The historic Anglican Parish Church of the City of Brisbane
Many people wander into All Saints' out of curiosity, and find themselves overwhelmed by a mysterious sense of prayer, sacredness, and love. They experience this Anglo-Catholic church in the heart of the City of Brisbane as a holy place, a sacred site, a shrine which triggers off their deep-seated human instinct to reach out to God.
In this church the earthly and the heavenly mingle daily in the offering of the Mass. All Saints' is an inclusive place in which the gaze of all is directed to the outstretched arms of Jesus on the cross, the ultimate sign of God's love.
The pictures, statues and icons remind us that even in apparent isolation we never pray alone. For us, slipping into a church like All Saints' for "private" prayer is an experience of the whole praying community, which includes the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the Saints whose love supports us on our faith journey.
The present church, the oldest existing Anglican Church in Brisbane, was opened for worship on the Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 8th September, 1869, replacing an earlier structure of 1862. Its style is nineteenth century gothic revival, with buttressed walls of rough faced rubble, porphyry and sandstone, and a metal clad roof. The interior has a fine example of a hammer-beam roof, which is rare in Australia.
All Saints' Church has played no small part in the story of Brisbane's development into a city of culture and significance. Well-known identities who worshipped at All Saints' in the nineteenth century included Sir Robert Ramsey Mackenzie, Sir James Dickson, (both of whom served as Premiers of Queensland, the latter becoming Minister of defence in the first Commonwealth Government), Mrs Mary Peattie, and the Hon. John Douglas. To this day, All Saints' is regarded by many as the "Parish Church of the City of Brisbane".
A Catholic Community
From its very beginning, All Saints' has been distinguished as a leading centre of the Catholic Revival within the Anglican Church.
In other words, we are "mainstream Christians", believing and practising the ancient Catholic Faith in much the same way as it has been believed and practised by the vast majority of the baptized down through the centuries and throughout the world.
In most metropolitan cities of the English speaking world there is a church like All Saints' which by its proclamation of the full Catholic Faith, its careful celebration of the liturgy, and its cycle of Catholic prayer and devotion, reminds all Anglicans of their historic claim to be an integral part of the Catholic Church. At its best this tradition manages to combine the glories of transcendent worship, personal spirituality, a sense of fun, a practical service of the needy, and a ready acceptance of those who are trying to make sense out of life or who are struggling towards belief.
People with intellectual doubts and emotional difficulties appreciate city churches like All Saints' where they can find acceptance, regardless of what stage they might have reached on their spiritual journey. Some find that they need the anonymity and "space" that a city church provides while they explore the basic notions of belief. Others have become regular at Mass because of the capacity of the worship itself to heal and nurture the wounded children of God.
A Worshipping Community
Australians of the 1990's no longer go to church as a matter of habit. Today's generation seems largely indifferent to the Church and its teachings. Yet All Saints' continues to be a place where spiritual needs are met, where young and old alike still discover God's love.
Our faith is not primarily a philosophy, a set of ideas or theories; nor is it just a system, a method of prayer or meditation. Still less is it mere conformity to a set of moral standards. None of these is unimportant. But our faith is in a PERSON - Jesus, "the human face of God", or in ancient Christian language, "the Word made flesh" who "dwelt among us . . . and we have beheld his glory" (John 1:14).
Ours is an earthy religion which lifts us up to the heights of heaven. Jesus really did come to show us the glory of God in human flesh; he died on the cross and rose in triumph over sin and darkness to give us new life. The Church is the community of love gathered around him, and it is a community that spans earth and heaven. The risen Jesus is the centre of our worship, and so we try to make our worship the best we can offer.
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is celebrated daily at All Saints' in order to glorify God, and to pray for the Church and the world in which we live.
Weekday Masses are offered by small groups gathered in the Lady Chapel, early in the morning and at lunchtime.
On Sundays and on the great festivals of the Church's year, people come from far and wide to High Mass in which assistant clergy, altar servers, incense, holy water and candles are used; majestic music from all periods of history is sung by the choir. A sermon is preached on the readings set for the day. The ancient ceremonial actions of the sacred ministers and servers are deliberate as well as symbolic.
High Mass at All Saints' Wickham Terrace is an experience of the timelessness of eucharistic worship in the fullness of Catholic tradition, with the particular blend of dignity and homeliness which is found in historic English spirituality.
"High Mass at All Saints' is the means by which many encounter God's love and glimpse his glory in the face of Jesus Christ."
Evensong and Benediction on Sunday nights is another high point of parish life. The choir sings psalms and canticles to ancient plainchant. Bible readings, an anthem, and a sermon are also features of this service, which is the traditional Anglican form of "Vespers", the Church's evening prayer.
Following an Anthem (usually from the English cathedral tradition), a sermon is preached. Then the whole of the High Altar is decked out with candles to draw attention to the risen Jesus, the light of the world, truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. We sing to him and honour his sacred Presence with incense. This moving time of prayer and adoration reaches its climax as the priest makes the sign of the cross over us with the Blessed Sacrament.
An Active Community
The people who regularly attend All Saints' make up a real community whose shared life provides mutual support in our journey towards wholeness in Christ.
A number of Anglican societies have branches at All Saints', and they meet for prayer, study and encouragement in the Faith: The Society of Mary, the Guild of the Servants of the Sanctuary, the Catholic League, the Franciscan Order of the Divine Compassion, the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, and the Anglican Womens' Guild. Sunday School meets during the first half of High Mass on Sundays. In addition, study groups meet from time to time, and there is the normal preparation of adults and children for Baptism, Confirmation, and First Communion.
The healing ministry of Jesus is continued at All Saints through the anointing with oil and the laying on of hands with prayer for the sick, in church, at home or in hospital.
The Social Committee runs a programme of dinners and other events aimed at nurturing the bonds of fellowship between parishioners.
The Welfare Ministry of All Saints' provides meals for the disadvantaged, and is constantly looking at new ways of supporting the needy in our part of Brisbane.
Forward in Faith
This has nothing to do with being against women; but the people of our parish want to stay with the belief and practice of the whole Catholic Church going back to Jesus and the Apostles. We deeply regret the damage that the purported ordination of women has caused to our prospects of reunion with the vast majority of Christians - the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches of the East - whose apostolic ministry Anglicans have always claimed to share.
And so our parish is part of "Forward in Faith", a rapidly growing international network of Anglican parishes standing together against harmful departures from the faith of the whole Church. We seek to re-establish the true Catholic Faith within Anglican structures because we believe that nothing less can bring men and women into the fullness of God's blessing and grace.