Hawera’s season of celebration
Autumn has been a season for celebrating and remembering at Wesley Hawera. Over the Easter period the congregation marked the 100th birthday of its historic church building and cheered the diamond wedding anniversaries of two of its prominent couples.
Len and Esther Willing celebrated their 60 years together on March 30th while Frank and Ailsa Eades celebrated theirs on April 13th.
Len is a retired presbyter who has the unique experience of serving in both the Pakeha and Maori branches of Te Haahi Weteriana. He served in Pakeha congregations in Ngaio, Taihape (where he met Esther), Miramar, Christchurch, Lower Hutt, and Hawera. He also took time off from ministry to serve in the Department of Child Welfare.
After serving in Wesley Hawera for six years, in 1977 Len switched to Te Taha Maori. Though he was nearing retirement at the time, his work there became another career. He studied Maori language and Pacific history. He still carries Taha Maori membership and is considered a kaumatua by Taranaki Maori Methodists.
Ailsa Eades was very active in the life of Wesley Hawera though she has been a Methodist less time than she has been married (a mere 50 years). Ailsa and Frank have four children, 15 grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren. Frank was a prisoner of war for five years during World War II.
On Palm Sunday nearly 100 people joined in worship at Wesley Hawera to celebrate and commemorate the 100th anniversary of a church building now classified by the Historic Places Trust.
Hymns old and new filled the church, from Charles Wesley’s ‘O for a thousand tongues to sing’, to Colin Gibson’s ‘In this familiar place’. And after the service a great time of fellowship followed around a catered lunch and cake.
Hawera presbyter Jan Fogg says the message for the day was to see through the old church’s eyes, the changes it had witnessed over 100 years. In her presentation Jan said in 1906 the people called Methodist began a new story in Hawera.
“100 years ago those people held the first service of worship inside this building – brand new, smelling of rich timbers and new paint. A courageous faith had won out over any uncertainties and fears, and the Wesleyan Methodists stepped out, in the first years of a brand new century, boldly pronouncing their faith into the town of Hawera.
“Today there’s no less need for us to tell, show and do God’s story in our community. So let us step out in faith, whether the waters be rough or smooth. Lets be ready to test our faith in some unexpected places. And let’s be willing to give up all, to follow the lead of the One who gave up all for us.”