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A vibrant congregation builds a vital community service

The Trinity Lutheran Church Southport congregation has given rise to many services over the years—from child care to schools to family support centres. Many of these services continue to this day, forming vibrant and vital parts of the Gold Coast community fabric.

This Lutheran Services Origin Story traces the development of the service known today as Trinity Community Services—a long established and leading provider of disability support services for the Gold Coast. When the service began in the 1970s, it was one of the first of its kind in Queensland.

It began with the energetic Pastor Prenzler

When a Lutheran Pastor by the name of Martin Prenzler came to the Gold Coast in 1972, as part of his service within the Trinity Southport parish he encouraged congregation members to serve the community by reaching out in mercy
to people in need and those less fortunate - in particular, individuals and families living with disability.

Just a few years earlier, Pastor Prenzler had inspired and led the St Luke’s Lutheran congregation in Nambour in establishing Queensland’s first community-based care and support for people living with mental health concerns. Pastor Prenzler had been dismayed by the lack of social engagement and physical support - not to mention emotional and spiritual support - provided to individuals and families.

Meeting community need

The Trinity Workshop opened in Johnston Street Southport in 1972. Although relatively short-lived, the seeds had been sown and the endeavour was revived in 1975 with the Trinity Activity Centre at Cougal Street Southport. A thrift shop was soon added. A property was purchased at High Street Southport.

As the service grew and evolved over the years, the name and location changed several times. It became the Trinity Activity Therapy Centre, Trinity Training Centre, Trinity Accommodation Support Service, Trinity Disability Support Service and ultimately Trinity Community Services.

In the 2020s, more than half a century on, Trinity Community Services supports around 45 individuals and families, and employs some 40 staff. Services include NDIS individual support, supported independent living, group-based supports, short-term accommodation and support coordination.

Trinity owns three home units providing supported accommodation, and provides 24/7 support at two community share homes. The Trinity headquarters and hub is located at Railway Street Southport.

Many hands and hearts

The Trinity Community Services of today has seen many different names, locations and service models since a fledgling sheltered workshop first began in the early 70s.

All were built with the great skill, hard work and devotion of the many, many people of the Trinity congregation, service family and local community.

And it was the dream and drive of Pastor Martin Prenzler that ignited the possibility and inspired people to come together and achieve something truly remarkable.

Every individual and every iteration have played a part in making Trinity Community Services the diverse and greatly valued service it is today.

Trinity Community Services today - part of the Lutheran Services family

Lutheran Community Care was renamed Lutheran Services in 2017. As the operator of Trinity Community Services today, we recognise the considerable achievements and challenges of the past. We thank the many congregation and committee members, volunteers and supporters for their grace, devotion and hard work. Their efforts and endeavours continue to benefit Trinity’s many clients and staff today.

Lutheran Services ensures the ministry of care conceived and built by Trinity’s founders continues to thrive. We hope this Origin Story project will help to record, share and celebrate the incredible journey and spirit that built Trinity and continue to make it such a vital service.

The transition to Lutheran Community Care

In the late 1990s, increasingly complex funding and regulation requirements saw the Lutheran Church of Australia Queensland District establish an umbrella organisation—Lutheran Community Care—to manage the district’s community services and aged care operations, including Trinity.

Having worked so hard and with such devotion over more than 25 years to build a disability support
service for the Gold Coast community, many in the management committee, congregation, staff, volunteer and supporter network found this transition difficult. With the benefit of hindsight, we now see many aspects of this transition could have been better handled, resourced and supported.

What didn’t change however were the Trinity passion, compassion, vision and commitment to
empowerment, advocacy, individual potential and community connectedness.

Lutheran Services, There for you

As the manager of Trinity and many other community services and aged care centres today, Lutheran Services is a leading not-for-profit provider of human services in Queensland. As a department of the Lutheran Church of Australia Queensland District, Lutheran Services seeks to draw from, express and add to the life and mission of the Church. The organisation has grown out of the dreams and
hard work of its founding Lutheran congregations. This Origin Story is another wonderful example.

Lutheran Services draws on the rich Lutheran tradition of care for the individual, family and community. We provide services, support and accommodation for older people, young people, families, people living with disability or mental health concerns, and people experiencing domestic and family violence. We serve many metropolitan, regional and rural communities from some 25 sites throughout Queensland—from the Gold Coast to Rockhampton.

While these sites and services are very different in where they are and what they do, they all have one thing in common: they began with a local congregation working together to meet a need and serve their region and community. These endeavours were often the first services of their kind in their region. Some were the first of their kind in Queensland. Today, they are integral and highly
respected contributors to their communities and industries, providing vital care, support, employment and leadership.

