Vine Church + St Michael's is all about Jesus. We are a group of people who seek God, love others and serve the city. We don’t expect everyone to be Christian, in fact we love the fact that many are coming to check out Jesus for the first time. Our prayer is that we would be a community where you can seek God in an honest and authentic way, where there is genuine love for others who are different from us, and where the city is served in creative and practical ways.
As a church we seek to uphold the central truths of the Christian faith. For more information about what we believe see our doctrinal statement here.
If you would like to know how you can know God, please start here.
If you would like to discover more about Jesus in a relaxed atmosphere, please check out our Christianity Explored course.
Toby Neal, Lead Pastor
Toby’s journey to becoming Lead Pastor at Vine Church + St Michael’s started more than 15 years ago when he took off to surf the reef breaks off Samoa with his brother. Worried for his safety, his dad asked to him, “Why are you risking your life surfing when you could be risking it telling people about Jesus?”
The lure of the waves proved too strong and Toby still went to Samoa, but he came back with a desire to travel throughout the Middle East sharing the hope and freedom that only Jesus brings.
He may not be risking his life talking about Jesus in Surry Hills, but Toby does think most people in our city are too distracted to give time to think through the claims of Jesus, and believes someone needs to help ‘undistractify’ them in order to save theirs.
Toby originally studied accounting and finance (B Com (Acc), B App Fin) and worked in the industry for a couple of years before moving into church work. He has worked for St Philip's York Street, St Andrew's Cathedral and Christ Church Gladesville. In 2011 he graduated with a B Divinity (Honours 2A) at Moore Theological College and is ordained as a Deacon in the Anglican Diocese of Sydney.
Toby lives in Surry Hills with his wife Liz and his three kids Maisy, Evie and Archer. He especially enjoys training for triathlons, having competed in two at Ironman distance.
Esther Neate, City Pastor
Don’t be concerned if you bump into Esther and her hands are a mess. It’s likely she’s been printing, handling porcelain, or a football, digging through the veggie patch, or whatever her toddler Dexter is into that week.
Esther jumped on board in August 2016 to fill Steph’s maternity leave position. She has a passion for seeing people encouraged and growing to know themselves more in the light of Christ. She has over 16 years of lay ministry experience and a background in high school teaching. She also works part time as an artist and a lecturer in Printmaking since finishing her Masters of Fine Arts a few years ago.
Esther, husband Michael and Dexter enjoy community living with 6 others in a Surry Hills share house. If she needs to escape the house you might find her at a local exhibition, out for a sketch and a quiet drink, or on a slide with her son.
Joel Hollier, Mission & Membership Pastor
Hailing from the leafy ‘burbs of the Blue Mountains, Joel jumped aboard the Surry Hills bandwagon in 2016 excited for good coffee and new chums.
After completing his studies in social work at UNSW in 2012, Joel worked with asylum seekers in Western Sydney and tackled the Masters of Divinity at Sydney Missionary and Bible College before taking up the role of Missions and Membership Pastor at Vine Church + St Michael’s.
When money and time permit, Joel loves to get all cultured with theatre, reading, graphic design and other arty pursuits. But mainly he fills his diary with people — lots of people. If you want to win him over, ask Joel to meet you for a coffee and a chat and you will be well on your way.
Andrew Bryan, Maturity Pastor
Andy was greatly blessed to grow up in a Christian home on the leafy North Shore of Sydney. But there came a time when he wanted to know if Jesus really was who he said he was, so he began investigating while was working on site as a landscaper.
The result of the investigation was that Jesus was real and truly who he said he was. For Andy, this discovery changed the direction of his life.
The change of direction lead him to study at Moore Theological College and serve at St Matthew’s Anglican West Pymble, St John’s at Glebe, and Naremburn Cammeray Anglican Church. Finally it has led him to Vine Church, where he serves as the Maturity Pastor.
Andy is married to Jess and loves sharing his life with her. He likes cooking (and eating), cycling, reading, and playing or watching just about any sport that he can. He loves making things with his hands, growing anything edible, and has something of a secret love of renovation shows.
