THOMAS Leslie hopes to build Beechworth’s Anglican Christ Church as a centre of community life after his induction later this month as parish priest.
He said there was an opportunity for the historic church and its churchyard to become a place for all in the community, particularly with the monthly farmers’ market in the church grounds and its prospects for development as a keystone for culture and art.
“The church universally has a challenge to articulate the good news ñ to speak to the truth of love into a new generation,” Father Leslie said.
“We live in a very significantly changing world, and how we do that is very much a matter of being a part of local culture and the community.
“Hopefully there will be many opportunities for engagement and for pastoral care.”
Fr Leslie said the church already worked closely with Beechworth Health Service and its residents and patients and had a continuing relationship with the people of Beechworth Correctional Centre.
“We can extend that, I think, and I’m really excited with the idea of the farmers’ market and of interacting with the beating heart of this community in this way,” he said.
Fr Leslie has been priest at Yea and team vicar for Yea parish since 2014.
But he has a long association with the upper North East, where he was chaplain at Wangaratta’s Cathedral College and also associate priest at the rural city’s Holy Trinity Cathedral before his induction at Yea.
Fr Leslie said of the prospects in Beechworth and Eldorado that he would be always available as a priest to the community.
“I don’t mind what card (of denomination or faith or none) people carry,” he said.
“I am willing to offer what I can of myself.”
Wangaratta Anglican bishop John Parkes said Fr Leslie was a skilled and energetic priest.
“(He will) build strongly on the good work already accomplished in the parish,” he said.
Bishop Parkes will induct Fr Leslie at a special service in Christ Church on St Andrew’s Day – November 30 – at 6.30pm.
Archdeacon of the Hume Fr Peter MacLeod Miller and rural dean and Myrtleford priest Fr Scott Jessup will also participate.
All in the Beechworth community are welcome to attend.