A Brief History of the People of the Parish

The Clergy

An Anglican ministry was established in the area in 1880, with Rev AC Mosley covering both Port Douglas and the Smithfield ( Cairns ) area. This proved impractical and the district relied on visiting mission chaplains from 1884 until 1998 when the Parish of Port Douglas and Mossman was established with Rev BD Bryant the first incumbent. He left after two years and a stipendiary lay reader, W Wilkinson, led the parish until Rev T Pitt was appointed in 1902. Once again the tenure lasted just two years, with Rev Pitt going south in May 1904, to be replaced by Rev Edward Taffs who stayed somewhat longer – 46 years in fact until he died ‘on the job’ in 1950 aged 90 years.

Rev Taffs came from an English upbringing and then several years in Victoria as a teacher and curate. He had a heart for ministry to the south sea islanders who worked the cane plantations, building a hall for their learning and relaxation. He was skilled in woodwork, an enthusiastic gardener and had a flair for architecture – designing both the Port Douglas and Mossman churches to be built after the 1911 cyclone. Although quite English and polite to a fault, he did not shirk hard work, acting as builder’s labourer on the arduous task of building a stone church at Mossman. Although ever dedicated, no doubt age forced a slow down in ministry activity towards the end of this marathon incumbency. He died before the stone church was completed – the energy of a new rector, Rev Colin Ware, saw the building completed and dedicated within two years.

Fr Ware was in the parish until 1955. Subsequent rectors/priests-in charge were: A MacFarland (1955-61); E Gribble (1961-65); R Atkins (1965-69); F Morrey (1970-73); S Batten (part 1974); A Morrison (1974-83); M Babbage (1984-90); T Williams (1990-94); B Paterson (1994-99); G McLeod (2000-2002), C Ford (2003-2007), T Morris (2008), P Beasley (2009-2013). The current Rector (Fr Kenneth Lay) was inducted by Bishop Bill Ray on Wednesday 3 September, 2014

Other clergy have contributed to the parish ministry over time. These have included: Deacon E.G. (Charlie) Jenkin and Deacon Eric Pitt, Deacon Ethel Woods and Deacon Deborah Kachel.


The congregation

Early church leaders included some noted early settlers and community citizens. FW Barnard, a settler from the early 1880s and Chair of the Mossman Central Mill for eleven years was Peoples Warden until 1911. RO Jones, farmer (1878), saw-miller and Police Magistrate, was Rector’s Warden during early development years of the church until 1904. RD Rex, prominent in local government and eventually Shire Chairman from 1932 to 1955 was Secretary/Treasurer for about 12 years, including the period of negotiation to form a parish.

Over the years, a core of hardworking parish members has carried the parish through times of growth and times of ‘hanging on’. Some members of the current parish council and ministry teams have given their time selflessly to parish operations for many years – including active involvement in the Community Outreach and Worship committees.

A stalwart Ladies Guild boosted finances for many years, beginning with the 1903 ‘Fancy Fair’ which raised 89 pounds 2 shillings towards the first rectory; through to a strong band in later years catering for weddings and the Mossman Show, holding cake stalls etc. An extract from a 1970s Ladies Guild Report spells out the success of the group:

I always consider we are a happy band of workers, working and doing things to help the finances of the parish and keeping our church in clean and tidy condition. Our first meeting this year had 23 and we have 32 members at the end of the year. Each cake stall we held was a financial success … I would like to thank Jack and Newell for their advertising and the use of the veranda for our cake stalls … special thanks for the hard work by everyone at the Show catering and other catering jobs which have been our mightiest efforts for the last few years and though we feel dead the next day, we’ve always survived.  (Ette Kerswell)

This went on to operate as an informal group running the (every) Saturday morning market in the church grounds, a consistently demanding but profitable exercise which draws community and church together. The success of the market over the years has seen the establishment of a formal committee and its incorporation.

For several years, the ‘Stella Sparks’ team has provided weekly contact and entertainment for residents of an aged care facility (now Ozcare; previously ‘Stella Maris’).