Brian Leung, Student Minister
"Quiet and conscientious" were the words Brian got most often on his school report cards. But being a teacher's pet didn't bring him a whole lot of confidence before the God of the universe. So it was at the end of high school that he started to check out what the Bible had to say for himself as part of a youth Bible study, and discovered the great news of Jesus Christ, Lord and Saviour.
Brian went on to co-lead the Engineering faculty of the Sydney University Evangelical Union before graduating and working as a programmer. Despite loving the coding life, he put that on hold to return to the Evangelical Union at Sydney University as a ministry apprentice. It was there that he developed a passion for teaching the Bible to others.
Brian married Steph in 2015 and is now in his second year studying at Sydney Missionary and Bible College. He joined the team at Vine Church in 2016 to help lead kids church. He loves playing the piano and piano accordion, reading non-fiction, and running around on the basketball court - though you probably don't want him on your team!
Seb Lane, Student Minister
It was over coffee at Reuben Hills and a good story from Toby about his surfing trip to Samoa that Seb decided in late 2014 to join the team at Vine Church as a Student Pastor. Seb has a passion for seeing God’s people grow in their love for Christ and one another, and for introducing people to Jesus for the first time.
He previously worked as an Executive Associate for CIRCLE consultancy, and more recently completed a two-year ministry training apprenticeship with the Evangelical Union at the University of Sydney. This year will be his second year of a B.Divinity studying at Moore Theological College in Newtown.
Seb lives in Dulwich Hill with his wife Jess and loves a good a BBQ with friends, enjoys playing strategic board games, and is always up for watching or playing cricket all year round.
Meg Chatterton, Ministry Admin
Meg joined Vine Church in 2012, a year after moving over the bridge and being without a church family.
After completing her Bachelor of Design at COFA (now UNSW Art & Design), she started her own graphic design business.
Though she has always considered herself a creative type, Meg was surprised at how much she enjoyed volunteering in an admin role at Vine, and in 2015 became a part-time staff member.
Meg lives in the inner west and likes walking the Bay Run, reading design blogs and having a good boogie. She treasures the encouragement she receives at Vine and loves to support other women as they persevere in their faith.
Paulette Gray, Bookkeeper
Paulette has been attending St Michael’s (9:30am and 11:30am and the now defunct feast@five) for a long time and sneaks into 4.30pm occasionally (note the long coat, hat and dark glasses - or read the name tag).
During that time Paulette has been Warden, Parish Councillor, Treasurer, Children’s Ministry Assistant, Service Leader and Mardi Gras Outreach Team Leader, and has a continuing role as a Vanuatu Short-term Missionary and SRE Teacher and Bookkeeper.
She also has roles in Liberty Christian Ministries and SRE organisations... (she thinks that the trouble with age is that the experience looks impressive). Her qualifications include Moore College ThC and various Diplomas, including Financial Services.
Affiliation and governance
Vine Church started in 2011 as a new Anglican church in the city helping people who wouldn't normally go to church understand the relevance of Jesus to their lives. In August 2015 our Lead Pastor, Toby Neal, was invited to become the Lead Pastor of St Michael's Anglican Church, the oldest church in Surry Hills. Toby accepted this position because he could see the enourmous opportunities of bringing together all the people and resources of both churches under one mission to reach the city.
The financial management of Vine Church is overseen by Wardens and a Parish Council. These groups are chaired by the Lead Pastor (Toby Neal), and made up of three wardens (Mia Cox, Alexis Linton and Pauline Oh) and four Parish Council (Alison Westbrook, Justin Yoon, Mario Chan and Peili Guan). These groups ensure the property and finances of the church are well managed and that any governance matters are dealt with in an ethical way. Members of the church are invited and should get in contact with one of the wardens if they would like to discuss any matters pertaining to the governance of the church.
The spiritual leadership of Vine Church is conducted by three groups: staff, ministry team leaders and community group leaders. Both these groups meet regularly during the year to plan how we will achieve our mission and care for those in our church. These groups are a mix of men and women who love Jesus and committed to the vision of Vine Church.
If you would like to speak to one of the men or women leaders at Vine Church, or would like more information about one of our meetings please don't hesitate to contact us below.