It is with regret that I announce that the Archbishop has accepted the resignation of Bishop Stephen Hale as the Lead Minister of our Parish.
In the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne, Incumbents are appointed for a ten-year period and Stephen has decided to take on a different challenge for this next term of his ministry.
Stephen came to St Hilary’s in July 2009, following the departure of the Rev Paul Perini and has made a wonderful contribution to our Parish over the last 10 years.
At that time, we had recently commenced our partnership with St Silas and Stephen embraced our new Network model and oversaw the planting of the 10 AM Congregation under the leadership of Rev Peter Carolane.
This grew into a vibrant community and regenerated that site. The Nth Balwyn site continued to flourish under his subsequent appointment of the Rev Tracy Lauersen as Associate Vicar, and we were able to send out and support many of those parishioners to plant the Merri Creek community in 2013
In 2014 Stephen also oversaw the integration of the Parish of St Augustine’s into our Network. Recently this site has become the home of our Living Stone Ministry as well as the foundational congregation.
Under Stephen’s guidance, our Network became a place where differing expressions of worship and community each had a place, united under our common vision to Make, Mature and Mobilise Disciples of Christ. He took opportunities as they arose to experiment and utilised the gifts of his Teams to try new styles.
His championing of the change to a Discipleship model of Connect Group led personal ministry is perhaps his most important mark on our Church and the fruits of this work will be seen in the years to come as the staff and Parishioners embrace this philosophy.
Stephen continued St Hilary’s work with the wider Church and his Leadership of our Missions committee and enthusiastic support for what is a foundational value of our Parish has seen our external giving to Missions grow substantially over the ten years and many new People reached for Christ in Australia and around the World.
Stephen launched the St Hilary’s Hope ministry, and this has been embraced by an ever-widening network of churches. It’s effectiveness as a local mission outreach is growing exponentially year on year and it is an important part of our connection to the wider community through the Food Drive, Kids Hope and Coach programs; and it has also continued the ongoing work of Prague House and Crossroads.
Stephen has also provided significant Leadership to the wider Diocese and beyond with his establishment of and continued advocacy of the Peter Corney Training Centre and his teaching and guidance on the difficult pastoral issues of our time, such as Same Sex Marriage, Domestic Violence and Child Safe systems and guidelines. He has done this often with quiet support of individuals or vocal encouragement in the Diocese. In addition, he has mentored many staff over this time who have gone on to lead their own parishes elsewhere in the Diocese. These gifts of advocacy, wisdom and discernment to the wider Church are part of his Legacy along with his strong support across the Diocese for the role of women in ministry,
Stephen has made a remarkable contribution to our church and we are thankful to God for his strong and faithful preaching, pastoral care and leadership of new opportunities. He has challenged us to move forward from the past whilst recognising our heritage of evangelical ministry.
Stephen will finish with us at the end of January next year, although his last Sunday with us will be October 27th, after which he and Karen will take a well-earned break.
There will be more announcements in the coming months about Stephen’s departure and opportunities to farewell Stephen and Karen and thank them personally.
We will miss them and their passionate advocacy for Christ in our community. At the same time, we are excited to see what God has in store for them next and look forward to Praying for their future ministry
I ask that you support and pray for them, the staff and the board during this time of transition.
Chair of the Board