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The pastor

St. John’s has come to the end of an era.  On Sunday 9th January, Pastor Peter Demuth conducted his final worship service as Pastor at St. John’s.  Parishioners said their final good-byes to Pastor Peter and his family, whom we have come to love during the six years since 2015 when they first arrived in Australia. We are greatly indebted to his commitment and service to St. John’s and for all the ministry programs he instigated and inspired.

We move forward into a new era.  But first comes a period of waiting. We must remain prayerful and patient as we eagerly anticipate the approval of the visa application for Pastor Johannes Hepp and his wife Jutta.  This process may take a few months – it’s currently out of our hands.

Elders

The management committee of our parish comprises eleven parish members and the parish pastor. Of the eleven elders on the committee, half are re-elected by the parish every year, so each serves a term of two years. The committee members are aged in their mid-30s to late-60s.

They come from occupations in the financial, scientific and medical education sectors, for example, managers in renowned companies, employees in the IT sector, right through to solicitors, childcare workers, therapists, accountants and, last but not least, active retirees. This enables the congregational life to be viewed and shaped from the perspective of different Australian life situations.

In their monthly church committee meetings, they consider the current needs of the parish and also discuss and make future-oriented decisions.

KAREN CHRISTOPH

My Name is Karen Christoph I spent my childhood in Elwood and started to attend church with my grandmother after being baptised at Trinity in the city. My Brother and I attended German classes, and we were both confirmed in the city church and joined the youth group for many years. I became a member after getting married to Eric Christoph and living overseas for a few years before returning home to Melbourne. I decided to come to St Johns because there was a younger group of people, and we enjoyed our weekends helping out at Crossover (Church Camp). We wanted our children to grow up with Christian values and being part of a church and German traditions. I am very thankful that St. John’s is able to embark on the building project to improve our facilities and help our groups with updated facilities. I enjoy helping out when we have our special services and then join for a meal afterwards. One of my favourite things about St John’s is our Christmas Bazaar and the wonderful things that our members and friends make. On the day it is great to see old friends and families enjoying our homemade cakes, crafts, and potato salad with bratwurst etc.

FRANK VAN DER HEYDEN

I have spent my whole childhood in Springvale which was very multicultural back then. What I enjoy doing most is gardening and helping people. My earliest memory of going to church is around age 10 when I also joined the accordion group. What has impressed me the most about St.John’s have been the Pastors and the community spirit. I decided to become a member of St.John’s I have had a long connection and a feeling of belonging. My aspirations as an Elder is to make a difference, which is part of our motto and give something back to the church community and further our Christian beliefs. Probably my favourite group activity at St. Johns has been playing modern worship songs in the band with my son and daughter.

GISELA RANKIN

How long have I been a member of St. Johns?

My parents, who met and then married at the Trinity Church Dreifaltigkeitskirche, were founding members of the Springvale church that stemmed from this traditional Lutheran church in East Melbourne. Consequently, I have also been part of St. John’s at Springvale from the outset. In 2020, we celebrate our 60-year anniversary of being located at our current site on the corner of Albert and Osborne Avenues. By now you have probably worked out that I am a post-war baby-boomer, but that does not signify that I’m ready to be enlisted by the Seniors Group just yet!

What is my background?

I am the product of emigrant German parents, and I am equally proud of my German heritage as I am to be able to call myself an Australian. Added to this mix, my husband is from Scotland. Kenneth and I have been married for over 35 years and have been blessed with two wonderful sons, Alastair, and Christopher.  I grew up with my brother, Walter, and parents in a modest family home in Mount Waverley and never moved far from this location; currently residing in Glen Waverley. After completing my tertiary studies, I worked for several years as a German teacher before returning to studies in the field of Accounting and Economics. Kenneth too, is an eternal student and has a passion for studying and reading.  

What do I most like doing?

Although Kenneth and I got to know each other whilst trekking through the south-east wilderness of Tasmania, I prefer a different type of travel experience now that I am in my senior years. But I still like the outdoors and try to keep fit by walking the 1,000 steps most weekends. Those who know me best will probably refer to the disproportionate amount of time I spend in the kitchen, but if the truth be known my greatest pleasure is derived from sharing the fruits of my culinary exploits with others – cooking and baking for me is no chore! I also enjoy going out with friends and am an annual subscriber to Melbourne Theatre Company productions.  In recent years I have taken the opportunity to go abroad with Walter, who would otherwise be travelling solo. As both our boys now live and work in Europe, we are officially empty nesters.

What is my role at St. John’s?

Over the years I have served terms of varying duration as a church Elder under the leadership of four of our five Pastors: Dr. Ulf Metzner, Jürgen Schulz-Wackerbarth, Wilhelm Stern and now with Peter Demuth.  In the earlier years, my focus was with children and the German Saturday School and later as auditor. However, in recent years I have turned my efforts to recruitment and revival.  My current role is as Assistant Treasurer and supporting the implementation of St. John’s Strategic Plan. I am excited about the prospect of extending our church facilities and look forward to being able to welcome visitors in a new meeting space of our foyer and to experience our improved kitchen facilities.

What impresses me about St. John’s?

As a result of its migrant legacy, the congregation at St. John’s is a unique mix of traditional German and modern Australian cultures. The fabric of our community is woven together from the best qualities of both worlds: the conservative work-ethics of sacrifice and commitment combined with the larrikin-like disregard for ceremonious protocol and predisposition to independent thinking. Despite the occasional friction such a co-existence inevitably generates, I can comfortably relate to this eclectic diaspora of traits; it sets us apart from other congregations positively. We have been an independent free church for almost a decade and are transitioning forward optimistically.

What keeps me at St. John’s?

The community of St. John’s is my other family, and its church is my refuge. Together in Christ I commit to upholding our Mission to Love God, Love one another, and make a difference. I am grateful for the many blessings bestowed upon me by our merciful Father and pray that I may become a faithful servant of our Lord, Jesus Christ. I desire to being able to rely on worshipping joyously, freely, and passionately within a Christ-centred family.

CHRISSY KELLY

Over 33 years ago as I was travelling the world, by a very happy set of circumstances I arrived and fell in love with Australia. Nothing has changed about that love in all years since. I have done lots and lots of jobs in my working life, but I am now working in aged care. This is work that I really love. I spend my days (and nights!) supporting and helping some of the most vulnerable people in our society – who are so much more than their age and frailty, you see in a quick look; it is really a privilege to be there for them.

I came to St John’s through very close friends of mine who introduced me to the bazaar, promising German cake, and bratwurst! It is true, “Mit Speck fängt man Mäuse”- and I was hooked!! As often happens in St John’s you quickly become part of the family where you share the joy and the work of the congregation. I became more involved in the bazaar as well as the Garage Sale as time went on.

I decided to become an Elder because St John’s has become an important part of my life. I have a natural impulse to help and support where I can.

I hope that the congregation will find me responsive, responsible, and approachable.

Anke – The Church admin officer

Anke