Essay 8 — A Movement or an Organisation for a New Century (1990-2020)

The 1990s Cultural Fall-Out for Teen Challenge Australia Inc. and the Associated Churches.

The argument of this history of Teen Challenge Inc. is that the organisation entered a difficult maturing phase of the 1990s. Much of the early twentieth-first century was a massive rebuild to recover from the challenges. The challenges were two, the State and the Society. Both had changed with the year 1989 as a clear marker.

Much credit in the years that followed goes to Alex Spencer, as Executive Director, Teen Challenge Inc., and Teen Challenge National Director and Queensland State Director from 1991 to 2000. There also new leadership of managers and directors. One example is Bob Engwicht. Bob Engwicht (manager of the residential services) who would move on to commence Teen Challenge in Tasmania. Engwich was responsible for the Tour De Freedom Bike Ride, the community workday implemented, and which was much more than a fundraising event.  There were many more, and a few mentioned here.

The Program Operations Manager Craig Watson was appointed Manager of the New Life Centre, and Hebron House fell under Alanna Fraser to become a part of the Outreach division. Peter Sewell was the Outreach Regional Worker, based at Head Office, Teen Challenge Care (Qld) Ltd, in Mount Gravatt (P.O. Box 895, QLD 4122). Among others:

  • Glen Schaefer, Outreach Coordinator, Teen Challenge Inc.
  • Andrew Staggs, Manager, Accounting, Administrator & Training, Teen Challenge Inc.
  • Ruth Richards, Manager, Accounting, Administrator & Training, Teen Challenge Inc.
  • Phillip Job, Accountant and Administrator, Teen Challenge Inc.
  • Rebekah Mullins, Marketing & Promotions Coordinator, Teen Challenge Inc.
  • Debbie Peters, Training School Administrator, Teen Challenge Inc.
  • Betty Steffan, Secretary, Teen Challenge Inc.

There were also an unnamed legal manager and a funding manager, at least one. There stories are just as important to the grand narrative.

Figure 1. Teen Challenge workers in Charities Week, Queens Mall, Brisbane City, 1991. Teen Challenge Inc. (Qld)

The Changing World and the Teen Challenge Worldview

As the organisation had its periodical turnover in staff members and managers, the older workers were heading off to different parts of the world. Societies across the globe were changing and those who once been active in the organisation also had their view of the world change. New staff members and managers also brought new thinking into the organisation than it had been in decades previously.

The Assemblies of God Churches

In the 1990s a restructure of the outreach program produced a new branch system across Assemblies of God churches. The scheme appeared to be most in effect between 1993 and 2011. Each Assemblies of God congregation, across Queensland, had a branch coordinator appointed. The spread of the work can be seen in the table:

Time Range Persons Description
1993-2006 Katie Muller Hills AOG
1994-1998 Alex Cottrell Ferny Hills
1994-1998 Nerissa Saville Raceview
1994-1999 Christel Hetherington, Craig Furneaux Crestmead
1994-1999 Matt Brady Maroochydore
1994-1999 Maureen Young Rosewood AOG
1994-1999 Trevor Young Rosewood AOG
1994-1999 Sandy Parker South Burnett Ministries
1994-2000 Alan Keirle, Cheryl Keirle Living Waters Christian Centre
1994-2001 Brian Clothier Hinterland Christian Centre
1994-2003 Daniel Ruse Strathpine Community AOG
1994-2004 Lucas Jones, Sharon Jones Calvary AOG, Townsville
1994-2004 Moss Boer, Berend Boer Regional Support Home, Teen Challenge Inc., Townsville QLD 4810
1994-2004 Bruce Lindlley Set Free Gold Coast Ministries
1994-2004 Nathan Coleman Townsville
1994-2005 Neil Williamson Laidley AOG
1994-2005 Mark Davidson Twin Rivers
1994-2005 Bob Engwicht Twin Rivers Christian Family
1994-2006 Mark Westbrook Deception Bay
1994-2007 Andrew Staggs Garden City Christian Church
1994-2010 Craig Wood Ipswich Region Community Church
1994-2010 John Lewis Northside Christian Family Church, 151 Flockton Street, Everton Park QLD 4053
1994-2010 Steve Morgan Northside Christian Family, 151 Flockton Street, Everton Park QLD 4053
1995-2000 Kylie Smith Caloundra
1995-2004 Lynda Stephens Gladstone Christian Family Centre
1995-2006 Craig Tomkinson, Ron Anning Emerald
1995-2006 Shane Wallis Roma AOG
1995-2006 David Rauchle The Lighthouse AOG
1995-2010 Nathan Taylor, Steve Cannon Charters Towers
1995-2011 Pauline Peake Regional Support Home, Teen Challenge Inc., Toowoomba QLD 4350
1995-2011 Jennifer Nothdurft Spring Street AOG, Toowoomba
1995-2011 Robert Dickson Toowoomba
1996-1999 Jeff Marshall Albany Creek
1996-1999 Frank Corneloup Blackwater
1996-1999 Fiona Turner Surfers Paradise AOG
1996-2002 Justin Evans Glasshouse Country AOG
1996-2003 Tony O’Toole Riverside Assembly
1996-2004 Roslyn Wallace North Rockhampton Assembly
1997-2006 Ben Baxter Maryborough New Life Centre
1998-1999 Helen Mack Parklands Christian Centre
1998-1999 Glen Gerreyn X-Treme Youth & Community Association
1998-2000 Peter Patterson Sun City Assembly
1998-2006 Robert Hooke Gateway Life Centre


