An index of biographies and memorials can be found at Memorials of St. John’s,
including past rectors, clergy and many other parishioners and friends of St. John’s.
The Reverend James Norman, chaplain, 1827-1828
The Revd. James Norman of James Norman was appointed by the Lieutenant Governor of the colony as acting chaplain of Launceston “until the pleasure of His Majesty be known”, indicating that Mr Norman was a temporary appointment with responsibility for St. John’s Church Launceston, awaiting the finalisation of Dr Browne’s appointment some time later. See this Trove reference.
The. Rev. James Norman, the author of Aborigines of Tasmania.—the Norman vocabulary, was for some years attached to a Mission in Sierra Leone. He arrived in Tasmania in 1827, and after temporary employment in Launceston and at New Town, he was appointed in 1832 to the Chaplaincy of Sorell, which at that time included Richmond and Tasman’s Peninsula, and extended to Swansea, on the East Coast.
His removal to Hobart upon his retirement from Sorell in 1867 was soon followed by his death in 1868. On the day of his funeral all public ofifices in Hobart were closed by order of the Governor, as a testimony of respect for his long and valuable services to the colony.
The Reverend William Henry Browne, rector 1828-1868
This short biography of William Henry Browne was kindly provided by Gill Morris, whose edition of the journal of Revd. Browne, “His Record is on High”, gives a full and fascinating insight into his life and times as rector of St. John’s Church, Launceston.
The Reverend William Henry Browne, LL D, was rector of St John’s Church from November 1828 until June 1868.
William Henry Browne was born on 20 August 1800, the eldest son of Henry Browne, Barrister-at-Law, and Isabella, daughter of banker William Galwey, Esq., of Mallow. He spent his early years in Mallow where he attended Mr Hopley’s ‘gentlemen’s boarding academy’. Shortly after his mother’s death, he entered Trinity College, Dublin, in October 1817 and graduated BA in 1822. There, while studying for Holy Orders, he came under the influence of the evangelical revival within the Established Church of Ireland, a movement promoting more diligent pursuit of parish duties by priests and their involvement in education and missionary agencies. In October 1824, Browne was ordained deacon and was appointed on a small stipend to the curacy of Whitechurch, a parish with an absentee rector, located eight kilometres north west of Cork; he was priested in April 1825.
No doubt, filled with missionary zeal, he soon appreciated that his opportunities for personal advancement and greater financial security in Ireland were slight, and fortuitously through the influence of Lord Shannon, a Colonial Chaplaincy in Van Diemen’s Land was offered to him. Before leaving Ireland, he was awarded the degree of LLD ‘special gratia’ by Trinity College, Dublin, and he sailed from Cork to Hobart Town on the Coronet on 1 May 1828.
On his arrival, he was one of only six colonial chaplains in Van Diemen’s Land. Appointed to the recently built St John’s Church, Launceston, his parish encompassed the entire north east of the island. His duties were onerous requiring a man of prodigious physical energy and stamina. Each week, he held three services on Sunday and one on Wednesday at St John’s and conducted services at the Gaol, Penitentiary and Hospital. His duties also included inspecting the government schools at Launceston and George Town. He rode, walked and occasionally sailed to visit his more isolated parishioners and paid regular visits to George Town and both sides of the Tamar River, and also Norfolk Plains(Longford) until the appointment of the Reverend Robert Rowland Davies (1805-1880) there. As more settlements grew, he oversaw the extension of Anglican parishes throughout the north and engaged with ministers of other denominations. He was also instrumental in the establishment of the Launceston Church Grammar School, the Launceston Bank for Savings, the Launceston Benevolent Society and the Bible Society during the 1830s as well as involvement in other local organisations.
Less than a year after his arrival, Browne married Caroline Willis, second daughter of Richard and Anne Willis , of Wanstead Park, Conara, and rather than build a rectory on the land adjacent to his church, he built a house (Bifrons) on his own land at the corner of High Street and Patersons Plains (now Elphin) Road. There Caroline gave birth to four babies, two sons and two daughters before she succumbed to pulmonary consumption which claimed her life in February 1845.
