In 1996, Reverend John Leaver, in conjunction with four foundation schools, set out to form the Association of Ecumenical Schools of Victoria Inc, which later became the Victorian Ecumenical System of Schools Ltd (VESS).
Ecumenism promotes unity and cooperation between distinct denominations of Christianity to develop closer relationships and better understanding between them.
Our representation of ecumenism means that VESS Schools:
- represent a number of different Christian faith traditions;
- within and/or between schools, promote co-operation between different denominations and faith traditions.
The ways VESS schools demonstrate ecumenism fall into three categories:
- Multi-denominational schools formed by the co-operation of different churches (such as the first VESS School, Highview College, Maryborough, which was formed jointly by Anglican, Catholic, Uniting and Church of Christ congregations)
- Denominational schools, affiliated with a particular church such as Anglican, Uniting, Christian Science or Baptist.
- Non-denominational schools which have no church affiliation but subscribe to Christian values.
All VESS schools have a commitment to co-operation in a Christian spirit which binds them together, and makes them “ecumenical”, generally having liberal Christian faith traditions.
- Highview College, Maryborough
- Christian Community College, Portland (now Bayview College) – left VESS in 2013
- Newhaven College, Newhaven
- Cranbourne Christian Community College, Cranbourne (now Casey Grammar School)
Since 1996, the following schools have become members of VESS:
1998Bacchus Marsh Grammar School, Bacchus Marsh
1999Braemar College, Woodend
Ballarat Grammar, Wendouree
Ballarat Clarendon College, Ballarat
Goulburn Valley Grammar School, Shepparton
Gippsland Grammar School, Sale and Bairnsdale
2000Westbourne Grammar School, Truganina and Newport
The Hamilton & Alexandra College, Hamilton
2001Peninsula Grammar, Mount Eliza
2003The Geelong College, Newtown
2007Balcombe Grammar School, Mount Martha
2016Huntingtower School, Mount Waverley
2017St Paul’s Anglican Grammar School, Warragul and Traralgon
Currently there are 17 member schools educating over 16,500 local students, plus many kindergarten and international students.