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Bank Street Methodist Church, Timaru

Churches give a town character and Timaru's churches are no exception.  In the course of years the original church buildings all became too small, and were superseded by the present substantial churches.  The Wesleyan Church, now Bank Street Methodist Church, of dark grey stone, was opened on 21 March 1875, replacing a wooden church opened ten years earlier.  The steeple added in 1930 does not command a prominence in skyline views like Timaru's other fine old churches - St Mary's, Chalmers and Sacred Heart but all add a different architectural style and interest and worth a visit. The church is just south of Church Street - the walk from St. Mary's to Bank Street Methodist is a couple of hundred yards is now a funeral home. In 1992 South Canterbury Funeral Serves opened. map

The Wesleyan Church with the old church building in the background. Image from a postcard.

In Gillespie's book 'South Canterbury A Record of Settlement' on page 385 there is a similar photo with the old wooden church in background. The original photo is at the South Canterbury Museum.  In the 'Historic Places' Trust magazine June 1999 there are two photos of the Wesleyan Church  - before and after the addition of the tower and steeple in 1930.  

The organ is tuned regularly.

Bank Street Methodist Church Historical Data
1845 Rev. Charles Creed camped at Timaru
1863 Rev. James Buller laid foundations for a circuit.
1865 Rev. J.B. Richardson first resident Methodist Minister landed.
1866 First Church built
1875 Wesley Church opened
1907 Wesley Hall opened
1930 Tower and steeple added
1942 North St. Parsonage purchased.
1971 Arthur St. Parsonage built.
1992 South Canterbury Funeral Services opened

Canterbury's ties to Methodism goes back to 1850 when and the "Cressy" sailed into Lyttelton Harbour and on board were Wesleyan members and their families. These united in a service of praise while the ship was lying at Gravesend. On their voyage as they passed down the Channel they held a prayer-meeting.  Among the 'pilgrims' there were many who were ardently attached to the church. They had not been there long when Rev. J. Watkins, Superintendent of the Southern Missions held a service at Dampier Bay, Lyttelton, and also in the whare of Mr Isaac W. Philpott, in Hagley Park, near Riccarton Bush.  Mr Philpot's own family, with Mr Broughton and two other persons, constituted the congregation.  Local services, after the Wesleyan style kept the cause alive.

Roll of Honour

methroll.jpg (59926 bytes)
The Great War, 1914-1918
their name shall remain for ever and their glory shall not be blotted out.

*Barton, R.H.
Berry, E
Blackmore, E Nurse
Blackmore H
*Bowker, S
*Buttle, N.
Burnett E?
Cammden D
Campbell, L.
Clare, A
Clarke, E
Clarke, S.
Coe H.G.
Craven, F
Cross, H
Dale, C.H.
*Ferrier, C
Ferrier, H
*Fonseca, J
Fonseca, I
Foden, E
Foden, L
Fitzsimmons, W
Fraser, A
Fraser, H
Gardner, JR
*Gibson, S
Gibson, E
Gilchrist, WB
Gregoe, H
*Hardy, J
Hocking, W
Holdgate, EAG
Holdgate, RA
Holdgate, WE
Howe, CRH
Hurdley, I
*Logan, S
*Logan, G
Logan, R
Morrison, A
*McIntosh, S
McIntosh, K
Osborne, D
Osborne, W.H.
Orwin, F
Penrose, L
Penrose, H
*Radcliffe, H
Radcliffe, N
Rule, CR
Satterthwaite, SM
Saunderson, H
*Serpell, L
Shields, A
Sides, H
Sides, R
Sides, W
Stead, A
Stead, W
Strongman, P
Toneycliffe, J
Wagstaff, R
*Wallace, J
*Wallace, N
*Whitley, V
*Wagstaff, A
Wagstaff, S
Smith, RH

*Their bodies are buried in peace but their name liveth for ever more.

The impressive glasses are in the centre window bays, the rest being more-or-less uniform in the simpler style. Stain glass windows contribute to a church's decoration, style and character and are the most important source of light. From sunrise to noon to midnight the hues change and gain and loose prominence like the instruments in an orchestra. The blue gains prominence when the light wanes. To judge a window look at the size of the glass pieces, the smaller the better, and the effect of the lines of the leads, and whether the whole window gives a brilliant jewelled effect or whether it is only a picture painted on glass with landscape in perspective. 