He remarried in June, 1846. His thirty year old Irish bride was Julia Gavan, whose father had been rector of the parish of Wallstown, County Cork. Four more children were soon added to his family. He continued to take a prominent role in the Launceston Church Grammar School, St John’s (private) Hospital and the Launceston Bank for Savings and also in the anti transportation movement. His relationship with Bishop Nixon soured as he opposed High Church practices and there were several well publicised clashes. Regarding himself as the senior chaplain in the north, it must have been disappointing when his friend, the Reverend R R Davies, was appointed the first Archdeacon of Launceston in 1850.
Browne had never taken a long absence from his parochial duties and was granted extended leave to return to Ireland in 1853 after the death of his father. He had inherited his family’s Ballinvoher estate although its income would not have sustained him and his family. During his absence, the Venerable R R Davies moved to Hobart as Archdeacon and the Reverend William Tancred was appointed Archdeacon of Launceston.
The Browne family returned to their home at Bifrons in November 1855 and the rector continued his parochial and other duties and oversaw extensions to St John’s. After serving faithfully for forty years, aged sixty eight, Browne requested to retire in 1868, stating:
In the performance of [my] duties, I have ridden upwards of 24,000 miles,
& in open boat about 3,200, I preached more than 4,000 times to free
Congregations & 2,000 to inmates of the Jails & Penitentiaries. My
Parish register records the entry, during my Ministry, of 1,834 Marriages,
1,822 Churchings, 4,153 Baptisms and 2,231 Burials, an amount seldom
if ever equalled in the hist[ory] of the Col[onial] church, & wh[ich] I trust
will be kindly & liberally considered by his Ex[cellenc]y the Gov[erno]r
W H Browne Senior Chaplain of Tasmania.
His request was granted and he received a pension of £404/5/0d, soon increased to £ 413/4/5d. per annum.
In August 1870, he was appointed Archdeacon of Launceston , a role he fulfilled until his death at Bifrons on 18 June 1877. He was buried at the Church of England Burial Ground in Cypress Street with the utmost simplicity, according to his instructions.
The Reverend Elias C. Champion, rector 1887-1890
The following entries relating to The Revd. Elias Champion were found in on a website covering the cemeteries of the North-West coast of Tasmania. They give some biographical details on the life of one of the former rectors of St. John’s.
Link to Elias Champion, Forth Anglican Pioneer Cemetery
Elias Champion – Forth Anglican Pioneer Cemetery
Died 3rd Jun 1898 Age 66 years. Headstone
CHAMPION – On June 3, at “Fern Hill,” Kindred, the Rev. Elias Champion, formerly incumbent of Forth and Leven and latterly of St. John’s Launceston, aged 66 years.
The North West Post 4th Jun 1898
The funeral of the late Rev. E. Champion will leave his late residence, “Fern Hill,” Forth, on Sunday, at 2 o’clock, for the Anglican Cemetery. Geo Bonner Undertaker
The North West Post 4th Jun 1898
Another old and honoured resident of West Devon has passed away in the person of the Rev. E. Champion, who was for many years rector of the parish of Forth and Leven. Deceased has been in feeble health for some years and the end was not unexpected. Whilst he was rector of Forth and Leven he was respected as a thorough Christian gentleman. After leaving the Forth he was appointed Rector of St. John’s Launceston, residing there on the break-up of his health and retiring to his sons farm at Kindred. The deceased leaves a family, all of whom are grown up.
The North West Post 4th Jun 1898
The funeral of the Rev. E. Champion, Church of England minister, took place at the Forth on Sunday. The deceased was highly respected and that fact, together with the sad circumstances preceding his death, led to a large number of people attending the funeral. Death took place the previous Friday, after an illness of about ten years duration, the result of an accident, and during the greater portion of that period the rev gentleman was almost helpless. At the time mentioned he was riding along the Don tramway, going to conduct service in a part of his parish, when by some means, not yet explained, he was unseated and was in a semi-conscious condition. From that time creeping paralysis set in. He was removed to Launceston, but, continuing to get worse instead of better, he had to retire from the church and since then has lived at the Forth. The Rev. Mr. De Coetlogon conducted the burial service and delivered an impressive address in the church. Deceased was 66 years of age and had been a widower for many years, but he leaves a grown up family. One son, also a clergyman, is head master of the Sydney Church of England Grammar School; another is manager of the Bank of Australasia in Ulverstone, while others are engaged in pastoral pursuits in New South Wales and West Australia. One daughter is married to Mr. James Fulton, brother to Mr. G. A. Fulton, police clerk at Devonport
The North West Post 4th Jun 1898
The Reverend Canon R. C. Nugent Kelly, rector, 1891-1896
In time, we hope to provide biographical details of the life and service of Revd. Canon Nugent Kelly, but some aspects of his work can be read in relation to the history of St. Aidan’s Church, East Launceston, which was originally a missionary endeavour of St. John’s Church.
