On 17 August 1854 a public meeting was held and resolved ‘that a place of worship in connection with the established Church of England is urgently required.
The Parish Church
The Chapel of CCGS is the Parish Church of Christ Church South Yarra – a welcoming gathering space for many events and activities in the life of the School community. The foundation stone of the church building was laid in 1856. Built of local bluestone, and modelled on Salisbury Cathedral in England, it has been described as one of the most significant examples of neo-gothic structures in Australia. For over 160 years the Parish has been serving the local community and the wider Church. Christ Church Grammar School was conceived as an outreach of the Parish as early as 1872, although the School did not commence operation until 1898.
The Vicar of the Parish is ex officio the President of the School, and sits on the Board. The School Chaplain works closely with the Vicar, and other members of the Parish’s Ministry Team, in leading School Chapel services, teaching Religious Education and providing care and support to the staff, families, and alumni of CCGS. Today the Parish of Christ Church is a vibrant, diverse, and inclusive community, with strong ecumenical and inter-faith links. Its musical tradition reflects the School’s origins as a ‘choir school’, and it has one of the finest (adult) parish choirs in Melbourne. The CCGS Chapel Choir enjoys the opportunity to sing alongside the Parish Choir at combined Sunday services once each term.
Morning and evening Sunday worship complements a raft of mid-week services including School Chapel, and many baptisms, weddings and funerals are held at Christ Church throughout the year, along with celebrations of all of the major festivals in the Christian calendar. Education is at the heart of the Parish’s mission – for children and adults alike – and CCGS students have an opportunity to prepare for rites of passage such as Admission to Holy Communion (‘First Communion’) and Confirmation each year.
Over 700 people on average attend advertised services at Christ Church each week, and many more visit to attend regular concerts and workshops, or simply to take time out to rest, reflect, or pray. The Parish seeks to preserve the best of Anglican worship, and to foster a progressive approach to religious literacy, theology, and spirituality. We are conscious that our gathering place is on the traditional lands of the Kulin Nation and respectfully acknowledge current and past elders of the Wurundjeri and Boonerwrung peoples. Every Sunday either Sunday School or Kids’ Church is offered in connection with morning services, and many families from the School and wider community connect with these times of story-telling, wondering, singing, and creative activity.
The Parish raises funds and awareness for agencies such as The Anglican Board of Mission, The Brotherhood of St Laurence (whose founder, Gerard Tucker, was born in the Old Vicarage), and community based organisations including Friends of Refugees. Christ Church – School and Parish – also engages in Emergency Food Relief with its neighbours at St Martin’s Hawksburn. Christ Church South Yarra’s Mission, Vision and Values Statement (revised in 2015) can be viewed at www.ccsy.org.au/mission and is focused on the themes of hospitality, education, and outreach. The latest edition of the Parish Journal, Contact, can be viewed or downloaded at www.ccsy.org.au/publications and hard copies are usually available at the back of the church or in the School Office.
CCGS has been an integral part of the life and work of Christ Church South Yarra for almost all of the Parish’s history; something of which the Parish is very proud, and a relationship it greatly values. These two parts of the Christ Church community enrich and strengthen each other, sharing a site, facilities, resources, and a culture in which those of all faiths and of no particular faith can grow and flourish in body, mind, and spirit.
The church is built of the local bluestone, quarried for most of the principal public buildings in Melbourne at that period. Built in early English style architecture, it is 150 feet (46 metres) in length, the width across the nave and aisles is 64 feet (19 metres), the widths at the crossing and transepts is 90 feet (27 metres). The spire to the top of the cross is 176 feet (54 metres); it is modelled on Salisbury Cathedral, and is regarded as "one of the most chaste and imposing" neo-gothic structures in Australia.