Vicar’s last day af­ter 23 years

Central Leader - - News - By Scott Morgan

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.

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

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.

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