Georges River support
Two key Georges River parishes will welcome senior ministers early this year, looking to turn over a new leaf in some of Sydney’s fastest-changing suburbs.
The Rev John Bartik, currently acting rector at Revesby, and the Rev Stephen Gardner – an assistant minister at West Pymble – are moving into the parishes, with Mr Bartik heading to nearby Bankstown and Mr Gardner taking up the post at Canterbury with Hurlstone Park.
“My wife Claire and I have had an interest in working in this area of Sydney for a while,” Mr Gardner says. “With the growth and change happening in the region, we wanted to help to see people won for Christ in the area – and we were also particularly wanting to serve in under-resourced locations as well. We’d been praying about it and early on this year going to Canterbury opened up. It’s really an exciting opportunity.”
Major demographic changes are taking place in these parish areas, and both are also smaller churches aiming to kick-start new growth.
Bankstown has been without a senior minister for some time, with the rector of St Martin’s, Georges Hall, the Rev Gary Bennetts, serving as acting senior minister.
Says Mr Bartik: “Part of what attracted me was that it’s a church that’s doing things. They have a strong ministry in their ESL classes, and I am the ESL co-ordinator for the region. They also have a full- time evangelist there, Grant de Villiers, who’s been doing good work. Given I’ll still have to work in my ESL role alongside this role, it’s good that those things are going on! There’s still plenty to do, of course, because the whole area is in transition, as is the church.”
As both parishes are unable to support a full-time minister on their own, Mr Gardner and Mr Bartik are receiving financial support from elsewhere. Mr Gardner is being supported as a missionary by West Pymble and other Sydney churches, while Mr Bartik will continue in his part-time role as Anglicare’s ESL co-ordinator for the Georges River region.
Says Mr Gardner: “We certainly have some ideas of what we’d like to do [in the parish], but we also feel that the first year will also be spent discerning where we should go collectively with the people already working hard at St Paul’s.
“We’d love to see the church reflect more the kinds of people that make up the surrounding area.”
Photo: Ready to go – with help: the Rev Stephen Gardner and the Rev John Bartik.