from Rev. Hamish Christie-Johnston
I have been asked if I would introduce myself.
I am the son of a Church of Scotland manse, born in 1936 in Glasgow and spending most of my first fourteen years in the Shetland Islands. In 1950 my parents brought their eight children to Tasmania where my father was called to the Presbyterian parish of Kirklands/Campbell Town.
I spent four years at Scotch College Launceston, two years as a medical student in Brisbane (where I discovered it was not my calling), three years Arts in Hobart (during which I was accepted as a candidate for the ministry) and three years theology in Ormond College before beginning ministry in Corryong at the end of 1962.
In January 1963 Hilary and I were married. She had grown up in a Methodist parsonage and in later years at MLC Launceston where her father was Principal. We met in my final year at Scotch College.
From Corryong we went with our infant son to Hobart where I had a complex task as part time Clerk (Secretary) for the Presbyterian Presbytery and Assembly of Tasmania, part time Secretary of the Tasmanian Council of Churches and Tasmanian Inter Church Aid (responsible for the Christmas Bowl etc.) and part time minister of a joint Congregational-Presbyterian Parish. It was a crazy few years!
Now with two sons we moved to East Kew in 1970, as minister to a very large congregation with a healthy Sunday School and youth group.
In 1976 the State Assembly of the Presbyterian Church appointed me as full time ‘Stated Clerk’ (Executive Secretary) for the period until union. I was already widely known for my ecumenical commitment and conviction, having represented the Church at the Christian Conference of Asia and spent time with my family travelling and studying in Scotland and Europe.
With the formation of the Uniting Church I was appointed Associate General Secretary of the Synod of Victoria and also continued my ecumenical involvement as national secretary for the Uniting Church’s Commission on Ecumenical Affairs, a position which Hilary was later to hold for over ten years. Prior to her work in that role Hilary had worked as a secondary teacher, a mother, a school librarian and finally as a consultant in multicultural education
When the World Council of Churches decided to hold a world conference on Mission and Evangelism in Melbourne in 1980 I was seconded to work on behalf of the Australian Council of Churches as Australian organiser of that Conference. That experience greatly enlarged the horizons for both Hilary and me.
It also led to my next appointment as Synod Field worker in Mission and Evangelism, with responsibilities for helping congregations throughout the State to understand and develop their role in spreading the Gospel beyond their own members. During my final year in that position I was also Moderator of the Synod of Victoria (before it was recognised as a full time job).
I expected to return to parish ministry but was called to the position of Presbytery Minister for Western Port Presbytery, living in Frankston.
After seven years in that position I was unexpectedly requested to accept the job of General Secretary of the Victorian Council of Churches, a role I fulfilled until complications after surgery for Prostate Cancer obliged me to retire just before turning 65 at the start of 2001.
Both Hilary and I have been very fortunate to have a number of opportunities to attend international ecumenical gatherings and have been greatly enriched in our experience of music and worship.
Hilary has developed a strong interest in the women disciples of Jesus and is currently working on a book which will include illustrations from the Churches of Western Europe as well as from the Orthodox families.
Both our sons are married and we have two healthy grandsons.