Baptist Historical Society of Queensland


  James Voller: Pioneer Baptist Minister of Australia

 by David Parker

 70 pages - illustrated

Published by Baptist Historical Society of Qld

BHSQ Publications, 98 Yallambee Rd Jindalee Qld Australia
$7.50 + $1.10 post in Australia
Orders and other publications


 10 years ministry in England
Became Baptist at South Parade Baptist Church, Leeds
Trained Horton/Rawdon College
Pastored at Salford Lancs., Bishop Burton Yorks., Tipton Staffs.
Shipwrecked in Indian Ocean on voyage to Australia

 16 years in Sydney
Third Pastor at Australia's Founding Church (Bathurst St, now Central, Baptist Church, Sydney
Elected First President, Baptist Union of NSW
Strategic Church Planter - Hinton, Bathurst Orange

 30 years in Queensland
"Father of Baptists" in Queensland, Honoured Guide and Advisor
Performed first baptisms in Brisbane
Consulted with first Baptist Church and saved it for the future
Influenced Rev. B.G. Wilson to come to Brisbane & close friend
First President, Baptist Union of Qld Sent founding members to Ipswich, Maryborough & Rockhampton
Pioneer pastor & leader of Enoggera, Sandgate & Taringa Churches



This book features Rev. James Voller, a pioneer Baptist pastor in Australia who was shipwrecked in the Indian Ocean while travelling to this country in 1853 with the loss of all his property; he and almost all others on board were later dramatically rescued by an American whaling boat which happened to visit the remote island. They were taken to Mauritius from which after a delay of some weeks they were able to resume their journey.
Mr Voller served the Bathurst St Baptist Church in Sydney, the first Baptist church in the country, for 16 years, with a distinguished ministry that featured outreach into new areas in the country and the development of the church's identity in the city.

Mr Voller visited Brisbane in the Moreton Bay district several times during his Sydney pastorate to provide vital guidance to the struggling church there, several of whom had been in his Sydney church. Because of his deep interest and help, he became known as "the father of Brisbane Baptists." He performed the first baptisms for the church in Queensland. He was instrumental in the appointment of Rev. B.G. Wilson under whose ministry the City Tabernacle (then Wharf St) church flourished. Mr Voller was also keenly interested in the witness of several other of his members who commenced a church in the northern port of Rockhampton. His influence was also felt in at least 2 other Queensland churches.

After serving 14 years in Sydney, Voller developed a severe throat infection which required a year's rest and treatment in England. In 1870, still not cured, he resigned his Sydney pastorate and moved to Brisbane where he joined up with the Wharf St church that he had helped so many times before. He pioneered the Enoggera church and then served a 10 year part time pastorate at Sandgate. He was the first president of the Baptist Union of Queensland in 1877.

After a brief period of residence in Sydney again, he returned to Brisbane, selecting the Taringa area as his place of residence. Here, with others, he commenced the Taringa church.


Several of Mr and Mrs Voller's large family also settled in the Taringa area. Many of their grandchildren attended Taringa State School. Mr and Mrs Voller remained at Taringa until their deaths in 1901 and 1902. A plaque in Mr Voller's honour occupies a prominent place in the Taringa church. 

Many of their family remained in the area. His son Walter C. Voller was a well known architect. The original Taringa church building, erected in 1891 was designed by him. He also represented Queensland in cricket, was a member of the Union Athletic Club and was a skilled photographer. Several other family members have followed in the same profession. Another descendant, Rev. David Voller, was an Anglican minister.



Zion Baptist High St Princes End Tipton 1846-71

Rev. James Voller's last church in England 1848-53

Large number of descendants present for launching

Almost 200 people were present at Taringa Baptist Church, Brisbane, Queensland on Sunday October 19, 1997 for the launching of a book about a pioneer Baptist minister who was shipwrecked on his way to Australia in 1853.
He was Rev. James Voller, the third minister of the Bathurst St (now Central) Baptist Church, Sydney. He served a distinguished 16 year pastorate there before retiring with a weak throat. He had previously served for 10 years in three English churches after training for the ministry at Horton College (now Northern Baptist). Mr Voller moved to Brisbane where he was involved in the establishment and pastoral care of four different churches. He was also the inaugural president of the Baptist Union of Queensland.

Twenty members of the Voller family were present for the book launching which was part of the centenary of the Taringa Church, the last of the churches with which Mr Voller was involved. Voller family members travelled from as far as Western Australia, Melbourne and Sydney for the occasion. A great-grandson, Anglican clergyman Rev. David Voller participated in the luncheon and was joined by other family members in giving reminiscences. Other visitors represented churches linked with James Voller and past members and friends of the Taringa Church.

The 60 page fully illustrated book on James Voller was written by Dr David Parker of Brisbane, and launched by Dr S.W. Nickerson, Principal of the Queensland Baptist College. It was published by the Baptist Historical Society of Queensland. Dr Nickerson was also the guest speaker for the centenary service.

During the thanksgiving service, Mrs Helen Smith, President Elect of the Baptist Union of Queensland also launched a centenary history of the Taringa Church. It was written by Mr Eric Kopittke, President of the Baptist Historical Society and formerly a deacon of the church. Mr and Mrs Kopittke, who are prominent members of the Family History Society of Queensland, also contributed genealogical information for the James Voller book.



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