Established in 1918 to “carry on schools where pupils may obtain a sound classical mathematical, scientific and general education”, the PMSA is a joint mission of the Uniting Church of Australia Queensland Synod and the Presbyterian Church of Queensland.
The idea of the joint mission of the two Churches formed in late 1917 when two significant events occurred. Concerned with high costs of maintenance of their growing school, the co-Principals of the Brisbane High School for Girls (Somerville House) agreed to consider a proposal by the Methodist Church to purchase the school.
At the same time, the Presbyterian Church was considering the possible purchase of Clayfield College, later to be renamed Brisbane Boys’ College.
This marked the beginning of 100 years of ecumenical co-operation in Queensland education between the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches in Queensland where ownership and control of the schools was vested in an independent council – the PMSA.
To consider the purchase, the two Churches established a council comprising eight members and following acceptance by the two Churches, a constitution was drawn up and the Presbyterian and Methodist Schools Association was born. The Churches established a PMSA Council or Board of Directors and appointed 12 elected members. On 1 July 1918 a formal transfer of ownership of the two schools took place.
The inaugural ceremony was held in the Brisbane Exhibition Hall on 22 July 1918 and the official statement from the PMSA, in part, said:
The education of our young people is to us a matter of vital concern and we felt we ought to be doing more than we have done to surround them with influences which would help to strengthen their Christian faith and to form in them Christian character. We seek no assistance ….. from anyone save from those who think with us and are friends of education and of the Christian way.
In 1930, the PMSA moved Brisbane Boys’ College from Clayfield to larger grounds at Toowong and established Clayfield College as a primary and kindergarten school for girls and boys. This later grew into a full primary and secondary college for girls.
In 1977, the new Uniting Church (comprising the former Congregational, Methodist and Presbyterian Churches) and the continuing Presbyterian Church became the two appointed churches of the PMSA which retained its original name.
In 2004, the PMSA purchased Sunshine Coast Grammar School – a new co-educational independent school. Now, Sunshine Coast Grammar School is a leading independent school on the Sunshine Coast.
The composition of the PMSA Council has changed over time. In its early years, members of the clergy tended to predominate. But towards the latter part of the century, lay members have been in the majority to ensure a balance of skills, experience and qualifications on the Council.
The PMSA and our schools have made a major contribution to Christian education in Queensland. The reason the original joint venture, which began in 1918, has been successful is largely because of the dedication of those men and women who have served its cause so faithfully and well over so many years. This dedication continues, giving confidence for the continued success of the PMSA’s work and our schools.
In 2018, the PMSA commemorates 100 years of providing an outstanding education and guiding young people with values for life. In a new era of education, the PMSA continues to work hard to evolve and change for the future benefit of all schools.
A detailed history of the Presbyterian and Methodist Schools Association is in the book ‘For the Good of the Community’ by Dr Noel Quirke to celebrate the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Association. Please contact the PMSA corporate office for a copy.