Jock (pictured) was born in Ivanhoe, but spent most of his youth in Northcote where his father was a bank manager, and where he attended primary school, high school and the Methodist church in High Street. He took his first job in the dispatch office at McPhersons nut and bolt factory in North Richmond in 1935. After a short time at McPhersons he moved to the Trustees Executors and Agency Company in 1936.
While working at the Trustees, Jock developed the conviction that his vocation lay with the Church. This necessitated studying matriculation at night school for two years as well as working and studying to become a preacher. The minister at Northcote at the time, Rev F T Cleverdon, helped him prepare to apply as a candidate for ordination.
Jock was accepted by the 1940 Victorian Methodist Conference as a candidate for the ministry and started his studies for theological training and an arts degree at Melbourne University that year. Because of a shortage of ministers, due to the war, Jock was taken out of Queen’s in 1943 to take charge of two small churches in Caulfield.
Jock was ordained in 1945 – and married two days later to Elsie Chipperfield.
He later joined the RAAF as a chaplain and was sent to Borneo. Returning to Australia in early 1946, he was then appointed to Orbost for a year, Bracknell in Tasmania in 1948, followed by Reid in Canberra, 1951.
The next move was to Portland in 1954. Unfortunately not long after this, Elsie was diagnosed with breast cancer. This necessitated a move back to Melbourne – to Mitcham in 1957. Elsie died in December 1957.
This period was a very hard time as Jock had four young daughters. His mother helped out by living in for most of the week until Jock was married to Peg in 1959 and their son was born in 1961.
In 1964 Jock was moved to Launceston, his first city church. These years were challenging for Jock as he felt compelled to speak out around social issues, such as the Vietnam War and Aboriginal rights, although many did not agree with his view.
In 1969 Jock was moved to Horsham to take up the role of Separated Chairman of the North-Western District. It was a demanding job but richly rewarding.
In 1971 Jock was elected Secretary of the Methodist Conference and in 1972 was voted President of the Conference.
He felt it an honour and a vote of confidence by clergy and lay people.
The final move was to Geelong in 1976 where Jock was the minister at Wesley until 1983. Jock found Geelong a very satisfying parish in which to finish his active ministry.
It was while he was Minister of Wesley Church, Geelong, that the Uniting Church came into being and Jock became the first chairperson of the Barwon Presbytery.
Jock was very surprised to be elected as the third Moderator of the Uniting Church in Victoria, to take office in 1979/1980.
In the words of Rev Prof Norman Young and Rev Peter Gador-Whyte at Jock’s funeral service:
“We are here today to give thanks to God for Jock Lavender; a gentle man of great compassion, humour and humility. We gather to remember the love he shared so generously, the faith he lived so graciously, and the hope he expressed both in his preaching and in his presence.”
Written by Peg Lavender and her family.