Timeline

1972
  • Trinity Workshop opened at Johnston Street Southport
  • 6 participants/trainees
  • Founder: Pastor Martin Prenzler
1975
  • Trinity Activity Centre opened at Cougal Street Southport
  • 10 participants/trainees
  • Founder: Pastor Martin Prenzler
  • Volunteer supervisors/ assistants: Rose Schloss, Doreen Radke, Isabelle Thatcher
  • Volunteer teachers: Betty Worril, Pam Janetzki, Mrs Kemp
  • Trinity Bargain Shop opened under Activity Centre
  • Volunteer staff: Pauline Cave, Cathy Singho, Noreen McConkey
1976
  • Volunteer supervisors/teachers: Guenther and Lyra Nembach
  • Trinity Bargain Shop relocated to Chirn Park
  • Activity Centre expanded downstairs
1977
  • Supervisors/teachers/ assistants: Neville and Jenny Knopke, Doreen Radke
  • First aid added to curriculum
  • Horse riding program commenced
1978
  • $40,000 raised to purchase own premises
1979
  • Trinity Activity Therapy Centre opened at 146 High Street Southport
1981
  • Supervisors: Carolyn McLeod, Helen Craig
1982
  • Supervisors: Carl and Josie Heinrich
1984
  • Supervisors/Assistants: Judy Gaffney, Sylvia Cambridge
  • Supervisor/Teacher: Alan Tepper
1986
  • Secretary: Jenny Pemberton (nee Fletcher)
1987
  • 16 participants/trainees
  • Commonwealth Government funding secured
1988
  • 22 participants/trainees
  • 3 units purchased for supported accommodation
  • Service renamed Trinity Training Centre
  • Coordinator: Julie Watson
1992
  • Led development of Gold Coast Employment Support Service
1993
  • Coordinator: Judy Graham
1994
  • Support for clients with high needs commenced
  • Relocated to Seabank Building in Short Street Southport
  • Coordinator: Angie Elmes
1995
  • Coordinator: Sean De Souza
1999
  • Acting Coordinator: Jenny Pemberton (nee Fletcher)
  • Lutheran Community Care established
2000
  • Relocated to Meteora Building in Southport Mall
  • Client Lisa Pollard Sydney 2000 torchbearer
2001
  • Coordinator: Caroline McDonald
2002
  • 24/7 on-call service commenced
  • Relocated to Nerang Street Southport
  • Trinity administration transitioned to Lutheran Community Care
2005
  • 19 clients
2006
  • Acting Coordinator: Raylene Sutherland
  • Manager: Kris Zarens
2007
  • Disability Services Queensland accreditation
2008
  • Manager: Edmund McMahon
  • Renamed Trinity Disability Support Service
2010
  • 25 clients
  • Assistant Manager: Christine Martens
  • Relocated to Cotlew Street Ashmore
2013
  • Griffith University psychology student placements commenced
2014
  • Labrador House opened
2015
  • 35 clients
  • 30 staff
  • Manager: Christine Osbourne
2017
  • Lutheran Community Care renamed Lutheran Services
2018
  • NDIS commenced
2019
  • Manager: Rachael Shaw
2021
  • Renamed Trinity Community Services
  • Relocated to Railway Street Southport
  • Manager: Carolyn Nicholas
2024
  • 45 clients
  • 40 staff
1972
  • Trinity Workshop opened at Johnston Street Southport
  • 6 participants/trainees
  • Founder: Pastor Martin Prenzler
1975
  • Trinity Activity Centre opened at Cougal Street Southport
  • 10 participants/trainees
  • Founder: Pastor Martin Prenzler
  • Volunteer supervisors/ assistants: Rose Schloss, Doreen Radke, Isabelle Thatcher
  • Volunteer teachers: Betty Worril, Pam Janetzki, Mrs Kemp
  • Trinity Bargain Shop opened under Activity Centre
  • Volunteer staff: Pauline Cave, Cathy Singho, Noreen McConkey
1976
  • Volunteer supervisors/teachers: Guenther and Lyra Nembach
  • Trinity Bargain Shop relocated to Chirn Park
  • Activity Centre expanded downstairs
1977
  • Supervisors/teachers/ assistants: Neville and Jenny Knopke, Doreen Radke
  • First aid added to curriculum
  • Horse riding program commenced
1978
  • $40,000 raised to purchase own premises
1979
  • Trinity Activity Therapy Centre opened at 146 High Street Southport
1981
  • Supervisors: Carolyn McLeod, Helen Craig
1982
  • Supervisors: Carl and Josie Heinrich
1984
  • Supervisors/Assistants: Judy Gaffney, Sylvia Cambridge
  • Supervisor/Teacher: Alan Tepper
1986
  • Secretary: Jenny Pemberton (nee Fletcher)
1987
  • 16 participants/trainees
  • Commonwealth Government funding secured
1988
  • 22 participants/trainees
  • 3 units purchased for supported accommodation
  • Service renamed Trinity Training Centre
  • Coordinator: Julie Watson
1992
  • Led development of Gold Coast Employment Support Service
1993
  • Coordinator: Judy Graham
1994
  • Support for clients with high needs commenced
  • Relocated to Seabank Building in Short Street Southport
  • Coordinator: Angie Elmes
1995
  • Coordinator: Sean De Souza
1999
  • Acting Coordinator: Jenny Pemberton (nee Fletcher)
  • Lutheran Community Care established
2000
  • Relocated to Meteora Building in Southport Mall
  • Client Lisa Pollard Sydney 2000 torchbearer
2001
  • Coordinator: Caroline McDonald
2002
  • 24/7 on-call service commenced
  • Relocated to Nerang Street Southport
  • Trinity administration transitioned to Lutheran Community Care
2005
  • 19 clients
2006
  • Acting Coordinator: Raylene Sutherland
  • Manager: Kris Zarens
2007
  • Disability Services Queensland accreditation
2008
  • Manager: Edmund McMahon
  • Renamed Trinity Disability Support Service
2010
  • 25 clients
  • Assistant Manager: Christine Martens
  • Relocated to Cotlew Street Ashmore
2013
  • Griffith University psychology student placements commenced
2014
  • Labrador House opened
2015
  • 35 clients
  • 30 staff
  • Manager: Christine Osbourne
2017
  • Lutheran Community Care renamed Lutheran Services
2018
  • NDIS commenced
2019
  • Manager: Rachael Shaw
2021
  • Renamed Trinity Community Services
  • Relocated to Railway Street Southport
  • Manager: Carolyn Nicholas
2024
  • 45 clients
  • 40 staff