Vicar’s last day after 23 years
It’s the end of an era at Blockhouse Bay’s Church of the Saviour.
After 23 years at the church, including 17 as vicar, George Stonehouse has decided to call it a day.
The 67-year-old was sad to lead his final service on Sunday in the church he served since 1991.
“It’s been a real privilege,” he says.
Mr Stonehouse says one of his proudest moments in the job was seeing a new church built in 2000.
“We didn’t have to do much in the way of fundraising. People just prayed.”
And he says moving out of the church during rebuilding had a positive long-term affect on their relationship with other parishes in the area.
That included combining with parishioners from the Blockhouse Bay Community Church for their morning and evening services.
“It was one of the great joys of being here to see that happen,” he says.
“I want to see people grow in their relationship with God.”
He’s confident new vicar Sarah Hobbs, who is coming from England to lead the 400-strong parish, will be in safe hands because church members work as a team.
“We’ve got a very fluid structure. Nobody is above anyone else.”
Under Anglican church rules, the Lynfield resident won’t be able to attend Church of the Saviour for two years, to make things easier for his replacement.
“I worshipped here before I was vicar, so it’ll leave a huge gap in our lives,” he says.
“It’ll be hard because our grandkids, daughter and friends are here.”
Instead, he hopes to start attending St Margaret’s church in Hillsborough.
The former teacher’s college lecturer plans to do some overseas travel, and may help out at another church.
Mr Stonehouse’s personal assistant Win McMinn says he has made a real difference in the community, from offering spiritual guidance to helping out in churchrun programmes.
“He’s got a common sense approach to things. He’s not up in the spiritual clouds somewhere, but very down to earth.”
The parish will be without a vicar for three weeks, before Sarah Hobbs joins Church of the Saviour in early September.
Life of devotion: Vicar George Stonehouse led his final service at Church of the Saviour in Blockhouse Bay on Sunday after 17 years in charge.