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St Peter's, Eastern Hill

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About St Peter's

St Peter's Eastern Hill is a community of Anglican Christians who worship in the Anglo-Catholic tradition. St Peter's is a city church, placed on the eastern hill of the city of Melbourne, beside Parliament House and across the street from St Patrick's Cathedral. It is a place of prayerful quiet beauty that attracts visitors from all over the world, and parishioners from all over the metropolitan area.

Being a church in the Anglo-Catholic tradition means that worship of God is at the centre of our life together. The Solemn High Mass, in particular, connects St Peter's with the great traditions and rich heritage of many centuries through the use of vestments, ceremonial, and music. At its best, St Peter's is a place of soul-stirring liturgy, challenging preaching, fine music, concern for issues of justice and peace — and a place of warm care and welcome: a community gathered in the name of the Lord.

The historic parish church dates from the mid 1840s. Heritage Victoria and the National Trust place St Peter's at the highest level of significance; it stands as one of the handful of buildings in Melbourne pre-dating the gold rush of the 1850s. The interior houses many fine artworks, including both 19th and 20th century stained glass; 19th century copies of Italian old master paintings; woodcarvings by Ola Cohn, Leopoldine Mimovic and Franciska Schubert; a lectern by the German woodcarver Robert Prenzell; and bronzes by the Hungarian Andor Meszaros. Particular features are the Napier Waller window in the north transept commemorating the New Guinea martyrs, the iconostasis at the head of the nave, and the imposing High Altar with its surrounding mosaic work.

The church is open every day from 7 am until 6 pm. There are Sunday masses at 8.00 am, 9.30 am, and 6.30 pm. High Mass is at 11.00 am, and Solemn Evensong is at 5.00 pm. Weekday services include an early morning mass at 7.15 each weekday.

St Peter's serves the surrounding community, with members of our ministry team serving as Chaplains in nearby major hospitals, universities and the Victorian parliament. As well as providing breakfast from 7.30 am every day to the homeless, the Lazarus Centre provides food parcels and emergency referrals to people in need. This service is staffed by volunteers and professionals from St Peter's, Anglicare, and the wider Melbourne community.

But life at St Peter's is also about fun and fellowship. Concerts, parties, dinners and other gatherings are all an important part of our regular life here. St Peter's is a place where people can gather in a relaxed and good-hearted environment – hospitality and good fun are important to us. Yet growth in faith, spiritual formation, worship and service are always the key to our community.

You are welcome to join us.

Vision Statement 2008–2010

St Peter's Eastern Hill is a lively and inclusive community of Catholic Anglicans in the City of Melbourne.

Worship of God is at the centre of our life together. We communicate the love of God in Jesus Christ through the beauty of holiness and an active engagement with Scripture.

Our tradition calls us to—

  • Encounter God in the sacraments;
  • Bring our reason and intellect to a living faith;
  • Build a loving community;
  • Serve other through social action.

As Christians we are called to love God and our neighbour. In the next three years we commit to—

  • Serving the wider Church as a place of ministry training and Christian formation;
  • Ministering to people across all age groups;
  • Embracing the gifts of all within our parish community;
  • Involving ourselves more fully in the life of our City;
  • Speaking out on significant issues, including social justice and the environment;
  • Honouring our historic responsibility to witness to an inclusive catholic faith in the diocese and the wider church.

Adopted by vestry, 26 September 2007.

The New Parish Governance Act

The new Parish Governance Act came into effect on 1st July, 2014. A plain English guide to the main provisions of the act is available. Click to download...

A Brief History of St Peter's

St Peter's is the oldest Anglican church standing on its original site in the inner city area. The foundation stone was laid by C J La Trobe on 18 June 1846, and the building was being used for services in 1847, even though the first part was not completed until 1848. During the gold rush years, four hundred baptisms and the same number of weddings took place each year, and the building was extended in 1854 to bring its seating capacity up to 1050: much of this space was in galleries that were removed in 1896. The last extensions to the building took place in 1876. The first vicarage (1849) and schoolbuilding stood on land subsequently purchased by the State Parliament in 1884, following which the present vicarage and a new school building (now Keble House) were built.

Under Henry Handfield, the longest-standing of the 19th century vicars (vicar 1854-1900), it developed a reputation for good choral music and increasing involvement in social outreach in the inner city especially when the Sisters of the Holy Name commenced working within the parish boundaries in the 1880s. Its profile was one of a very restrained high church, established mainly through teaching in sermons. Here Nellie Melba had organ lessons as a schoolgirl, and Henry Handel Richardson worshipped, fictionalising this part of her life in an episode in The Getting of Wisdom.

Festal High Mass at St Peter's In 1900 Ernest Selwyn Hughes (vicar 1900-26) stamped the parish with an explicit Anglo-Catholic identity, introducing a high mass as the main Sunday liturgy, along with vestments and incense. His mild Christian Socialism was developed by his successor, Farnham Edward Maynard (1926-64) who emphasised a sometimes radical message through publications and radio broadcasts. At his instigation, the Brotherhood of St Laurence, then a small religious community, came to work in the Fitzroy part of the parish in 1933, and has developed in different ways as a contributor to Melbourne's social conscience. As the introductory paragraphs indicate, the Catholic and inclusive attitude of Hughes and Maynard has continued in different ways to the present.



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