The church in Ascot Vale has a long history, what follows is a brief sketch of key points and highlights.
The first Christians to worship in Ascot Vale met in a Salvation Army Hall, and Anglicans participated in worship there until St Paul’s Anglican church was built in 1889 on Roxburgh Street. The building was constructed from wood, and the first minister was the Rev’d William McKie. Reverend McKie is noteworthy for his two sons, born after his minister concluded in Ascot Vale. One son, Bishop John McKie, was an Anglican clergyman and eventually served as Bishop of Geelong from 1946 until 1960. Another of Reverend McKie’s sons, Sir William Neil McKie, was a talented organist, who served as Organist and Choir Master at Westminster Abbey, and was Director of Music for Princess Elizabeth’s wedding, and coronation as Queen Elizabeth II.
A second church named All Saints Anglican Church was built in 1915 in the west of Ascot Vale, in an area known as Whiskey Hill. Both St Paul’s and All Saints shared a minister, and at times the minister was assisted by theological students from Ridley College. In 1916 the wooden church of St Paul’s was replaced with a brick church designed by prominent church architect Louis Williams. A fire in 1959 destroyed part of St Paul’s, and many of the St Paul’s records were lost. The two church established an Op Shop in 1966 on Union Road, this Op Shop continues to thrive to this day. The two churches officially combined as one parish with two centres in 1971 under the leadership of the Rev’d Dr George Mullins.
The parish is particularly proud that in 1987 Barbara Darling began ministry as a curate at Ascot Vale, one of the first ordained women in the diocese of Melbourne. In 1989 she became minister-in-charge, and ministered in Ascot Vale until 1995. On the 31st of May, 2008 she was consecrated as a bishop, becoming the first woman to be consecrated bishop in the Diocese of Melbourne only nine days after Kay Goldsworthy was the first woman to be consecrated in Australia.
In 2006 the parish was directed to combine with the Parish of St Thomas Moonee Ponds. Under the leadership of Rev Alan Colyer, St Paul’s church, Memorial Hall and Vicarage were sold, with the proceeds funding the purchase of a new vicarage and a renovation of All Saints church and hall. St Paul’s church may have been closed, but the ministry of that church lives on in the ministry of its sister church All Saints. The combined church of Moonee Ponds and Ascot Vale continued in this partnership until 2010, when the Diocese made the decision to de-amalgamate St Thomas & All Saints, with each continuing to serve God through ministry independently of each other. In December 2017 Andrew Esnouf became the latest minister to serve at Ascot Vale.
Our history is not finished, and we believe that with God’s guidance we have a bright future. We invite you to join us and become part of our story.