Today marks a milestone for St Barnabas', Broadway as well as the Sydney Anglican diocese. After an 18-month search, the Rev Mike Paget, executive pastor at Barneys, will be inducted as rector, at a service to be held this evening.
In another move not often seen in Anglican churches, Mr Paget, who is currently a deacon, will be ordained as a presbyter (priest) during the induction service.
Mr Paget's connection with the church goes back to 2003, when he began working at Barneys as a student minister. He joined the staff in 2007 as an assistant minister.
While aware of the challenges and pitfalls that lie ahead as his role (and relationships in the church) change, Mr Paget expressed his great affection for the parish and the people he has served for the past four years, and was confident in the greatness of God - and God's ability to build his kingdom.
"Barneys has been led, in both its senior ministers and godly elders, by some extraordinarily wise, capable and faithful servants of the Lord," he said. "I shall have to trust in Jesus to fill these very great shoes" they are certainly too large for me!"
One of the churchwardens, David Britton, said that in the time Barneys had been without a rector Mr Paget had "given the place its energy… he's worked phenomenally hard doing his job while still chaplain at UTS, leading the evening student service, leading the staff team and then being the person who everyone else looked to."
Mr Britton said it was "a pretty bold move" to appoint a 33-year-old to a church that was "so strategically important" in Sydney but said parishioners had been convinced by seeing the way Mr Paget had conducted himself over the past 18 months: "his courage and faithfulness, good humour and perseverance and endurance - he's a very, very impressive guy.
"He knows how hard it's going to be" but he's taken it on and we'll do our very best to look after him. We'd like to think that we're entrusting at least the next decade of ministry at Barneys in Mike's hands."
Bishop Rob Forsyth, who has been acting rector of the parish during its vacancy, said he was "delighted" by the decision to appoint Mr Paget.
"I have been particularly impressed at the leadership he has provided at Barneys over this last year in difficult times which shows deep potential for his growth and development in the decades ahead," he wrote in a letter to church members. "I know each of you will join me in doing all that we can to make sure that this appointment will lead to a long, growing future for this great church."
Barney’s answers graffiti critic
In other Barneys news, it seems that the once famous signboard located outside the church site on Broadway, is again sparking dialogue within the community.
Jeremy Halcrow recently blogged on the church sign, asking how Barneys should respond to a graffiti message put on the sign.
Both the church and the graffiti artist have responded (see picture), proving that the traditions of the inner city church are going strong.