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John Drylie’s 25 years of ministry

Sunday 1 February was a day of celebration for West Coasters who marked Rev John and Jan Drylie's 25 years of ministry to the parish of St Andrew's United Church of Hokitika-Ross-South Westland.

About 150 guests, members of the congregation, and former parishioners who now live in other parts of New Zealand took part in the celebration. The event began with a communion service followed by the cutting of a special cake, morning tea, speeches and a lunch. Chris Auchinvole spoke on behalf of the wider church, Ian Davidson from Reefton spoke about John's work on the West Coast, Janice Harrison spoke on behalf of the St Andrew's, and Brenda Twidle from Harihari spoke about John and Jan's relationship with the South Westland part of St Andrew's United Parish.

Jan and John Drylie

In her talk Janice said over the years a number of other larger parishes sought John for their ministry but fortunately for the people of the West Coast, he and his family remained there.

“John’s knowledge of theology and his ability to deliver, unaided by notes, and without repetition, a thought provoking sermon, often with a fresh slant is something that we have taken for granted but would be the envy of many other parishes. People have stated that this is a very inclusive ministry where people are encourage to participate at what ever level they feel comfortable with,” Janice said.

John committed himself to the 4th Westland Boys’ Brigade. He also ran Education for Ministers, an inter-denominational group for ministry in local churches, as well as innumerable discussion groups. He led a worship team, and gave them the skills to lead services.

Janice said during John’s ministry a number of uniquely West Coast flavours were introduced to St Andrew’s. They include waving of palm leaves in the church on Palm Sunday and the Good Friday service with the cross having nails hammered into it, then on Easter Sunday after the sunrise service and breakfast butterflies are attached to the cross.

Jan has also been very active in the church, including Sunday Time, Youth Group and all the woman’s groups that were part of this church as well as a mother and a wife! She has been a mover and shaker with special events such as St Andrew’s nights, bring on the haggis, Olympics, church Christmas lunch and more recently your involvement in the Garden Ramble.

“An important part of the Drylies’ life has been their active involvement in our community. John was on WHS Board of Trustees, in the orchestra as a flautist, a chairman of Coast Care Trust, and a committee member of Presbyterian Support. Of course many of us remember the highs and lows of the six years that Jan and John were the civic leaders of Hokitika and they have remained as loyal as ever to this place,” Janice said.