The Venerable A. Richard Beresford, rector, 1897-1908
Some insight into the life of The Ven. A. Richard Beresford can be found in the following obituary. Beresford presided over one of the most dramatic and challenging periods of the history of St. John’s, during which the massive rebuilding into a cathedral-like structure was planned, funded and begun.
From The Advocate newspaper, Burnie, 5th December 1935 (Trove entry)
OBITUARY. THE LATE ARCHDEACON BERESFORD – Brilliant Church Career
Wednesday. – The death at Hobart of Venerable Archdeacon Alfred Richard Beresford, a former Dean of Launceston, removed one of the best-known figures of the Church of England in Tasmania. He was 85 years of age, and was well-known in most parts of Tasmania. A native of Tasmania, Archdeacon Beresford was created a deacon in 1876, and ordained a priest in the following year. In 1878 he took charge of the parish of Bothwell, where he remained until 1893. There he raised money to build the parish church known as St. Michael and All Angels’, which cost over £5000. In addition to his work at Bothwell, Archdeacon Beresford did wonderful work in the Lake country, visiting the scattered shepherds’ huts by horseback. No other clergyman or missionary had ever attempted to reach these out of the way families, aggregating 400 to 500 people, but the young rector of Bothwell, full of enthusiasm, a fine horseman, and a born bushman, faced and conquered the difficulties which faced him. He travelled not fewer than 1000 miles every year in the Lake country alone, besides the ordinary work of his parish.
Then Archdeacon Beresford was sent to the parish of Forth and Leven, on the North-West Coast. Though different in character, it proved even a more onerous problem than Bothwell parish. Every educated man who could be persuaded to act as a lay reader was pressed into service, but the need of trained help and of ordained men was imperative. That led to the employment of two excellent colleagues, Rev. Wilfred Earle and Mr. James Roper, a young engineer who later was ordained. To make matters worse, a debt of £1000 stood over church property. This problem yielded slowly. The three men, obsessed by the one moving force kept to it, and in four year: they had built or removed and enlarged no fewer than 10 churches.
REBUILT ST. JOHN’S
Archdeacon Beresford’s work at St. John’s Launceston, occupied 10 years, and while there he was responsible for the building of St. John’s Mission house, and its fine hall in Canning street, and also the rebuilding of the parish church of St. John’s. He retired later to the Hagley Parish, from where he administered his archdeaconry and parish. He was Instrumental in building about 15 churches, and in raising about £25,000 for church buildings, and a like sum for endowments and diocesan purposes. A. funeral service will be held at St. David’s Cathedral, Hobart, at 9 a.m. tomorrow, and interment will take place at the Hagley cemetery at 4 p.m.
The Reverend D. Ross Hewton, F.R.G.S., rector, 1921-1933
In addition to the notes associated with the memorial to Revd. D. Ross Hewton on this website, the following article appeared in The Advocate newspaper (Burnie) on 17th Feb. 1933 on the occasion of the appointment of Revd. William Greenwood as rector of St. John’s and Revd. Hewton’s retirement.
THE RETIRING RECTOR
Rev. Ross Hewton, who will be 70 years of ago on March 22 next, will officially retire on that date. he was born in Victoria, and ordained at Trinity College, Melbourne, in 1890. He was made a priest in 1891 and appointed to the parish of Rosedale in Victoria. he was at Orbost from 1891 to 1892, and occupied the incumbency of Maffra (Gippsland) from 1892 to 1898. After being at Brighton (Melbourne) for some time, he was appointed to take charge of the parish of St. Luke’s, South Melbourne, and was there for 14 years, coming to Tasmania to accept the appointment to St. John’s, Launceston, in 1921. He has been rector of St. John’s for nearly 12 years, and the parish has made splendid progress during his rectorship. Mr. Ross Hewton has made three trips to England, the first being in 1903-4, the second in 1913-14, and the last in 1928. He was chaplain to the Military Forces from 1912 to 1926. He has been ably assisted in his work in various parishes by Mrs. Ross Hewton, who has been an active social and charitable worker in all parishes, but particularly while she has been living at Launceston. Mr. Hewton stated to-day that he was pleased that Mr. Greenwood had been appointed to the position which was being made vacant by his retirement, and thought he would do well in the big parish. he said that, though he was supposed to retire on March 22, he had acceded to requests to remain until after Easter. Upon his retirement, Mr. and Mrs. Hewton will continue to live in Launceston, having taken a house in High Street.
