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St Mark's Anglican Church South Hurstville: Centenary

by Rev'd Peter Greenwood, Rector and Bruce Cooke, Coordinator, Centenary Committee.

'Re-connect with St Mark's and God' was the theme of the centenary of the dedication of the first St Mark's South Hurstville. The weekend of celebrations included a 7.15pm Evensong on Friday 2 August—the actual anniversary date—and a 4pm Choral Eucharist on Sunday 4 August 2019.

Many former parishioners and several former parish clergy returned for the Sunday Eucharist, at which Dr Glenn Davies, Archbishop of Sydney presided and preached. One of the largest representative groups of former parishioners was St Mark's Youth Forum—the youth fellowship—that was established in 1943 on the initiative of the first Curate-in-charge, Revd William Brice. At this time, St Mark's, along with several other churches in the St George area, was a daughter church of the St George's Hurstville. The infamous Forum was a significant spiritual and social force in South Hurstville and the surrounding suburbs.

Archbishop Glenn Davies, Rector, clergy and choir

Archbishop Glenn Davies, Rector, clergy and choir

At the Eucharist, Dr Davies preached on 'living stones' from Peter's first epistle. The central theme was that it is the people of God who are the living stones, and that was true one hundred years ago, and is true today. God is building his church upon the foundation stone of Jesus Christ, and so it is right and proper for us to rejoice and thank God for all that he has done in and through the people of God at St Mark's. More, that we should ask God that he would continue his work of building his church for the next one hundred years.

At the dinner that followed, the Hon David Coleman MP and Councillor Kathryn Landsberry (representing the Mayor of Georges River Council) spoke of the strong connections that St Mark's has with the local community.

The Rector, Peter Greenwood gave thanks for the past 100 years and spoke of the will of God for our lives—to rejoice always, to pray without ceasing and to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess 5.16–17). "We rejoice in our celebration, and we prayerfully give thanks to God on this special occasion."

St Mark's Centenary Committee published a booklet, People of God, ($10 per copy)—Enquiries at centenary@southhurstville.anglican.asn.au The booklet focuses on the people of St Mark's and the connections with the community, concluding with a chapter on 'looking forward'. The rector, Peter Greenwood writes:

The velocity of change in our society seems to be only increasing—including changes in family structures, in technology, in the workforce and in workforce participation, in cultural mores, political and religious affiliation, just to name a few. And yet, there is little consideration given to the toll of change—including the increase in marriage breakdowns, higher suicide rates, mental health issues, social dysfunction, alcoholism and gambling addiction... So, the future of St Mark's lies in its capacity to be a light on a hill in a time of turbulent spiritual, moral, and relational darkness.

The single bell of the first St Mark's Church was re-dedicated and displayed in a specially designed cabinet as a memorial of the centenary. In addition, new linen with appropriate hand-stitched text, for the Lord's Table was dedicated at the Evensong.

As the early Anglican community grew, the first St Mark's Church was becoming too small. Land in the same street, The Mall was purchased and the second and larger St Mark's was dedicated in 1960. In 1969, the adjacent Christian Education Centre was dedicated—part of which now houses St Mark's Pre-school Kindergarten.

St Mark's continues to work 'to see Christ honoured as Lord and Saviour in our community', basing its program on the 'Five Marks of Mission' adopted by the Anglican Communion:

  • Witness to Christ's saving, forgiving, reconciling love for all people
  • Build welcoming, transforming communities of faith
  • Stand in solidarity with the poor and needy
  • Challenge violence, injustice and oppression, and work for peace and reconciliation
  • Protect, care for and renew life on our planet.

St Mark's early Sunday Eucharist is noted for its liturgical worship and choral tradition suited to those in southern Sydney who value contemporary liturgy in traditional style. The second 'family service' of praise and prayer is informal and attracting young families.