THE Reverend Canon David John Garland OBE is well known for his contributions to the development of ANZAC Day services (see our ‘Architect’ of ANZAC Day page) and service to the soldiers, especially his founding and directorship of the Soldiers’ Church of England Help Society in 1915 ( see our post, Helping the troops ).
What is truly amazing, however, is the depth and breadth of his contribution to the welfare of the Australian community in other areas.
His legacy of service to others before self, cements his place in the pantheon of great Australians, and beckons us to continue this tradition of fostering a caring local communities of which we can all be proud.
Dublin-born David Garland was a staunch advocate for the Australian homeland he adopted as a young man, and almost certainly penned or guided the drafting of the sermon delivered in Perth’s magnificent St George’s Cathedral on first morning of the Commonwealth of Australia on 1 January 1901 ( see our post, Prayers for a new nation ). He witnessed Western Australia’s transition from a colony to a member of the Federation. Always a urger for the cause of migration to the new nation, once he settled in Queensland he applied his energies towards formalising a system of immigration, especially from the British Isles, to help populate the State and to ensure its future prosperity and defence.
As early as 1911 Canon Garland was made director of immigration for the Church of England’s Diocese of Brisbane, holding this position until 1933.
From 1926 he founded and was elected president of the New Settlers’ League which was tasked with considering which type of immigrants would suit the development of our community, as well as lobbying for government release of new lands for occupancy.
Through these positions he guided policy on the building of our State and our nation in the times of World War I and the post-War period.
Ethnic community integration
Canon Garland, while a serving Anglican parish priest, considered the needs of all in the community, but was especially drawn to the easing the hardship or unease of the newcomers to a new country.
He himself came from Ireland with family in 1886. So, as a young man, he would have felt the emotions and spiritual needs of those faced with building a new life in a strange place.
He became a strong champion for a variety of ethnic communities in Brisbane. The Russian Orthodox worshipping community of South Brisbane retains great respect for Canon Garland for his practical hospitality in permitting Orthodox services to be hosted in his parish church until the Russian community could established its own place of worship.
Canon Garland helped and guided them to purchase and build their first church – later to be renowned as the first Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Australia – in Vulture Street, South Brisbane ( see our post, New Russian church ).
He fostered strong relationships with the Greek community as it similarly grew and developed its own capacity especially in the South Brisbane community ( see our posts, Debt owed to the Greeks and Canon Garland invested )
During Canon Garland’s service with the First AIF as volunteer military chaplain in the Middle East ( see our posts, Church work at the Front and Work of chaplains ), his strong sense of practical ecumenism helped forge relationships with the Orthodox churches and he participated in their services and provided support for those affected by the war, especially the children. He continued these approaches back in Brisbane from 1920 and was awarded the Gold Cross of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre.
Canon Garland served within the church in rural areas, having had his vocation as a clergyman formed under the tutelage of the legendary Reverend Canon Thomas Jones, Rector of Toowoomba’s St James’s Church of England parish, then being attached as the priest in charge of Laidley’s St Saviour’s Church in 1889 ( see our post, Leaving Laidley ). He was then called to the Diocese of Grafton, New South Wales, where he served as a Deacon before being recruited by the Archbishop of Perth to help organise fledgling parishes extending past Geraldton and many kilometres to the east of Perth ( see our post, Collated a canon ). It was during this time that the Reverend David Garland was collated as a Canon of St George’s Cathedral.
When he left Western Australia it was to take charge of Sydney’s venerable St James’s Church ( see our post, The Northam farewell ) in early 1902.
From 1902-1907 he served in North Queensland ( see our posts, Inducted at Charters Towers and Archdeacon Garland resigns ). In these journeys across the far northern regions of the State ( see our post, Northern missions ), he made many approaches on policies regarding the welfare of Indigenous Australians. He was influenced by the birth of the Australian Board of Missions and the establishment of the Brotherhood of St Laurence and provided such groups with ideas to assimilate and support them, especially their youth.
Further studies are warranted to find the records of letters and conference papers written under Canon Garland’s hand.
“Creative, innovative and responsive” are words which can describe Canon Garland’s transmission, via the fledgling public radio airwaves, of broadcasts of Holy Communion services (including sermons he penned) from St Barnabas’ Church, on Waterworks Road, Red Hill, Brisbane ( see our post, On the airwaves ).
This incredibly forward-thinking application of new technology in the service of engaging with audiences as far afield as the Torres Strait, to Winton and Coolangatta on Radio 4QG (and occasionally Radio 4BC and other stations) commenced in 1927 and were a mainstay of local programming schedules until his passing in 1939.
These actions, in an already-full, weekly personal program of supporting the unification of ANZAC Day, commemorating those who fell in the service of their country (but providing practical pastoral care to, and advocacy on behalf of, returned servicemen and servicewomen), speak to the astonishing Community Spirit which Canon Garland displayed throughout his lifetime of service to the nation and his God.
Won’t you join us directly and/or support our journey to foster this self-same Community Spirit, no matter where you live?