Jubilee Fellowship and Pub Theology

Jubilee Fellowship and what came after should not be forgotten. They were Teen Challenge Inc. of the past – as former clients, trainee graduates, and staff workers. As some point Jubilee Fellowship ceased to be a regular congregational gathering but it never ceased to be a community. From 2014 to 2020, the community revived as the ‘Pub Theology’ gatherings, and the stories are told in Irene Alexander and Charles Ringma (2021) Pub Theology: Where Potato Wedges and a Beer are a Eucharistic Experience.

Figure 2. Parting of the Ways, Teen Challenge Inc. and Jubilee Fellowship, Claude in 1990. Source: Teen Challenge Inc. (Qld)

Figure 3. Cover of the Book on Pub Theology (Jubilee Fellowship) Community, 2020. Source: Dr Neville Buch Archives

Further New Governance and Administration

In the last 30 years new life experience and professional skills were added to the Teen Challenge Inc. Board, with appointments of the Executive Directors, Alec Spencer, Alan Le May, and Joanne Hobbs. What was new was never completely new, but the representation shifted with clearer input from the medical profession, different types of private business and public service experience, and an intellectual maturity happening in small pockets of the Assemblies of God:

Figure 4. A younger Alan Le May, Teen Challenge Leadership. Source: Teen Challenge Inc. (Qld)

Mike London, Patron, Teen Challenge Inc.,

Mike Tidbold, Chairman, Board of Management, Teen Challenge Inc., Queensland Director, JLW Transact.

Glen Ryan, Chairman, Board of Management, Teen Challenge Inc., Insurance Broker.

Craig Middleton, Chairman, Board of Management, Teen Challenge Inc., Human Resource Manager.

David McDougall, Chairman, Board of Management, Teen Challenge Inc., Director, KPMG Peat Marwick Corporate.

David Hunt, Chairman, Board of Management, Teen Challenge Inc., Medical Practitioner.

Dennis O’Brien, Deputy Chairman, Board of Management, Teen Challenge Inc., Principal, Human Services, Queensland Police Service.

Catherine Corney, Deputy Chairman, Board of Management, Teen Challenge Inc., General Practitioner.

Matthew Parker, Deptuty Chairman, Board of Management, Teen Challenge Inc., IT Director.

Chris Booker, Treasurer, Board of Management, Teen Challenge Inc., Director of Audit, Harts Accountants and Auditors.

Alan Davidson, Treasurer, Board of Management, Teen Challenge Inc., Accountant.

Grahame Thompson, Treasurer, Board of Management, Teen Challenge Inc.

Gary Uhlmann, Secretary, Board of Management, Teen Challenge Inc., Executive Director, Department of Transport.

Gary Swenson, Member, Board of Management, Teen Challenge Inc., Pastor, Grovely Assembly of God, District Superintendent, Senior Minister, Hills AOG.

Catherine Bartholomew, Member, Board of Management, Teen Challenge Inc., General Practitioner.

Samantha Wedd, Member, Board of Management, Teen Challenge Inc., Clinical Psychologist and Lecturer.

Lisa Hagan, Member, Board of Management, Teen Challenge Inc., Solicitor.

Sune Eriksson, Member, Board of Management, Teen Challenge Inc., Business Consultant.

Rod Jobe, Member, Board of Management, Teen Challenge Inc., TC Chaplain and Senior Pastor, Parklands Christian Centre.

Ross Smith, Member, Board of Management, Teen Challenge Inc., TC Chaplain, Pastor, Garden City Christian Church; Secondary School Teacher.

Heidi Robertson, Member, Board of Management, Teen Challenge Inc., Psychologist.

Joy Graetz, Member, Board of Management, Teen Challenge Inc., Pastor.

