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It is a special privilege to be part of a church family like St John’s with its particular historical importance in Australia. As we were reminded at our 220th Anniversary celebrations a few years ago, St John’s has been at the heart of the life of the colony since its inception and now remains an important landmark in modern Parramatta; “the jewel in Parramatta’s heritage crown”. I recently attended an event at Old Government House and it was remarkable to think that our first St John’s building was from the same era. The two towers remain from then, even though the St John’s of today is a later 1850s construction.

St John’s was the base of the second chaplain of the Colony, Samuel Marsden. In many ways we can trace so much of the spread of Christian ministry in Australia from this one location. That’s a heritage that we ought to be very thankful to God for.

This Sunday we will have a small celebration of the 200th (and a bit!) birthday of the newly-restored clock in our north tower. The clock is one of 5 that were gifted to the Colony by then King George IV in 1821 to celebrate his accession to the throne and in response to the apparently very irregular timekeeping here! The newly installed clock would have made St John’s a very important, even vital, part of Parramatta.

Today it can often feel that we have lost our place in civic life. People pass by St John’s and don’t even know that we’re open, let alone alive. People of faith can feel pushed away from the centre of things. As we celebrate our history we can be tempted to yearn for what seem to have been “better” days. But the reality is something very different.

We have more people coming under the gospel of Christ at St John’s than at any time in our history. We’ve only begun to activate our grounds in an attempt to reach out to the local community. St John’s is still very much at the heart of Parramatta and the opportunities are huge.

This weekend, as we reflect on our history and rightly give thanks to God for ministry of the past, can I encourage you to consider what you might do to be part of the ministry of now! Marsden arrived to pick up a pioneering work and that task remains today: to see our city transformed by the hope of the risen Christ. In years to come, if the Lord tarries, there will be people looking back at 2024 and thanking God for the history of what He did amongst us then as we become a chapter of the ongoing gospel legacy of St John’s. My prayer is that you would be eager to play your part in it!

David Ould
Senior Associate Minister