St. John’s has been a prominent presence in the Toorak community since the church was completed and opened for worship in 1862. To the present day the parish continues its strong involvement in the life of the community it serves in a variety of ways.
The Toorak Village
Located just a short walk along Toorak Rd from the cafes, restaurants, and fashion and clothing shops of the Toorak village shopping precinct , St. John’s is a partner in events taking place throughout the year, such as the annual sculpture exhibition, in conjunction with the Toorak Traders Association.
The Toorak Ecumenical Council
St. John’s is an inaugural member of the Toorak Ecumenical Council, one of the oldest and strongest such councils in Melbourne. The member churches of the Council – St. John’s, the Toorak Uniting Church, St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, and the Swedish Church – meet regularly and every year join together in an Easter march of witness that moves between each church. The Council also operates an Opportunity Shop (see below) raising funds for various missions and charities supported by the four churches. Each Christmas members of the partner churches collect a large amount of food for distribution to the needy through the ‘Food for Friends’ program.
The Opportunity Shop is a joint venture between the four churches of the Toorak Ecumenical Council and is located at 143 Canterbury Road Toorak in the Toorak Village shopping precinct. To contact the shop telephone 9827 3172.
Geelong Grammar School Toorak Campus
The Geelong Grammar School Toorak campus is a junior school located in the heart of Toorak. The parish association with the school extends back to its founding as the Glamorgan Preparatory School. A memorial plaque inside St. John’s testifies to the involvement at St. John’s, over a great many years, from the time of the founder and Principal of the school, Ms Isabel McComas. The whole school attends services of worship at St. John's on a regular basis.
St Catherine’s School
The first meeting of trustees at which the parish of St. John’s was established was held in the Heyington Place home of Mr. Dauglish, in November 1859. The building is now known as Sherren House and is part of St. Catherine’s School, Toorak. Since the school moved to its present site in Heyington Place in 1920, strong links have existed between St. John’s and St. Catherine’s School. Together with the Toorak Uniting Church, St. John’s provides a venue for church services for students of the school at Easter and Christmas, and its clergy participate in the annual school church service. The vicar of St. John’s is an ex officio member of the School Council.
Armed Forces and Toorak RSL
The service and sacrifice given by so many in times of war is reflected in many ways at St. John’s. In addition to the Soldiers Memorial at the front of the church, there are numerous windows and memorials inside the church dedicated in memory of those who served and lost their lives in the First and Second World Wars. Among them are memorials to the son of the second vicar of the parish, Canon Drought, who lost his life in the First World War, and to the father of the sixth vicar, the Revd Thomas Gee, who died in the same conflict. The church conatins a Book of Memory listing those men and women of the parish who served in the Second World War. On the Sunday nearest Remembrance Day (11th November) each year, St. John’s conducts a service in conjunction with the Toorak RSL in memory of all who have served, and all who have given their lives, in times of war. The vicar of St. John's is a member of the Toorak RSL.
Country Women's Association (CWA)
The CWA have a well established presence in Toorak, offering affordable accommodation through a bed & breakfast hostel located in an historic property on Lansell Rd. For more details click here. Each year the CWA executive, with representatives from across Victoria, gather at St. John's for a Christmas carol service.
Reflecting the large involvement of a number of prominent Melbourne families at St. John’s over the years are many windows, memorials, and furnishings dedicated to some of the city’s pioneers and leaders in both politics and business. Many visitors to St. John’s spend considerable amounts of time reading the inscriptions on plaques fixed to the pews, walls, furnishings, at the base of windows, and in other places.