The Reverend Canon William Greenwood, rector, 1933–1949
The following article was published in The Advocate newspaper (Burnie) on 17th Feb. 1933 on the occasion of the appointment of Revd. William Greenwood as rector of St. John’s and Revd. Hewton’s retirement.
REV. GREENWOOD FOR LAUNCESTON. Appointed Rector of St. John’s Parish.
A POPULAR-CLERGYMAN. LAUNCESTON
Thursday: A meeting of the Board of Patronage of St. John’s Church, Launceston, was held today. when the Bishop of Tasmania (Dr. R. Snowdon Hay) presided. It was announced after the meeting that Rev. W. Greenwood, the present rector of the Burnie Parish, had been appointed to the cure, which will be made vacant by the retirement of Rev. D. Ross Hewton.
Rev. Greenwood was ordained in 1913 in Tasmania, having been born in England, and from 1913 to 1915, he was assistant curate in the Forth and Leven parish on the North-West Coast. In 1915 he was appointed rector to the parish of Lilydale, remaining there three years, and was then transferred to Bothwell, having charge of that parish from” 1916 to 1922. At the end of 1922, Mr. Greenwood was given his first appointment in a city parish; he was made rector of St. Aidan’s Church, Launceston, and remained there for six years. In 1928 he was transferred to St. John’s Church, New Town, and was there from 1928 to 1930. In 1931 he was transferred to Burnie, and has been there over two years.
Mr. Greenwood has made many friends in all the parishes he has been stationed in, and is a very popular clergyman. He is an active social worker, and, with the co-operation of Mrs. Greenwood, has been responsible for the formation of badminton and tennis clubs in several parishes. He is one of the pioneers of the badminton movement in Launceston.
The Reverend Terence Dicks Th.L, assistant curate, 1957-1959
At the time of writing, little information is available about the ministry of Terence Dicks at St. John’s.
He was born 09/06/1933, and died 01/08/2017, a resident in later life of Maroubra NSW.
The newspaper notice recording his death was published in the Sydney Morning Herald, and records that he was the beloved husband of Janice, father of John, Stephen, Michael and Jennifer, much loved grandad of their children and a recent and proud great grandfather.
Terence Dicks served for many years as rector of St Mary’s Anglican Church, Waverley NSW, despite a spinal injury which left him wheelchair bound for the latter part of his ministry. His funeral service was held at St Judes Anglican Church, Randwick NSW.
The website of St. Mary’s Anglican Church, Waverley, indicates that Revd. Dicks was rector there from 1967 to 2004.
Some insights into his ethos and work at Waverley can be read in the September 2004 issue of the Anglicans Together newsletter published in NSW.
Bishop Henry Jerrim, rector, 1961-1970
Henry Jerrim, later assistant bishop of Tasmania, was much loved and respected during his time at St. John’s. Older parishioners still have warm memories of his ministry.
Henry Jerrim – 30 Years a Bishop
– Tasmanian Anglican Dec. 2004
Henry Jerrim was consecrated a bishop in St David’s Cathedral on 21 December 1974. Exactly 30 years later a service was held in the cathedral, celebrating this occasion and recognising Bishop Henry’s long and faithful service.
Henry Jerrim was born, raised, educated and became a curate all in the same parish – Holy Trinity, Hobart. This must be some sort of record! After a short time as priest in charge of the Parish of Smithton, Henry spent two years as an army chaplain with the Second AIF. After the war Henry served at Cullenswood, Cygnet, Devonport, St Stephen’s Sandy Bay and then St. John’s Launceston where he became Archdeacon of Launceston.
On being appointed Archdeacon of Hobart in 1970, Henry also became rector of West Hobart. He expected to remain in these positions until his retirement. But the increasing workload on Bishop Robert Davies led to Henry’s being invited to become Robert’s assistant.
