifix, banners, handmade flowerpot stands and offering plates.
Mr Uebergang, Yandilla’s vice-chairman, treasurer and elder, said the congregation wanted items from St Paul’s to be given to others, so they could continue to be used in worship.
‘It is important that the history [of Yandilla] is acknowledged and these items live on in another church enhancing worship’, he said.
‘We freighted [the items] up to Cairns, and my daughter Madalyn and I flew up to Cairns; then hired a car and headed up to Hope Vale. I just thought it would be special to hand-deliver them, so to speak. For me it was a handing over of some of Yandilla to Hope Vale. It made it a bit more personal.’
There, on 14 October, they witnessed the rededication of the items at a service in Hope Vale.
‘Having Charlie and Madalyn Uebergang present with us for the arrival and presentation of these gifts added a special blessing to the occasion’, Pastor Spanagel said. ‘The whole church has something new in it. It really looks lovely.’
He said he was planning trips to Coen and Wujal Wujal where he would distribute some of the gifts. ‘I’ll take the banners and the offering plates. We used to use an icecream container at Wujal’, Pastor Spanagel said.
What now for the former Yandilla members?
‘The majority of the congregation travelled up to 80 kilometres for three years to continue worship at Yandilla’, Mr Uebergang said. ‘I suppose it is time to move on. All our members are actively worshipping in other church centres now.’ This includes St Peter’s Pittsworth and other Lutheran churches on the Darling Downs.
According to Grant Uebergang, who compiled a short history of St Paul’s Yandilla, which was opened and consecrated on 2 October 1949, ‘membership of St Paul’s reached its zenith in 1964 with 121 baptised souls and 46 pupils in Sunday school’.
‘With a declining membership, which stands at 18 baptised members today, and a great number of the farmer members selling their farms and moving away from Yandilla, a sad decision was made at St Paul’s Annual General Meeting on 3 March 2018 to formally move towards closing the congregation.;
Acting Queensland District Bishop Mark Vainikka conducted the rites of closure of a congregation and de-consecration of a worship building.
‘As we now close this place of worship we remember with gratitude to God all the blessings that he has given us and those who have gone before us’, he said.