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Mervyn Desmond Zischke (1927–1988)

by A. Haebich

This article was published:

Mervyn Desmond Zischke (1927-1988), apostle and leader of the Apostolic Church of Queensland, was born on 24 March 1927 at Hatton Vale, Queensland, second surviving son of Henry Zischke, farmer, and his wife Agnes, née Sempf. His father was the son of Wilhelm Zischke, who had migrated to Australia from Prussia in 1878 and taken up land at Hatton Vale. Both his parents were closely related to leaders of the Apostolic Church of Queensland; his mother was a granddaughter of its founder H. F. Niemeyer, who had arrived in Australia in 1883. Mervyn’s parents opened their home to all needy families in the district and this instilled the virtues of love and compassion that shaped his life.

Mervyn attended Hatton Vale State School from 1933 to 1940. He then worked on the family dairy farm and was sent out by his parents to help local farmers. On 1 September 1948 at the local Apostolic Church, he married Myrtle Violet Hahn. They moved north to live on her father’s sugar-cane farm at Childers, where they remained until 1977. While working on the farm he took a leading role in the local Bundaberg community of the Apostolic Church and in 1961 was ordained deacon. In 1965 he was appointed to the priest office for the Maryborough community, a position that involved frequent long trips away from home on church business. Zischke was also an active and respected member of the broader Childers community. A councillor (1958-77) of the Isis Shire Council and a member of the executive of the Isis District Cane Growers over a similar period, he was also vice-president of the Isis District Pastoral, Agricultural and Industrial Society show and vice-president of the Isis District Horse and Pony Club.

On 10 April 1977 Zischke was ordained apostle for the southern district and returned with his wife to live at Hatton Vale. He worked full time for the church and, as an apostle, was supported financially by the community. A guest at many church social functions, he was a man of average height and solid build who always enjoyed the plentiful food; church members recall that this was ‘reflected in his stature’. In 1983 Zischke presided over the celebrations at Hatton Vale of the centenary of the establishment of the Apostolic Church of Queensland and spoke on the steadfast faith that had sustained the church over the years.

In January 1988, following the death of Apostle Arnold Zielke, Zischke took over leadership of the Apostolic Church of Queensland, becoming the sole apostle. This was a demanding position that involved extensive travel to remote communities. Survived by his wife and their son and daughter, he died of pylonephritis on 27 November 1988 at Ipswich and was buried in the Apostolic Church cemetery, Hatton Vale. Church officers and members had appreciated his dedication to the church and his deep care for the community.

Select Bibliography

  • Hatton Vale State School Centenary (1981)
  • The Apostolic Church of Queensland and Hatton Vale Community Centenary 1883-1983 (1983)
  • B. O’Neill, Taming of the Isis (1987)
  • private information.

Citation details

A. Haebich, 'Zischke, Mervyn Desmond (1927–1988)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2012, accessed online 30 November 2023.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (Melbourne University Press), 2012

View the front pages for Volume 18

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2023

Life Summary [details]


24 March, 1927
Hatton Vale, Queensland, Australia


27 November, 1988 (aged 61)
Ipswich, Queensland, Australia

Cause of Death

kidney disease

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

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Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.