On St Thomas’ Day 1974, Henry was consecrated by the Primate, Archbishop Frank Woods assisted by Bishops Robert Davies, Geoffrey Cranswick and Gerald Muston. At the time of his consecration Henry received the pectoral cross and pastoral staff that once belonged to his friend and mentor, William Barrett, Tasmania’s first assistant bishop.
The years 1975 – 1978 were busy ones with Henry’s undertaking the combined duties of Bishop and Archdeacon. As Assistant Bishop, Henry moved around Tasmania frequently, sometimes participating in three confirmation services in one day. As Archdeacon of Hobart Henry visited the 33 southern parishes on a regular basis.
In 1978, while travelling overseas with his wife Prue, Henry attended a senior clergy conference and was invited to celebrate communion at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle and also at Coventry Cathedral.
After Bishop Davies’ retirement in June 1981 Henry became Bishop Administrator, responsible for the diocese while a new bishop was elected. The following January, Vernon Cornish, Assistant Bishop of Perth, moved with his wife Dell to Hobart where Vernon was to be enthroned as Bishop of Tasmania shortly afterwards. Tragically, a few days later, Vernon died suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack. So Henry continued as Bishop Administrator until August 1982 when Bishop Phillip Newell was consecrated.
Henry served as Assistant Bishop and Bishop Administrator for ten years. During much of that time he was also Archdeacon of Hobart and, for a time also acted as Diocesan Registrar and Dean of Hobart. During all this time he was supported by his much-loved wife, Prue.
In 1984 Henry was awarded an OBE for services to the church and to the community.
Bishop Henry retired in 1985. Since then he has kept actively involved in church life and, until recently, contributing much to the ongoing life of the cathedral. Some time after Prue died in 2002, Bishop Henry moved to the Manor at Vaucluse Gardens in South Hobart.
A service celebrating Bishop Henry’s 30 years as a bishop took place on Tuesday 21 December at St David’s Cathedral, followed by a light lunch in Church House.
Bishop Henry Jerrim: my eulogy
A Service of Thanksgiving to God for the life of Bishop Henry Allingham Jerrim, OBE, ED, ThL, 21/3/1916 – 22/5/2009 was held at St David’s Cathedral Hobart on June 18. Henry’s son, Peter, gave an outstanding eulogy to an outstanding ‘Hobart man’. Bishops Alf Chipman and Phillip Newell shared moving tributes to a humble and dedicated servant of Jesus Christ. I concluded the eulogies with the following words,
Bishop Henry Jerrim was gentle, wise and caring.
Henry would come and sit at the table in my office:
‘How’s it going, John?’
I’d share the good news.
‘And how’s it going, John?’ he would repeat, his face all smiles.
After I had opened up, he would respond,
‘Ah, Keep going. Keep going.’
During his final day I visited him with Father David O’Neill. Henry was unconscious, his children were gathered, we spoke and shared. Holding Henry’s hand, I prayed and we recounted some stories – hoping he could hear!
Leaving his room I asked a nurse for directions and she kindly offered to show me the way. I commented on Bishop Henry and immediately the nurse enthused,
‘Henry is so caring, pleasant and considerate. When I am trying to get relief staff, my trump card to get them to come in is to say that Henry is on their duty list! Bishop Henry is a special man.’
I will never forget an earlier day, around his 88th birthday, when he told me of his stumbling reading of the prayers and lack of capacity to properly lead worship at the Cathedral. With tears in his eyes he told me, ‘I can’t help you any more at the Cathedral. I’m sorry.’
But his inability to lead public worship did not stop his personal worship.
Whenever I visited Bishop Henry his Bible and Prayer Book were by his side.
When we celebrated Holy Communion in his room he did not need the Prayer Book as the words of worship were in his heart and mind.
Jesus Christ filled Bishop Henry’s heart and mind.
Jesus Christ was the vision that guided his life.
As we come now to sing the ancient Irish hymn, possibly from the 8th Century (tr. by Mary E. Byrne),
Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
We are reminded that Jesus Christ was the vision that inspired Bishop Henry Jerrim’s life.
May the vision of Jesus Christ inspire our lives, also.
Let us stand to sing, Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart.
See also Bishop Newell’s eulogy at http://www.tasmaniananglican.com.au/ta200908-11/
The Reverend H. Hugh Girvan, Th.L., Dip.C.C.A.C, rector, 1970-1974
At time of writing, we do not have a more extensive biographical summary of the life and ministry of Revd. Hugh Girvan. The following article appeared in St. John’s own magazine ahead of his appointment to St. John’s.