To the Glory of God and as a Bowker Memorial these windows of uniform design are affectionately dedicated. 1st Nov. 1930. Unveiled 9th Aug. 1931.

Photos taken December 3rd 2002. Courtesy of Stumpy Marsh, Timaru.  

Greenwood, W. Woodlands Street, 92pp. 1964. Story of a Timaru Methodist Church, founded 1873 by Primitive Methodists.  Card D/j. Pages of portrait/group photos going back to the 1800s. Biographical index of names mentioned  - over 700. 

Timaru Herald, 8 April 1868, Page 3 WESLEYAN CHURCH.
On Sunday last the enlarged Wesleyan Church in Timaru, was opened the first time for divine service, on which occasion the Rev. H. Bull preached morning and evening. Collections were made on behalf of the foreign missions. On Monday evening, the quarterly tea meeting was held in the enlarged Chapel, when a large number of persons were present, as it was generally known that a farewell address and a purse would be presented to the Rev. J. B. Richardson. About 130 sat down to a substantial tea. After tea the Rev. H. Bull was moved to the chair and made a brief statement of the number of members in connection with the Church, and its prospects m Timaru. The Rev. J. B. Richardson was then called upon to address the meeting, and gave his experience of the past three years, and showed how it was that he was allotted to Timaru on his arrival from England, as it were by Providence. He said when on board the steamer on his way to Timaru, he had many anxious thoughts, which, however, were somewhat removed by a sight of the town, for he had pictured to his mind some wild heathenish place. As soon as he landed on the beach, one of the boatmen, now a member of the Church, came up to him and said are you the Custom House officer?" He said no." Then may be you are the Wesleyan Minister?"  In looking over the period which had elapsed since then, he could trace the hand of God guiding and directing his path and wonderfully opening his way. As he now retrospectively glanced over the many difficulties which presented themselves when in endeavouring to establish a cause here, he felt deeply humbled under a sense of Divine, Infinite and Fatherly love and help which had been afforded to him. He considered the past three years, perhaps the happiest three years he had ever spent, because God had been "the spring of all his joys," and because he had been associated with friends whose Christian character, had greatly tended to elevate his joys.
    The Chairman said, he had also been very agreeably surprised at the appearance of the town, and had never anticipated to find so large or populous a district as Timaru, or so fine and commodious a Chapel, which he thought was highly creditable to the members of the body.
    Mr Yardley was next called upon and addressed the meeting at some length on the subject of the departure of the Rev. Mr Richardson.
    Mr D'Oyly was then called upon and read the following farewell address, which he afterwards presented to the Rev. J. B. Richardson:- ...
Signed on behalf of the members and congregation, Geo. MANCHESTER, and G.W.  GARDNER, Circuit Stewards.
    Mr D'Oyly also presented the Rev. J. B. Richardson with a purse containing seventeen guineas, subscribed principally by the congregation, as a small token of esteem and regard, on the event of his departure. The Rev. J. B. .Richardson in reply to the address, rose to give thanks both for the address and for the presentation, and said he had only once in his life before been placed in a position be painful as that of the present occasion, and that was when he had to unclasp the arms of his mother when stepping on board the ship which bore him away from the land of his nativity. He said their kindness quite overwhelmed him. He did not in the least expect it, mid did not deserve it. He rejoiced in the hope of meeting many of them again where parting is unknown. He had cause also for sorrow, for he felt that he was leaving a home, a home of many sincere friends, and he also sorrowed because there were some whom, unless they trusted to his God and worked righteousness, he could not entertain a hope of ever meeting where there are joys for ever more. He blessed God that he had been brought to Timaru, but he felt that he had been an unprofitable servant, and were he to stand in the presence of God with the address in his hand it would shrivel up in his grasp and not belong to him at all. He knew he should stand as an unprofitable servant, and would have to acknowledge with truth that he was saved by the merits of his Master alone. After a few words in reference to his successor, the Rev. Mr Richardson resumed his seat. Brief addresses were then delivered by Messrs G. Manchester, D'Oyly, Gardner, P. Foster, and others. After votes of thanks the meeting concluded by singing and prayer.

