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Weteriana House
50 Langdons Road
Papanui
Christchurch 8053

Postal address
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PO Box 931, Christchurch 8140

T. (03) 366 6049   I. 0800 266 639

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They worked behind the scenes

By Marcia Baker

Often in the Archives we receive requests for information about people, who, in their time, were very involved in the life of the Methodist Church. It is sometimes hard to find written information for the inquirer because these people could be described using these same symbols. They were people who faithfully used their talents quietly and unobtrusively in the service of others. There were others who were leaders but also served in a similar manner.

In a parish where we lived there was a blind that was pulled up each Sunday. One week the steward on duty suddenly noticed that this blind was still down. Had some unknown person been negligent? He was silent when the reply came – 'no, this quiet worker had died the night before’.

I had never heard of the Sanson Bequest until recently we received in the archives a minute book and some papers. In his time the instigator of this fund, Henry Sanson, was well known in the area of New Zealand which now bears his name. He was active in the local County Council, in education and in the church. Prior to that he had been superintendent at one stage of the Hutt Sunday School and on shifting north arranged services in his own home and later assisted in the building of the Sanson Church.

Later he moved on to Rongotea where he again established a church, and when preachers were not able to attend he conducted the worship. Later he became a stalwart supporter of Wesley Church in Wellington, a man described as having "a clear head, a warm heart and a liberal hand".

I found a delightful account of the Sanson golden wedding. The cake was ‘a splendid specimen of the confectioner's art and upon dissection it proved a veritable gold mine, yielding varied treasures to almost every prospector - a wedding ring for the bride, and rings and thimbles for the bridesmaids’. The bridegroom's gift to the bride was a gold watch, and family presents included a gold chain and brooch, and gold and greenstone sleeve links.

When Henry Sanson died in 1911 he left 100 pounds to the Wellington branch of the Local Preachers' Mutual Aid Association to help those lay preachers and their families who were experiencing financial stress, and to establish a preachers' library. The money was invested and the interest used.

In the following years, and especially during Depression days, many benefited from this fund, but as the years passed there were virtually no calls on this fund. In 1976 the money had grown to $1176. It was decided that most of this money be shared amongst Wellington district churches where there were local preachers who needed books and libraries.

Many people remember the help of contemporaries during their lives, and others have been most grateful to people such as Henry Sanson whom they have never known but have been helped by similar trusts established in their memory. As the Church of today we thank God for all those who give wherever there is a need. In this way God's love is extended.