Steve Davies, Member, Board of Management, Teen Challenge Inc., Asset Development Manager.

Rod McGarvie, Member, Board of Management, Teen Challenge Inc., Business Administration.

Kelley Noonan, Member, Board of Management, Teen Challenge Inc., Project Manager.


Each Board member has a story to tell, valuable to the grand narrative.

Corporate Management

Figure 5. Jason speaking at Teen Challenge 20th Anniversary, 1991. Source: Teen Challenge Inc. (Qld)

Understanding the skill set of the Board Members tells us the sub-narrative of evolution of the corporate management in Teen Challenge Inc. over the past three decades: Lisa Hagan as a Business Development Analyst, David McDougall as a Director for KPMG Peat Marwick Corporate, Mike Tidbold as a Director, JLW Transact, Queensland, Glen Ryan as an Insurance Broker, and several other business consultants.

Human Resources Management

The same can be said for the new emerging area of Human Resources Management, with Dennis O’Brien as the Principal, Human Services, Queensland Police Force, and Craig Middleton as a Human Resource Professional.

IT and Asset Management

Equally the same said for the booming area of IT and Asset Management, with Matthew Parker an IT Director and Steve Davies an Asset Development Manager.

Medical Management and Mental Health, and Spirituality

The area of medical management in Teen Challenge Inc. was well represented, much better than it had before. It expressed the spirituality that Charles Ringma had brought to his teaching on social medicine at the University of Queensland in the previous era.

Medical Profession

In the last 30 years the Board had several medical/general practitioners, Dr Catherine Bartholomew, and David Hunt.

Mental Health Profession

However, what extraordinary was the increase in the representation of mental health professionals in Teen Challenge Inc., usually clinical psychologists or counsellors and trained therapists: Samantha Wedd, Heidi Robertson, and Miranda Reid.

Spirituality Profession

Spirituality had become ‘secularised’ in the medical and mental health profession. Traditional spirituality continued in Teen Challenge Inc., although the representation from what once was called ministers of religion declined. In recent times only Pastor Joy Graetz and Pastor Rodney Jobe joined the Board as a traditional spiritual leader for Teen Challenge Inc. The hold on the Assemblies of God had been broken. However, there were other recent historical players to strengthen, not the institution, but its spiritual growth.

Lives of Community Members

The representation in the Board reflected what was going on in the wide community of Teen Challenge Inc. All of the board members were large teams under the different Chairmanships – as David McDougall 1998-2004, Glen Ryan 2005-2006, Craig Middleton 2007-2009, David Hunt 2010-2015, Matthew Parker 2016-2019. Those team members spent time in the Teen Challenge Inc. Office environment and acted with the appropriate hands of governance. Part of the neo-conservative ‘neo con’ are the walls of separations, in an effort to keep workers, managers, governors, and owners as far as part as possible.


The era began with the end of directorship of Jean Claude Boulenaz. In the previous eras the small team which serviced the directorship were the likes of Charles Ringma, Ian Thompson, Albert Hall, Harvey Pollock, as the Executive Director, Acting Director, Administrator, Business Deputation Officer, in Teen Challenge Inc.

Alan Le May’s executive direction for Board governance was more in the 1990s corporate outlook. It has a degree of rationalisation and central control, but organisational restructuring was more like a desperate reassembling the same persons and same roles. There were differences that governance and management brought in new organisational restructures, but the quality and nature of the actual differences is contestable and unclear. The suspicion from the critics on differing issues is that the change was semantics, falling into line with the tyranny of the public relations language, with little substantial change in the activities. In many ways the activities change dramatically by the regaining the losses from a program closure in the past. Old programs would close and new programs open, but then, in time, old programs would be reinvented as if new. The socio-economic neo-conservatism is a ‘neo con’, or even old con.

Joanne Hobbs’s term as the Executive Director has most likely began to move things back into a far more stable arrangement. It is difficult to tell, given that these types of the judgement require greater historical distance. However, what we do know is that the revulsion to socio-economic neo-conservatism began to run deep a decade ago, at the same time which saw the rise of both left-wing and right-wing populism. The populism has meld ideologies in all directions, but it owes much the neo-conservative thinking on the Right in the rhetoric of small government and private markets as saviours, and on the Left, in the rhetoric of big government and masses of ‘the common person’ as saviours. All these narratives are the populist messages politicians manipulate. In the middle Centrists of different brands are fighting back with the popular appeals to critical thinking, compatibilism, and a type of vague ‘togetherness.’ Teen Challenge Inc. has a mission and all those persons of Teen Challenge want to do is to fulfil that mission. But as soon as the mission is described and then explained, the challenges begin.