In all matters, Unity; in non-essential matters, Liberty; in all things, Charity.

St Johns Anglican Church Ballarat has a long, proud history of serving the community of Soldiers Hill. Through the dedication of our leaderers, pastors and volunteers, we are committed to the teachings of Jesus Christ, and are here to spread His message. We seek to be a welcoming community of faith, inviting anyone to join us no matter your age or background, together we strive to lead all who walk with us towards a deeper love of God in Word, Sacrament and Service.

Holy Eucharist

In the beginning there was a goldfield. Miners came and as prosperity spread and business enterprises developed, families appeared and residential areas developed.

By 1861 the population grew and talk turned to the necessity for a church on Soldiers Hill (Ballarat North). A meeting was called at the Olive Branch Hotel – word spread and the talk turned to action. The first services were held in a tent and later in an old bar room moved from Bath’s Hotel.

Three years later plans were made for a brick building and the opening service was held on February 19, 1865.

In 1870 it was found necessary to enlarge the building and the sanctuary and chancel were added. 1891 saw the installation of a Fincham and Hobday organ. The music from this instrument and the choir have always enhanced our worship.

From these beginnings there have been 21 incumbents (Vicars and Rectors)

We are, today, a worshipping parish family and our prayer life is augmented by two Prayer Groups (one of these is a Sing and Pray Group) and a nineteen member Prayer Circle. We have 4 Eucharistic Assistants, a Sacristan and a roster for Servers, Lay readers and Welcomers.

Active organisations are:

• Mothers’ Union

• Girls Friendly Society Townsend Group

• Anglican Men’s Society.

The spectacular church grounds and properties are very well cared for by a group of willing and capable parishioners.

The Church interior has changed over the years, shape and size have altered, church furniture has developed a patina and beautiful windows have been introduced. You will notice that they are in biblical order and tell the story of Christ in a dramatically picturesque manner. Also notice the atmosphere of St John’s, an atmosphere not always felt in churches, but very evident in our church.

​“ Come on in, the air is beautiful.”

Fr Chris Keast

Fr Chris Keast

A former Queenslander, Fr Chris took the long road answering his call to ministry. He was raised in the Roman Catholic tradition and even discerned a call to the Priesthood, later spending several years in a Seminary studying and testing that vocation. Eventually that discernment led him from the Seminary, but he retained a great sense of purpose and faith.

For 13 years he served as a Maritime Warfare Officer in the Royal Australian Navy, his first ship was the frigate HMAS Ballarat in 2004. ​During his time in the Navy, Fr Chris served in a number ships and establishments involved in various operational and routine service. 

After ​Fr Chris left the Navy he moved with Elizabeth and their children to Ballarat when he began full time ministry as a Deacon at the Cathedral and the Parish of Holy Trinity Sebastopol in 2017. He was ordained a Priest on July 1st 2017. In 2019 he was appointed as the Priest in Charge of Holy Trinity and Locum Tenens to the parish of Beaufort and Skipton; while at the same time being appointed Domestic Chaplain to the Bishop of Ballarat. He began his ministry at St John's in April 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic began.

​​Fr Chris loves to watch a good movie (especially Star Wars), taking care of the family's menagerie of pets, but most of all spending time with his kids.

Fr Chris Keast

Fr Chris' Assistance Dog

Thora is a 4 year old Labrador Retriever who has been trained as an Assistance Dog. She is like other working animals - such as a guide dog - who has been trained to assist Fr Chris; she is also a great companion to those who meet her in his work.

Parish Groups

Mothers Union

The Mothers’ Union is a worldwide organisation within the Anglican Church which has a special concern for marriage and family life and the vision of “winning the homes of the nations for Christ.” Since 20

th July 1899, members of St Johns’ Soldiers’ Hill Mothers Union Branch have made strong commitments to the life of the parish by strengthening and supporting marriage and family life.

One hundred and eight years later twenty six members regularly attend monthly meetings held on the first Wednesday of the month at 1.30pm. The meetings commence with a service in the Lady Chapel or Parish Centre. Speakers and activities inspire and encourage us to uphold the ideas of Mary Sumner our Founder.

Members participate in weekly Masses as Altar Servers, readers, Welcomers, Choir members and for the Offertory and Offering. Our banner is paraded at our monthly corporate communion and we serve morning tea/coffee after the service. We arrange altar flowers and clean brass and woodwork in the church and assist at the monthly Tea and Transport service. On Mothering Sunday members make floral posies and provide simnel cake for the congregation.

A member sends cards to recently baptised children. Floral Guild members decorate the church for weddings. Each December we invite the ladies of the parish to Mass and a meal and deliver home made biscuits to “shut in” parishioners. Our members conduct cake stalls and lunch stalls at Parish Fairs, cater for Parish dinners and provide refreshments after funerals. Some members visit Hospitals and Geriatric Centres. Anglicare is supported by monthly individual, voluntary donations and with groceries for Christmas Hampers. Some members are trained Anglicare workers.

We maintain links with Mothers’ Union Branches in St Michael and All Angels, Trinidad, West Indies and St Mary at Stoke, England.

Members attend diocesan events and functions at other branches.

New members are always welcome to attend our meetings.

Girls Friendly Society

GFS celebrated its 140 years in the Ballarat Diocese in May 2023. Although we have no branches operating in the Ballarat Diocese mainly due to the fact that young people do not seem to attend church any more, we operate with an Executive Council and a Townsend Group..

 The Executive Council deals with the business of the organization and arranges the four Townsend meetings held each year.  These groups are mainly made up by ladies with a GFS or Anglican background. 

St John’s is well represented in the Townsend Group and also in the Executive Council. The business meetings and some Townsend meetings are held in St. John's Parish Centre

Members provide assistance both practically and financially to many individuals and organizations and are well known for their continual collection of handmade rugs and other items.

New members are always welcome.

Anglican Mens Society

Anglican Mens Society

The inaugural meeting of the Church of England Men’s Society was held at St John’s on 15th July 1910. Since that time the Society has been the embodiment of our church life, playing a pivotal role in continued commitment.

The men serve in many roles from Eucharistic Assistants, Parish Council members, Synod Representatives through the collection and distribution of food parcels for Anglicare and goods for the Op Shop to caring for the gardens and maintenance of the church and adjacent buildings.

These buildings include the Rectory. They also participate in church functions such as the Annual Fair.

They hold bi-monthly breakfasts prior to which members attend a special Mass. A close bond has been formed with Ballarat sister Anglican churches who are welcomed into our midst.

The Society has always had a strong bond with the Parish priests on the many important matters of Church life.