Timaru Herald, 8 May 1869, Page 5
Wesley ay Church. The Rev. Henry Bull, the Wesleyan Minister, sailed by the Keera on 20th Aril last for Dunedin, to which circuit he has been appointed by the Wesleyan Conference. Mr Bull is succeeded by the Rev. Rainaford Bavin, who arrived in Timaru on the 17th, and preached two sermons on Sunday on behalf of foreign missions. Mr Bavin called a meeting of the Church on the following Wednesday, and introduced himself to his people. Mr Ravin has been labouring for the past two years in the Christchurch circuit.

Morley, William.  The History of Methodism in New Zealand - Page 456
Methodist Church in New Zealand - 1900 - 510 pages. South Canterbury section pages 447 - 457 online

The first Wesleyan service in Timaru was held in the house of Mr Clough, Sandie Town. At Waimate Messrs J. and G. Manchester held services. At Temuka, Mr Job Brown conducted a service in his own house in 1865 at which were present Messrs J. White, P. Dale, J. Anderson and others. Job Brown also preached at Mrs Maslin's, Geraldine. Rev. J. B. Richardson went down to Timaru by boat on April 23rd 1865 to meet with Mr Buller to form a Circuit. Richardson was welcomed by Mr H. Gilbert and stayed three years. He was succeeded by the Rev. H. Bull for one year, then Revs. Lee and Bavin for three years each, and the Rev. W. C. Oliver. From 1871 5 junior preachers were appointed but one one remained more than 12 months. Mr. P. Foster, a devoted local preacher and Mr George Butler were among the first members. Mr Richardson's first service was held by permission of the Presbyterians, in the Mechanics Hall, which they rented. Then the day school was hired. The first names on the minister's class book were Messrs J. Wallace, J. Maberley, W. Clough, J. Shields, G. Butler, J. Wallace, J. Brown, W. Wilcox, W.H. Dickers, Clark and H. Manchester. This met at the house of Mr Taylor, where the minister lodge. Mrs Maberley had charge of a female class, the members were Mesdames Clough, Scavar, Butler, Fonseca, Wallace, Sim, Brown, Blackmore, Chivers, Shileds, Mason and Walford. Presently the classes are divided, Messrs Dickers, P. Foster and Bird forming a second, with Mr Clough as leader. A site was given by Messrs Rhodes in Bank Street, and Mr Mabarley drew up the plans and was contractors for the church building, 32ft by 25ft. The building was completed, lined, a belfry added and a porch. The opening sermons were preached in October 1863 by the Rev. W. Cannell. A two storied extravagant villa on Butler Street was built for a married preacher.

The substantial stone church was erected in 1874 and 1875. The foundation stone was laid on October 28th by the Rev. J. Buller. It cost 1270. The church was to seat 400 persons. The Ladies Guild has been in effective operation raising money by bazaars. Mrs J. Jackson, the late Mrs Holdgate, Mesdames Guilbert, Bowker, F. Smith and others are entitled to great credit in this connection. Eventually the church was lengthened by 21ft and a chancel of wood added for choir and vestries. 140 additional sitting thus provided at a cost of 600 in 1890.

Mr P. Foster worked as a local preacher for 35 years and only recently passed to his heavenly rest. Mr Edwin Goldsmith was one of the original Trustees was called to his reward about three years ago. Mr Stephen Bird, one of the original congregation at Mr Elworthy's afterwards became caretaker of the Timaru Church. He died on a Sunday morning, when engaged in his work about the house of God. The late Mrs Holdgate was a member for over 30 years and by her gift of song rendered special service in the choir. Her unexpected death after a surgical operation, nearly three years since , was a heavy loss. Mrs Elizabeth Thomas, aged 81, joined the Society at St. Just in 1833.

The preaching stations are Fairview, five miles west of the town;
Claremont, eight miles north
Adair, six and a half south-west
Kingston and Springbrook, six and ten miles to the south.

Mr Beecroft stayed five years.
Messres Jackson and Holdgate filled the office of the Circuit Stewards for over 20 years.
Helpers - Mr F. Smith trained at St. Albans. Messrs Coe, Gilchrist, Vogeler and others.

