St Mark’s: A Place of Marriage, Community and Christianity

My project highlights how marriage, community and faith intersect at St Mark’s, Darling Point. These are the project’s key themes and they underpin the central arguments: St Mark’s offers a supportive and inclusive community, and faith positively aids marriages and lives.

Thomas and Daile Falconer’s wedding at St Mark’s, 2019

The project conveys the long-lasting relationship individuals and couples have with the church. The interviews indicate the change and continuities at St Mark’s. Despite experiencing different rectors and decades, the couples’ conclusions are the same: St Mark’s offers an invaluable environment and faith continues to aid marriage.

Primary sources including oral histories and interviews underpin this project. This is extremely appropriate as the project aims to celebrate the church’s community; they are invaluable sources of knowledge. Information for the bios was exclusively sourced via oral histories. These conversations ranged from two-to-three hours. Rector Michael Jensen and other members of the community provided information for the Instagram posts and Welcome to Country. Secondary sources including Wherein Thine Honour Dwells by Horace William Alexander Bader and Honourable Engagement St Mark’s Church Darling Point: The First 150 Years by Susan Withycombe supplied contextual information. Information about Elton John’s wedding was drawn from interviews and an ABC docuseries. The docuseries’ producer provided consent for the program to be used.

The project leverages St Mark’s established communication channels: their Instagram and website. Parishioners visit these channels regularly to see upcoming events, etc. Couples considering St Mark’s for their wedding search for the church on Instagram. As the Instagram posts will be ‘geotagged’ and published to the official account, people will be exposed to the content.

The Instagram and website content are similar but written differently. Although the Instagram posts contain long-form captions, the information is more succinct than that of the website bios. This is intentional; even long-form captions need to capture the reader’s attention quickly and only key information is required.  Alternatively, the website’s bios are ‘meatier’. The audience is receiving more information in a drawn-out manner.

The Welcome to Country is the first step in acknowledging the First Nation’s Peoples and their status as traditional custodians of the land on which St Mark’s sits. It will be published to the St Mark’s website.

Overall, this project has been a joy to make. Each couple and member of the St Mark’s community has been extremely kind, forthcoming, and eager to help. They have offered hours of their time without question and welcomed me into their homes.

Muriel’s Wedding, Elton John and my Great-Grandparents: St Mark’s Church

I have chosen to work with St Mark’s Church, Darling Point. St Mark’s was opened in the mid-1850 and it was designed by Edmund Blacket. The church is built in thirteenth century English Gothic Style architecture. Reverend Dr. Michael Jensen is the current rector.

St Mark’s Church, Darling Point. Source: Charlotte Adcock, 2019

Although St Mark’s may not sound familiar to most, it is arguably one of Australia’s most recognisable churches. It has hosted two iconic and unlikely weddings. English pop star Elton John married Renate Blauel at the church in 1984, and it served as the chapel in the Australian 1994 film, Muriel’s Wedding. Although one wedding was short-lived and the other was purely fictional, the church’s picturesque naves and spire are unforgettable.

Elton John and Renate Blauel’s Wedding, 1984. Source: Vanity Fair, 2019

My family’s long-standing relationship with the church drove me to select it as my not-for-profit. Although I grew up in Brisbane, my mother’s family are from Sydney. The majority of my relatives have been christened and married there, myself included. My maternal grandparents and great-grandparents were also avid members of the St Mark’s community – their plaques can still be found in the church’s garden. The photograph (of a photograph) below is of my great-grandparents wedding at St Mark’s. There are identical photographs of my parents and grandparents on their wedding day at the church.

My Great-Grandparents. Source: Charlotte Adcock, 2019

The church is hosts a number of services daily and it is home to many community groups. Although I do not identify as religious, I value spirituality and want to experience the church as an adult – I have not attended a service at St Mark’s since I was a child. Therefore, this Sunday, I will attend the 5:30pm ‘Contemporary’ service. I am looking forward to the service and I believe it will provide me with greater insight into how the church operates and the community atmosphere.   

Although my specific project is unconfirmed, I am certainly interested in drawing on the community’s wealth of knowledge. According to Reverend Dr. Michael Jensen, there are currently six ninety-year-olds in the community and they would love to share their stories of the church. My project will likely be a written or audio history of St Mark’s most notable events. I am looking forward to delving into the church’s history and seeing what I can find!