Our New Rector - St. John’s Parish Messenger, Feb. 1971
The Revd Hugh Girvan was ordained deacon in 1950 and priest in 1951 by the Bishop of Gippsland, the Right Revd. Donald Burns Blackwood. He holds the Licentiate of the Australian College of Theology; the Diploma of The Central College of the Anglican Communion (St Augustine’s Canterbury ) and in 1964 was appointed a Serving Brother of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem. Prior to ordination he was a teacher at Sydney Grammar School, and during World War II, served with the army.
After ordination he was successively Deacon in Charge St John’s Neerim South, Assistant Minister St Andrew’s Cathedral, Sydney, Precentor and Minor Canon of St Paul’s Cathedral Melbourne, Vicar of St. Faith’s Burwood, Rector of St. Margaret’s Mildura, and Archdeacon of Mildura; Canon-Residentiary of Christ Church Cathedral St Arnaud and Archdeacon of St Arnaud.
As well as serving on diocesan committees he has been an army chaplain, provincial representative of the Royal School of Church Music, chairman of the Victorian Anglican Scout and Guide Council: Hon. clerical treasurer of the Victorian Division of Inter-Church Aid: an Anglican Representative on the Victorian Council of Churches; member of the Archbishop’s Ecumenical Council and of the Church Missionary Society. From 1957-64 he appeared regularly on the ABC religious TV programmes.
Mrs Girvan has been Diocesan President (St Arnaud) of the Girls’ Friendly Society. The family consists of Craig, Richard, Helen and Alison.
The following additional information was obtained from internet research:
The Revd. Hugh Girvan was listed in the Victorian Government Gazette as a registered clergyman in 1954, located at Sale in the diocese of Gippsland. While serving at St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Sydney, he had the honour of carrying the archbishop’s crook as the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh left the cathedral. See http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/50582447
He was precentor of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Melbourne, from 1954 to 1957 and again from 1961 to 1964. He served at St. Margaret’s, Mildura, from 1964 to 1967 before moving on to St. Arnaud.
In the 8th May 2016 newsletter of St. Paul’s, Geelong, he is mentioned in “Prayers for the Faithful Departed” as having died on 17th May 2002. This suggests he may have retired to the Geelong area, although he is similarly mentioned in the newsletter of St. George’s, East Ivanhoe, 17th May, 2015.
The Venerable Ian E. A. Booth, Th.L, rector, 1974-1981
At time of writing, we do not have a more extensive biographical summary of the life and ministry of Archdeacon Booth. The following article appeared in St. John’s own magazine ahead of his appointment to St. John’s.
New Rector – St. John’s Parish Messenger, Jun. 1974
The Bishop has announced that the Reverend Ian Booth, Th.L, at present rector of St John’s, Devonport, has accepted nomination to the parish of St John Launceston.
His training for ordination took place at Moore Theological College, Sydney. Ian Booth has served as Curate of Wollongong and Curate in Charge of the Oaks, both in the Diocese of Sydney. With the Bush Church Aid Society, he served at Ceduna, Orroroo, and prior to his appointment to Devonport, a period as Victorian Secretary of B.C.A.
He and his wife Valerie have four sons, Graham, a student at the University of Tasmania, Phillip, at present preparing for his matriculation, and Kevin and Michael aged twelve and nine respectively.
Mr Booth will take up his work at St John’s late in September. Until the induction of the new rector, the ministry of the parish will be in the care of the Revd Harry Ikin and the Revd David Lewis.
The Reverend Ernest Horth, rector, 1981-1986
The Reverend Ernest E Horth, RFD BA Th L (Hons) was rector of St John’s from December 1981 to the end of 1986. As previous rector, Archdeacon Ian Booth had undertaken all the planning and preparation for a major restoration programme on the physical church building. Ernest undertook the task of leadership during the implementation of that programme, and whilst building on past spiritual foundations took new initiatives to energize that spiritual vitality even further.
Born in Hurstville, a southern Sydney suburb, on 25 August 1938. His father was a boilermaker/welder and his mother a Dental Nurse. At the age of fifteen Ernest entered the RAAF Technical Training School at Wagga Wagga in New South Wales. He was successful in becoming an Aircraft Engine Fitter. Close to his eighteenth birthday he experienced the presence of Christ in his life and the call to ordained ministry.