We now have 12 local preachers, 3 class leaders and 20 Church members. In the three Sunday Schools, 38 teachers, 345 scholars.
Attendants on public worship number 600. The present minister is the Rev. J. Newsman Buttle, is a son of the Manse. Born on the Waipa Mission Station.

At Rangitata Island Mr S. Buxton established a service there. At Orton - 2 Sundays a month. At Hilton, Milford and Pleasant Point services have been discontinued. At Arowhenua, the Maoris still acknowledge allegiance to the Wesleyan Church. Rev. Peter Willis was appointed to the Circuit in 1883. He was born in Staffordshire. He died on Dec. 19th 1884 not only his wife and child but the whole church to lament his loss. Rev. W. Tinsley, minister in charge, arrived inn NZ in 1873 and worked in Auckland and Christchurch. At the moment he is away in England. His placed supplied for the year by Rev. J.H. Haaslam, from the Wellington Circuit, three years at Prince Albert College, now entering his first pastorate.

West Coast Times 28 January 1887, Page 4
At the Primitive Methodist Conference, the final draft of stations was�
Timaru, Rev J. E Jones, H.L.P.
Geraldine, Rev W. J. Dean

Grey River Argus, 20 January 1892, Page 4
Christchurch January 19. At the Primitive Methodist Conference the final draft of stations was made as follows : Timaru, Woodward

Taranaki Herald, 16 January 1896, Page 2
Timaru, January 15. - At the Primitive Methodist Conference the following was the final draft of stations :
Timaru, Sharpe
Geraldine, Harris

Evening Post, 20 January 1899, Page 2
Christchurch, 19th January. The Primitive Methodist Conference resumed its sittings to-day. The following is the final draft of stations :
Timaru, Rev. J.W. Hayward
Geraldine, Rev. H. Williams
Waimate and Oamaru, Rev. T. Nixon

Timaru Herald, 19 January 1900, Page 3 THE PRIMITIVE METHODIST CHURCH.
Wellington, January 16. The following is the final draft of stations:
Timaru � Woodward
Christchurch� Ward
Ashburton � Raine
Geraldine� Sharp
Waimate and Oamaru� Burnett
The Rev. Mr Woollass was elected the General Committee's delegate next year to the Conference to be held at Auckland for 1901. The Conference closes on Friday.

Feilding Star, 15 January 1904, Page 2
Wanganui, January 14. The following final draft of stations was read at the Primitive Methodist Conference this morning :
Timaru, G H Mann
Geraldine, G Clement
Waimate and Oamaru, J Sharp

Evening Post, 20 January 1910, Page 3
Timaru, 19th January. At the Primitive Methodist Conference the final draft of stations was drawn up as follows :�
Geraldine, Rev. George H. Mann
Timaru, Rev. John Olphert
Waimate and Oamaru, Rev. John Harris
Temuka, Rev. Thomas Coatsworth.

Evening Post, 13 January 1912, Page 9
Christchurch, 12th January. At the Primitive Methodist Conference the first draft of stations was read as follows; �
Geraldine, George H. Mann
Waimate and Oamaru, James Guy
Timaru, Jacob Featherston
Temuka, John Harris

April 2012 photos.

South CanterburyGenWeb Project Home Page

A Fly In Church

My aunties on each side of me are kneeling in a line;
I wonder if their hassocks are as full of pins as mine?
I think they must have asked the hens to teach them how to perch;
I'd like to rub my knees, but that's called fidgeting in church.

I found a fly in church today - a fly who's hurt his wing;
It happened just as everyone was standing up to sing
"There's a Friend for little children up above the bright blue sky"-
I might have been so good if they had let me keep that fly.

I thought of such a lovely game -I didn't fidget then-
The fly must across my book before I counted ten;
But just as he was nearly there the man said "Let us pray,"
And aunties shock their heads at me, and brushed my fly away.

The pew is very dark and high, and I am very small.
And aunties say it's wrong in church to look about at all.
I think the window's open where the glass is painted red,
For I can feel a scrap of sky that's shining on my head.

Oh, Friend for little children, You were once as small as me,
You know how very, very dull a child in church can be,
And if You're hiding just above that tiny patch of sky,
Be sorry for a little boy- and send another fly!

-Jocelyn C. Lea, in The Spector.
Nambour Chronicle and North Coast Advertiser
12 August 1927 p 3