The Presbytery of the Downs is a predominantly rural presbytery, extending from Toowoomba, going north to Crow’s Nest and surrounding district, west through, Taroom, Jandowae and Arcadia Valley to the Northern Territory border. South from Toowoomba, the region takes in Warwick, Killarney, Stanthorpe and the Granite Belt to the New South Wales border. In the west and south west towns include Dalby Chinchilla, Roma, Charleville, St George and Cunnamulla. The Presbytery covers a large area, approximately 400,000sq kilometres but is relatively small numerically with a population of approximately 260,000.
The life of its congregations is greatly influenced by annual rainfall, drought, floods, frosts and storms, commodity prices, dairy deregulation, crop yields, and withdrawal of services from some smaller communities.
The impact of mining and the development of the industries associated with the energy resources boom is bringing mixed fortunes to the region as regional councils seek to address the issues of sustainable and responsible land use inherent in the mining versus farming debate , the challenges of demands for infrastructure to support predicted a larger populations, and the social issues that are arising from an increase in the male population as companies choose to fly workers into rural towns and accommodate them in motels and mining camps.
The Presbytery is served by 11 Ministers of the Word, 1 Community Minister and 1 Pastor in congregation placements. In addition, a part time Mission Resource Officer serves as a resource person across the Presbytery with particular responsibilities for Lay Ministry Teams. Lay ministry teams exercise leadership in 7 congregations. A Covenant Agreement exists between the Uniting Church and Lutheran Congregations in Wandoan stating their intent to be a worshipping community sharing ministry resources. Two Frontier Service Patrols operate within the Presbytery – the Burke and Wills Patrol based in Charleville and the Cunnamulla Patrol. The Presbytery Leichhardt Patrol operates in the area defined as the Surat Basin, taking in the towns of Taroom, Wandoan, Miles, Surat and Goondiwindi- communities along the Leichardt Highway and on the Warrego Highway east to Chinchilla and west to but not including the Maranoa Cluster – Roma, Injune, Wallumbilla and Yuleba.
One full-time hospital chaplain exercises ministry in the Toowoomba Base Hospital as part of an Ecumenical Pastoral Care Team. Volunteer pastoral carers are trained to exercise pastoral care in all the hospitals in the Downs Presbytery region in ecumenical teams. 2 part- time Blue Care chaplains, minister to residents and staff of the Garden Settlement Blue Care Facility in Toowoomba and other Blue care facilities across the region. A part- time school chaplain, has been appointed to Uniting Church School, Scots PGC College in Warwick.
Our desire is to become a presbytery of strong congregations, that know where God has called us to specifically exercise mission in our local communities, identifying clearly the gifts and resources God has given to be a blessing to those whom God has called us to serve.