History of St Paul’s Anglican Church
A church is people, not buildings. People who love and serve God have met on this site ever since 1901 and throughout 2001 we celebrated our centenary, culminating in a Centenary Service on November 25th. A lively two-volume history tells the story of the whole 100 years. The first, A City on a Hill, deals with the 90 years to 1991, and the second, Changing City, Changing Church tells of the ten years to 2001, amidst all the startling changes affecting Chatswood in that time.
St Paul’s was founded at the time of Federation, when all the states united to become the single nation Australia. The railway and better roads were linking the scattered homes and communities of Sydney’s North Shore and more people were settling along the ridge-top road known as Gordon Road, later the Pacific Highway, and on Fullers Road as it wound down towards the Lane Cove River. The bush was becoming a suburb and the local Church of England people wanted their own neighbourhood church, within walking distance of their homes.
The first step was to start a Sunday School; then within weeks a congregation began meeting in a community hall. Numbers grew quickly and the original brick church building was opened in 1903. The oldest building on our site, the timber hall near the car park was built in 1906.
Throughout its history the church has had strong ministers of the gospel and a strong community presence, bearing powerful witness to the relevance of the gospel of Christ to all ages and generations. Countless young people have committed their lives to Jesus through ministries at St Paul’s and have gone on to follow him all the days of their life. The church has never had huge numbers at any one time except perhaps after the Sydney Billy Graham Crusade in 1959, but great numbers have passed through St Paul’s and onwards into living and serving the Lord elsewhere. Two other surviving churches, St Barnabas’ East Roseville and Holy Trinity Mowbray were planted from St Paul’s.
The present handsome sandstone church building was opened in November 1955. In the late 70s the old church, which had become a hall, was demolished because its roof had become unsafe. In its place the present Fellowship Centre was opened in 1980.
In 1994 a Chinese congregation (Cantonese-speaking) was formed at St Paul’s, meeting for worship at 11.30 each Sunday morning. Their pastor for 12 years until January 2009 was the Rev Dr Wilfred Chee, who returned to the church where he was first converted from a Buddhist background. Then in March 2005 a second Mandarin service commenced, and now meets at 10 am each Sunday in the main Fellowship Centre hall. St Paul's is quite a community centre for Chinese people.
A total of seventeen rectors (that is, parish priests or senior ministers in charge) have served St Paul’s Chatswood during its history. The Rev Ray Robinson led the parish for twelve years till January 2005 when he moved to the parish of Katoomba. His replacement was the Rev Stuart Peter Robinson (we seem to prefer that surname!), who accepted the position in May 2005. With his wife Jane and four young adult children he moved into the Rectory later that year and his ministry officially began on November 1, 2005 ...
Three whirlwind years followed. There was an emphasis on evangelism and training, but without any neglect of pastoral care for all ages. Congregations grew numerically, not dramatically but definitely, as people came to know the Lord or came back to church after years of avoidance. Youth ministries flourished and the two Chinese congregations also grew.
The Rev Dr Wilfred Chee (70) with his wife Lily retired at the end of January 2009, after serving as locum for the whole parish for that month. In his place we have welcomed the Rev Peter Chung, with Lois, to pastor the Chinese congregations. With some of their members, they have come from the parish of Killara.
While at Chatswood, Stuart Robinson had served as the National Mission Facilitator for the Anglican Church of Australia. Mrs Faith Costin from St Stephen’s Willoughby served as his personal assistant and parish administrator and her skills and efficiency helped him manage not only a busy parish but also this major extra responsibility, which entailed much interstate travel and running courses and programs in 19 of Australia's 23 Anglican dioceses. He also chaired mission and school boards and published a manual on mission and establishing new churches.
This paved the way for Stuart Robinson's election on Sunday November 2, 2008, exactly three years after commencing at St Paul's, as Bishop of the diocese of Canberra and Goulburn. This was despite being a “mere” parish priest and despite some major differences between Sydney and other dioceses. On Saturday 31 January 2009, a large Chatswood contingent attended his consecration as Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn and installation took place at St Saviour’s Cathedral, Goulburn.
The Rev David Claydon served as locum for what turned out to be a shorter than expected interval before the Rev Stephen Jeffrey accepted the invitation of our parish representatives and the Archbishop to become rector.
Click here for a profile of the Jeffreys
...a community of men, women, boys and girls who have been redeemed by God the Father through the finished work of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, on the Cross. Through faith in him we have been forgiven, cleansed of guilt and adopted into the family of God’s much-loved people. He has set us free from our ungodly past so that we might now represent him to the dying world around us—loving and serving others as Christ has loved and served us.