Te Aroha Methodist Church and Circuit 1881-1956
IT is both an honour and a joy to write this foreword; a joy enhanced by my personal acquaintance with so many of the devoted men and women who served the Church during the twenty-one years prior to my arrival in the Te Aroha district in 1902. The fifty-four years close association with our Methodist work since then, enables me, with some of you, to look back with thankfulness and also forward with hope. We should be more than ever a people of faith and hope and of a good courage, for, despite the hardships and the struggle for a living in those early decades, men and women both ministerial and lay toiled hard and gave sacrificially to ensure and maintain the Christian witness and worship, both in the town and rural areas.
Goldmining, though mainly responsible for the birth of Te Aroha, proved uneconomical, but by 1902, a new golden era for the district, and indeed for the whole Dominion, opened up. The invention of marine refrigeration and the cream separator gave the settlers a new vision, resulting in much closer settlement, and the rise of a prosperous co-operative dairying industry surpassing man's most sanguine hopes.
We give thanks to God for the inspiring memories of devoted men and women who, despite the urgent claims of land development and of transport and drainage problems were determined to put first things first. At Te Aroha itself a keen band of workers laid the foundations of Church life and over the years the work has been consolidated, churches built, Sunday School and parsonage buildings erected. In the country areas services were held first in private homes at Waitoa, Te Aroha West, Eastport and Springdale until Schools and Churches could be built. Population increased so rapidly that by 1914 the Upper Thames Circuit, which until then included Morrinsville, Paeroa, Waihi, Matamata and Putaruru, having Te Aroha as its administrative centre, was divided into six separate Circuits.
These achievements challenge us to face the problems peculiar to our day. The advent of the motor car, good roads, modern electric conveniences in homes, factories and on farms, also the radio, the cinema and soon television are all very disturbing factors, but should eventually serve to enrich rather than to impoverish Church life.
Conspicuous in these present days is the world-wide movement towards Church Union. That it is a work of the Holy Spirit there can be little doubt. God is calling His Church, now so unhappily divided, to be reconciled to Him and to each other; maybe, in order that the nations of the world might also find reconciliation and peace in the rich fellowship of the Christian Faith and Brotherly Love.
We hope the record in this little Brochure of our 75th Jubilee and of the humble yet faithful Christian service during these 75 years of Methodist work and worship will be a challenge to all who read it, and we hope, an incentive to maintain the rich heritage handed down to us.
CHAS. F. HORN.