Twenty five years ago Lance dreamt about an on-call, rapid response, crisis intervention ministry for the streets. One of the unique features was that it would be mobile and not tied to an office nor normal office hours. His desire was to see this unique and challenging dream come true.
In 2000 he began a simple outreach service to the Fortitude Valley area on Friday and Saturday nights.
On 11 September 2001, and about four hours before that historical world shattering disaster in New York, Lance was on duty as Chaplain, in the Valley area, when a street fight broke out. Three men traded punches and wrestled each other until one was pushed through a shopfront plate glass window. The result was an arm being severely severed, cutting the artery. Blood flowed so freely that within a couple of minutes blood was freely flowing into the gutter. Lance stepped in administering life saving first aid. Paramedics maintained that within five minutes, if untreated, he would die. The Police responded similarly and cordoned off the area making it a serious crime scene.
On the 8 January 2002, Lance was presented with a Commissioners Commendation award for bravery, citing, “…rendering life-saving first aid to a critically injured person under difficult circumstances and at personal risk…”
The commitment, passion and purpose of Lance is something to behold. His regard for others so outweighs any regard he has for himself. He is driven to bring peace, safety, care, understanding, dignity, wisdom to the streets of our city.
Lance has had a long association with city streets, having ministered on the streets of Kings Cross for almost 15 years as well as in Parramatta, Penrith, Canberra, Wollongong, Newcastle, Griffith, and the Central Coast. Now he has been focusing on Brisbane’s inner-city and Valley area since 2000.
He is an Ordained Minister with the Assemblies of God in Australia. Lance is also a Social Welfare Worker and Counsellor majoring in Alcohol and other Drugs, Crisis Intervention, Suicide and Self Harm, Mediation and Critical Incident Stress Intervention. He’s worked professionally as a Social Welfare Worker with the Department of Children’s Services Queensland 1974-1979, an Alcohol and Other Drug Worker, Trainer and Rehabilitator 1984-1996.
In this time he was the CEO of Teen Challenge NSW which was the second largest Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation facility in Australia. He implemented programmes and treatment regimes that are followed today in certain major rehabilitation facilities with great success. Also Lance has been a supervisor and case-worker with work creation schemes such as LEAP and Jobskills programmes 1996-1998.
As an Ordained Minister since 1981 Lance has been the Pastor of three Churches; 1981-1986, 1998-2000, 2004-2005.
Lance comments, “It is an honour to serve my community, but the greatest joy and satisfaction I have is working with a team of men and women who are equally committed to the vision as well as their community because they are simply the salt of the earth.”
It was with great honour that Lance Mergard accepted the Brisbane Citizen of the Year award on Thursday 24 January 2013 from The Right Honourable The Lord Mayor, Councillor Graham Quirk for his ongoing commitment to the service of ChaplainWatch and the Brisbane community. Award winners for 2013 were recognising those who have made Brisbane a better place to be.