Sydney Oldest Church turns 200!
St James’ is the oldest church building in the city of Sydney and celebrates its bicentenary from Monday 7 October 2019 to 11 February 2024, the 200th anniversary of the church’s consecration. There are many activities scheduled over the five years to mark and celebrate this significant event in the life of the Church and the then Colony of New South Wales.
Commissioned by Governor Lachlan Macquarie in 1819, it was designed by the convict architect Francis Greenway and was built by convict labour. It was consecrated in 1824 by The Rev’d Samuel Marsden and served as the first cathedral in Australia. The church today stands as a gem of colonial Georgian architecture and is on the Register of the National Estate.
The Church is more than just a magnificent building. It is the home of a thriving Christian community. As a place of worship in the Anglican tradition, St James’ is a centre of pastoral care, and provides innovative community service programmes, including support for the homeless–symbolised in 2018 by the installation of the Homeless Jesus sculpture in the north forecourt to draw attention to their plight–many of whom seek shelter within the church’s grounds.
St James’ is built on Gadigal land of the Eora Nation, and the church places a high priority on reconciliation with indigenous peoples. In fact, reconciliation in general is a constant theme in the parish, in line with its values of welcoming all people regardless of age, race, sexual orientation, or religion.
St James’ is a place of education. It has established a number of centres that have grown into larger institutions: the St James’ Parish School, founded in 1823, has become The Shore School, now in North Sydney; St James’ College, Glebe, is now St Paul’s College in The University of Sydney; The St James’ Ethics Centre has become The Ethics Centre. The current centre for education, The St James’ Institute, operates programmes that provide a range of events and resources on the Christian faith and contemporary issues from a theological perspective.