This year 2003 is significant in the history of Methodism in the Waimate Parish, with several Anniversaries of note for St Paul’s Church, 140th for beginning of Methodism, 115th for Church, 75th for Hall and 45th for Barnett Memorial Parlour.
As a small Parish we wondered how best to celebrate these milestones, as we only have a part time presbyter and a very small worshipping congregation of approx 25, we wanted something significant that could be shared by all.
Past presbyters were written to and invited to visit the Parish and lead a worship service or send some reflections that could be shared, some time during the year
The response was wondeful. Rev Ivan Clucas and Lois were holidaying in the South Island and spent two days in Waimate having an "at Home" day at the home of one of the parishioners, folks came and went all day sharing meals and cups of tea and lots of chatter and recalling of memories.
Rev Ian MacLeod and Gladys, Ian and Chris Clarke, Shirley Ungemuth and Andrew Donaldson have all lead worship services.
Rev David Pratt sent a wonderful letter of memories of his sojourn in Waimate with Joycelyn and family, and this was shared with the congregation.
Rev Graeme Hawkey, South Canterbury District President, whose parents were loyal members of the church for many years, has lead two services, and Joan Edmonston, Vicar of St Augustine’s Anglican Church, who is the great-great-granddaughter of George Manchester and whose mother attended St Paul’s and was a Sunday School teacher, also preached. Joan remembered being at the 100th Celebration with her parents. Also some past lay –preachers accepted the invitation to lead a service.
So in many ways it has been a wonderful experience to mark the special anniversaries, in the form chosen and has been an on-going party as we always had a shared lunch with the visiting preachers, when we could relax and chat and catch up on news.
The beginning of Methodism in Waimate can be traced back to 1863 with the arrival and settlement of
John and George Manchester and in 1865, when Waimate was just a town of less than 300 people, among them a number of families who had Methodist connections in England, a Church site was given and a small building 25 ft by 18 ft was erected for ?110.
Waimate was part of the Timaru Circuit for 12 years and became a separate circuit in 1877.
In April 1886 a fire, which started in a hotel nearby, got out of control and destroyed the Church and Sunday School buildings. Temporary rooms were found and worship continued until in 1887 the Manchester brothers offered the site of the present Church and opening services were held there in June 1888, the Hall was built in 1928 and the Barnett Memorial Parlour in 1958.
There was also a Primitive Methodist Church in Harris Street and services started there in 1875; this building is still in use, now by the Vintage Car Club.
Records show that two of the churches ministers served as Secretary of NZ Methodist Conference and eight became President.
A quote by Ivan Clucas from the Centennial Book in 1963 and still very relevant today "This history is dedicated to all those who in the past have worshipped and served Jesus Christ through the fellowship of the Waimate Methodist Church, such and anniversary is a time when we remember the heritage that has been given to us, and it’s challenge to accept the opportunities of the future"
As a Parish we are not sure of our future, but we will carry on in faith, loyalty and commitment as has been done in the past. A past that we have much to thank God for.
Waimate Methodist Church 1888- 2008
St Paul’s Methodist Church Waimate will have a month of celebration through June this year, 2008, as they celebrate 120 years of worshipping in the building. First service was held in June 1888, after the present brick building was completed.
The beginnings of Methodism in Waimate can be traced back to 1863 and the first church 25 feet by 18 feet build in 1865 at a cost of ?110. A few years later it was enlarged by 15 feet at a cost of ?60. In 1875 a more permanent site was acquired for ?60 and a new church capable of seating 300 was build for a cost of ?1100 of which ?571 was raised before the opening and the debt was paid off by the end of the year! Disaster struck in 1886 and the building was destroyed by fire.
There was insurance of ?900 and with this the Temperance Hall was purchased, but it could only seat 150, so it was felt a new church was needed. In May 1887 the offer of the Manchester brothers, whose family had been associated with Methodism from its start in Waimate, of the present site was agreed upon and a brick church with Oamaru stone facings 55 feet by 36 feet with seating for 300 was decided upon. Towards the end of the year the foundation stone of St Paul’s was laid by Rev William Rouse and the first service held in June 1888 by Rev W J Williams.
The cost of the building was ?1100 but at the time of the opening the debt remaining was only ?100. Worship continues today with only a small but loyal congregation, led in worship by visiting preachers, retired Methodist and Presbyterian ministers, lay preachers, lay people, MWF members and others, continuing the Methodist witness in the community.
As part of the celebrations,a Sunday School and Bible Class Reunion has been planned by Jocelyn Jones(Brown) and Margaret Macauley(Miller) who endeavoured to trace as many ex Sunday School and Bible Class members for the get together on the weekend of 28th and 29th June.