THE Exclusive Brethren Christian Fellowship will open its doors in Ipswich at the weekend.
Labelled a cult by former prime minister Kevin Rudd in 2007, the Brethren will open its new church at the end of Windle Road, Brassall, on Saturday.
The move has outraged local residents, who say the church is a threat to their way of life.
“We didn’t know we’d end up with a stinking church down there,” said one long-term Windle Road resident, who wished to remain anonymous.
“We don’t need this in our street. I’m really cheesed off about it. The more you read about these people, the more you start to worry about what’s going on.
“I thought about putting my house on the market when I heard about it. You live here, you pay your bloody rates and now a church can come in and do whatever they want.
“It’s been built, it’s opening and that’s it. There’s nothing we can do about it now.”
Workmen were putting the finishing touches on the rendered brick building yesterday.
It is surrounded by a black steel picket fence and has a sprawling car park and landscaped gardens.
Similar churches have been built in Gympie and Bulimba.
A Brethren spokesman confirmed the “meeting room” would open this weekend.
“A church has been built over the past year and it will be operational from this weekend,” the spokesman told The Queensland Times.
Division Six Councillor Cheryl Bromage said she had already welcomed the church and its members to Ipswich.
“I’m happy. I’ve been to the church a number of times myself,” she said.
“If it was so exclusive people like me wouldn’t be invited in.
“The Brethren do a lot of things for charities in the area. I know last week they donated $10,000 to CareFlight and the companies they own employ more than 100 people in Wulkuraka.”
Cr Bromage said the development was approved as a place of worship in March 2007.
The application was lodged by Ipswich Gospel Trust.
“You don’t judge these people by their religion,” she said.
“They’re part of the community and very welcoming people.”
But another concerned Brassall resident who contacted The QT said the Brethren should practice what it preached.
“How can you talk about inclusion when the church hides behind fences and concrete walls? This whole process was kept very quiet,” the resident said.
“You have to wonder what they’re hiding and why more people haven’t been asking questions about the building appearing out of nowhere.
“I don’t think this will go away very quietly.”
The Brethren hosts daily hour-long scripture meetings and congregates on Sunday for the Lord’s Supper and preaching of the Gospel.
It made national headlines in 2007 when Mr Rudd said the church split up families.
The group’s website says there are more than 40,000 Exclusive Brethren worldwide, who gather in more than 300 local assemblies across 19 countries.
“The Exclusive Brethren use The New Translation by John Nelson Darby, a more exact translation from the Original Languages,” the website says.
“They also respect, and quote from, the Authorised or King James version, widely used in parliaments and the courts.
“The Exclusive Brethren generally operate family businesses, recognising the responsibility to support their families financially.”