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The Presbytery of the Hunter NSW
The East Maitland congregations of St Stephen’s and St David’s are losing their Pastor. Sadly, he will be retiring at the end of January 2019 after ten years of generous service. Perhaps you feel drawn closer to Sydney, the East Coast, or Newcastle? Perhaps you would like to move away from the urbanisation of a capital city to serve a different community?
If so, please consider the following:
Located in the East Coast hinterland, St Stephen’s is situated within half an hour’s travel of Newcastle, Newcastle Airport, Newcastle University, the John Hunter Hospital, Tocal Agricultural College, Williamtown RAAF base, beaches, and vineyards. We are located on the bank of the Hunter River overlooking a fertile farming district. Good roads travel from here to the Central West and North Coast of NSW, and the M1 freeway leads directly to Sydney (approximately two hours’ drive). The main northern and northwest railways provide direct access to Newcastle CBD, Sydney, north coast and Brisbane.
Maitland is an area with much history. Founded in 1820, it was once the second largest city in the state, a large river port, and was proposed as the capital of NSW. Coal was discovered in 1801, and the South Maitland coal seam became the most extensive coalfield in NSW, employing tens of thousands of people in over thirty collieries. John Dunmore Lang brought many Scottish immigrants to the district to work on his nearby estate at Largs, and in 1832 he consecrated Scots Kirk, which was the first church, in Maitland, of any denomination. Recurrent, devastating floods, including the 1955 Maitland flood which inspired the establishment of the NSW State Emergency Service, led to extensive flood mitigation works that have protected all flat land and waterways from development. This has preserved discreet villages, farming, open fields, vegetation, bird life and pleasant views close to suburban development. Legacies include not only the landscape and heritage buildings, but also many descendants of the pioneers residing in our local community.
Today, Maitland is the fastest growing city outside Sydney. New suburbs have been opened and more are planned. New families and young couples are moving into our suburb, but so are baby boomers who are downsizing from Sydney or Newcastle, and landholders who are retiring from rural holdings to the suburbs or acreage. Also, because house prices are very attractive to investors, an increasing number of residents are now tenants.
East Maitland has been very well served. Just as our congregation moved their church up the hill following inundation from floodwaters, over time, services infrastructure and residences have moved out of Maitland and onto the surrounding hills. East Maitland straddles the New England Highway, and contains high schools, Christian Schools, primary schools, special schools, community halls, Fire Services, railway stations, a Stockland shopping mall, small shopping villages, tourist attractions, hotels, restaurants, accommodation, garages, clubs, council facilities, state government services, charitable organisations, a large private hospital and a Court House. Work has commenced to relocate Maitland Hospital to East Maitland. Residences include heritage, acreage, cottages, new estates, community housing and villages of independent retirees.
Other churches in East Maitland include seven protestant and a Roman Catholic. More churches are found nearby. The nearest Presbyterian parish is Maitland (only 3kms away). Our parish is made up of two churches, St Stephen’s at East Maitland and St David’s at Beresfield (9kms SE), each holding a morning service every Sunday. Services are traditional in style, combined with a casual, friendly atmosphere at morning tea afterwards. East Maitland is a multigenerational church – a loving family of believers aged 6 to 90 worshipping, working and enjoying fellowship together. Parish family BBQ lunches are held throughout the year. Both churches own a school hall.
The Little Fish Playgroup is a thriving ministry for local mothers. It meets twice weekly during school term. Our PWA is active, and the fourth largest in NSW. Each year it conducts regular events (this year nine) for fundraising, and to give church members and neighbours opportunities to share with friends. It conducts an OP Shop with the Maitland parish. Half our Elders are women. We also have a Saturday Prayer breakfast and Tuesday Bible Study which meet weekly.
St David’s is a smaller congregation situated in Beresfield, formerly a farming district, beside the Hunter River, which became a suburban area during the 1960s to 1980s. Adjacent to the intersection of the Pacific and New England Highways, its railway station is on the main line to Newcastle’s University and CBD. Large commercial and light industrial estates border the residential area of free-standing homes and a caravan village. Three schools, a high school, a shopping village, sporting fields, five other churches and the region’s crematorium are located here.
Both congregations share a strong core of commitment to Christian faith. Also, they love their church, and have a long history in their community. Beresfield and East Maitland are areas of changing social demographic, and many opportunities for seeking new congregational members from communities and work places have been identified. Clearly the gospel opportunities are evident in the growing suburban populations around East Maitland and we would like loving leadership to help us reach out in Jesus’ name.
Wider Christian unity matters to us. We share our annual Hymnfest with the Salvation Army (and their band), and attend the World Day of Prayer which is hosted by a different local church every year. We would like to foster further relationships with local Christians. St Stephen’s has a choir, and a very rare pipe organ, installed by Charles Richardson in 1897, which occupies a central sound chamber and is a much beloved feature of the church. We are also blessed with an organist. We invite the local Pipe and Drum Band to our St Andrew’s Day service. A school of the Newcastle Conservatorium is located nearby in Maitland. As a point of difference, St Stephen’s would like to rebuild its reputation for having beautiful music accompany its worship.
East Maitland Pastoral Charge is seeking a Pastor who will teach God’s word in an engaging way; who will love and nurture those already serving in the life of the church and lead us in reaching out in Jesus’ name. Do you think you might be the one?
Want to find out more?
Contact our Interim Moderator Rev. John Macintyre