‘Special church’ reflects on rich history

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When Oamaru’s Colin Hay reflects on his time as Reverend at St Paul’s Presbyterian Church, he describes it as the highlight of his years as a minister.

“It’s always been a very special church,” he said.

Over the weekend, the church celebrated the 150th anniversary since the first minister, Rev Charles Connor, was ordained.

The pews were full at the special service, held Sunday morning and past ministers Rev Colin Hay, Rev Peter MacKenzie and Rev Kim Bathgate were present to be a part of the celebrations.

The weekend’s itinerary included an informal get-together on Friday afternoon and a recital on Saturday morning, followed by yesterday morning’s service.

Rev Hay said at one stage that St Paul’s was the largest congregation in New Zealand.

“You had to be early to get a seat,” he said.

Rev Hay was the minister at St Paul’s from 2001 until 2009, when he retired.

“I don’t think there’s an Oamaru institution in that hasn’t had somebody from St Paul’s involved with them,” he said.

Rev Peter MacKenzie said the past 13 years since he left St Paul’s had gone by far too quickly.

Southern Presbytery moderator Rev Dr Selwyn Yeoman used a metaphor of rowing to describe the future direction of the church.

He said, like rowing, to go forward you must look back, but added that it was also important to look forward, like kayaking.

“We are in the business of changing tradition,” he said.

“The tradition is always changing.”

Reverend Rose Luxford, who is the church’s 19th minister, said when the church was first built, it had a roll of 104, plus the Sunday School attendees.

Rev Luxford said the church, which walls were only eight feet tall, was replaced in 1876.

She said it was lovely to share in the celebrations with the past ministers, past members and those involved currently with the church.

 

By JESSIE WAITE