After three years at Ridley College he was ordained by the Bishop of Gippsland in St Paul’s Cathedral, Sale. On the 2nd February 1965 after ordination as a deacon he commenced his first curacy at the Cathedral Parish, was married to Ida at St James Old Cathedral, East Melbourne on 27 December 1965, and appointed as Curate in the Parish of Moe before ordination as priest on 20 February 1966.
Before his appointment to St John’s, he served another curacy in St Faith’s Narrabeen Parish, Diocese of Sydney, followed by six years as a Chaplain in the Regular Army. He was appointed Vicar of St Aidan’s Parish, Parkdale, Diocese of Melbourne in August 1974 and commissioned as Victorian Secretary of the Bush Church Aid Society in 1979. During his ministry in Launceston he was appointed rural dean and also served on Diocesan Council. He was senior Anglican army chaplain in Tasmania and for a brief time served as police chaplain in Launceston.
Following his ministry at St John’s, he served as CEO of the Bible Society Australia Inc.; Regional Officer in Queensland/Northern New South Wales for BCA; Vicar of St Barnabas’ Balwyn Parish, Diocese of Melbourne; Archdeacon of Kew and chaplain to the Archbishop of Melbourne. During that latter period, he was also acting Vicar of St Barnabas’ Parish, Glen Waverley and was appointed as a volunteer police chaplain.
On retirement in August 2007, Ernest assisted in the Parish of St Mary’s Sunbury. After the ‘Black Saturday’ bushfire in February 2009, Ernest and Ida joined the diocesan Bushfire Recovery Team and focused their ministry in the Kinglake area of Whittlesea Parish. In 2017 he is still a police chaplain, assists in the Parish of St Paul’s Boronia and is secretary of the Balwyn RSL Sub Branch.
Ernest and Ida have two daughters, Kathryn and Louise. Kathryn is married to Poul, lives nearby in Boronia, Victoria and has two children. Louise married Stuart, the son of a St John’s parishioner, they have a daughter and live in Hobart.
The Right Reverend Ross J. Nicholson, Dip.A., B.Com., M.A.(Theol.) rector, 2005- 2016
Born in 1957, Ross Nicholson completed secondary education in 1974 at Sydney Technical High School, Bexley before studying commerce at University of NSW, graduating in 1979. From 1978 to 1981, he worked for Fusion Australia, including a stint as a radio announcer for 2CBA-FM’s “Captain Midnight Show.”
His earlier involvements in ministry included a period as lay youth leader at St Jude’s, Dural, a ministry traineeship at St Paul’s, Seaforth, and a further period of ministry traineeship at St Philip’s, Caringbah. From 1982, he was studying at Moore Theological College in Sydney, graduating in 1986 and later completing his Master of Arts (Theology) in 1995.
Ross was made deacon in 1986 while serving as assistant minister at St Stephen’s Anglican Church, Penrith, and was ordained priest later that year. From 1988 to 1998, he was minister in residence at Rossmore Anglican Church, after which he served as rector of St. Stephen’s Anglican Church, Willoughby NSW, during which time he also served as area dean for the Willoughby Deanery from 2003.
In 2005, he accepted the position as rector of St. John’s Anglican Church, Launceston, a position he held until 2016. During that period, he served as Mission Support Officer for the Tamar region from 2005 to 2008, when he was consecrated as Assistant Bishop for the Diocese of Tasmania, designated Missioner Bishop Projects & Training.
After 11 years at St John’s, Ross was invited back to Sydney to be rector of St Alban’s, Epping NSW. Through his years in ministry, Ross has gained skills in re-visioning parishes for mission and the development of property to enhance ministry. It was for his experience in both these areas he was called to lead St Alban’s.
Ross is married to Jennifer (Jenny), a registered nurse specializing in palliative care who has also been involved in nurse education. Jenny has taken an active role in ministry in the various congregations she has been part of, and has a mentoring ministry with younger women as well as a vision for encouraging clergy spouses. They have three adult children, James, Sarah and Samuel, and in recent years, became grandparents.
Ross’ ministry interests preaching, teaching, leadership theory and practice, team building, discipleship and church growth. Aside from ministry he enjoys gardening, bonsai, bass guitar, cooking, politics, woodworking and reading.
A great many sermons from Bishop Ross can be heard or viewed on our sermon recordings archive.