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Marton Methodists close door on past

Are you thermometers or thermostats? Methodist Church of NZ general secretary Jill van de Geer posed this question to the members of the Marton Methodist congregation as part of her sermon during the Feb 6th ceremony that marked the deconsecration of their church buildings.

The small Marton congregation has decided to sell its Wellington Road property and two church buildings that date back to 1872 and 1891. It will continue to worship in rented premises using some items from the old church.

The deconsecration ceremony was a chance to look back on the 137 years of witness and faithful service Methodists have lived out in Rangaitikei. It was also a chance to look forward, and it was in this spirit that Jill asked her question.

She observed that thermometers merely reflect their environment while thermostats react to external temperatures in an active way. And she challenged the congregation to be thermostats as they leave the safe haven of their buildings.

“The choice is yours. Hark back to the past, be thermometers replicating the surroundings. This will not bring new vision or new life. Your community will have no future and will surely fade away.

“However, if you pick up the challenge you have set yourselves to be salt and light, and a true presence of Christ in Marton, then I believe God will give you a future. Your community will become a thermostat, and you will have power to change things around you.” Jill said.

RNZAF chaplain Rev Jack Wright and co-superintendent of the Methodist district synod John Thornley officially deconsecrated the Marton church during the ceremony.

More than 170 people were present, and many used the occasion to reunite with family and friends. Two people travelled from Australia for the event and one came from Canada.

After the ceremony was a celebratory luncheon. Rev Edward Boyd was the MC for the event, which included speeches by deputy mayor Andy Watson, Dr Merv Hancock, and Rev Tom Waight. The Marton Floral Group and local Lions helped with flower arrangements and organisation of the event.