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The Timaru Hospital Chapel

Photo taken in January 2008 by Margaret Todd. The Golden Ash was planted by Miss M.L. Lindsay, former matron Timaru Public Hopsital 5th April 1955, to commemorate the opening of the Lindsay Wing.
The Golden Ash tree, now 53 years old, in 2008, with the Hospital Chapel in the background and the entrance to the left.

The Hospital Chapel, Timaru Hospital, Queen Street, located between the Clinical Services Block and the Gardens Block, is open 24 hours for anyone to use was built in 1969.  O. MacDonald was the architect. The chapel has a lovely pair of stained glass windows designed by Kenneth Burton and executed by Roy Miller at his Miller Studios, Dunedin. Both windows are approximately 9ft by 3ft. This chapel is dedicated to the glory of God. it is the gift of past and present Nursing Staff, grateful patients and many other Benefactors. A service of thanksgiving was held on 4 December 2009 to celebrate the 40th anniversary. About 70 persons filled the Chapel including former Chaplains Winston Marshall, Ken Davy, Peter Gardner and Michael Kerr but the majority were nurses and staff from the 1960s and 70s.

Christ welcoming all who labours.

Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.

The Risen Christ and the Nurse.

Go ye forth ever mindful of the sick and the suffering.
Roy Miller window.

This window with the New Zealand Registered Nurses medal was donated by former nurses and nursing staff in 1968 and installed in1969.  Ms. Mildred Marsh was the matron of nursing at the time the windows were proposed and she okayed the detail of the uniforms. At Timaru only the sisters (charge nurses) wore a white veil. A student nurse wore a white nurses cap with either no stripes or one, two, three or four blue stripes according to year of training, a white heavily starch apron with a starched black and white pinstriped or blue uniform that came to about two inches below the knees with short sleeves with black stockings and black shoes. Staff nurses wore a blue uniform (same colour blue as the nurse with the red cape) with short sleeves with a white collar and a cap with stripes. Each nurse was issued a beautiful woollen red cape. The uniforms were washed and starched at the hospital laundry out the back towards the gardens. At Christmas time, on a designated evening, the majority of the nurses, dressed in uniform and cape, carrying a candlestick holder and lighted candle, walked the corridors and stairs singing the traditional Christmas carols led by the hospital Chaplain and "Sisters".

Plaque: Relocated from the main entrance Nurses Old Home before demolition 1920-1997. Timaru Reg. Nurses.

This oak seat is from the old Nurses Home and has been placed in the hospital chapel.
"I remember it so well. Many of us sat there waiting to be picked up on a Saturday night!!"

Photos courtesy of M.T., EN., 25 Jan. 2008.

All the staff had to walk pass the chapel to go on and off duty and to the restaurant that was locate in the old nurses home. When I was a nurse at the hospital, 1976-1982, the chapel was located in between the tunnel leading to the old nurses home and the covered walkway leading over to Jean Todd, the maternity wing, and at the beginning of the main corridor towards the hospital leading near the entrance to Ward Six the psychiatry ward with Sister Hamilton was in charge. Rev. Ken Davy and later Doug Boyd were the hospital chaplain. Only one of the nurses from my class got married in the chapel. Today, 2007, the the nurses homes and Jean Todd have been torn down but the chapel remains in its original location. OB., NZRN, South Canterbury School of Nursing.

The first window was donated by the combined Rotary Clubs of Timaru. The sum of $1000 was raised by an arts and crafts festival for which the clubs had assistance from numerous women's organisations. The Rotary club photo of the presentation of the donation  shows: L to R :- Dr S.C. Hawes ( Superintendent), Jim Morse (Timaru Rotary), Leo Farthing (Timaru Rotary & Chairman Building Committee), Graham Foote( President Timaru Rotary), Rex Stoop (President Rotary South) and Miss D. White (Matron).

New Zealand's first hospital chapel was erected at Christchurch Hospital in 1928 as a memorial to those Nursing sisters who made the supreme sacrifice when the "Marquette" was torpedoed.

June 2008 Chaplain Retires
God gave Reverend Michael Kerr two gifts – a nice smile and a loud voice. He says both have been helpful in his ministry at Timaru Hospital. At the end of June the chaplain is leaving behind what he describes as a “demanding but rewarding” job to enter retirement. Reverend Kerr has been the Timaru Hospital chaplain twice in his 42 years of ministry – once in the 1970s and again over the past four years. Reverend Kerr describes the hospital as “a place of drama, of pain, of death, of new life and renewal.” All these aspects have called on his abilities as chaplain. He says he has appreciated being a trusted member of the hospital team and wants to thank staff “for the way they have received the chaplaincy and encouraged me”. Reverend Kerr will be remembered for a saying he uses frequently: “A hospital without a chaplain is like a circus without a clown.” Timaru Hospital’s new chaplain will be Reverend Ian MacLeod from the Rangiora.

The Reverend Michael Kerr retired fully from pastoral and sacramental ministry at the end of 2012. For 46 years he faithful was ministering in Christ. He went to Auckland to St Johns Theological College and was ordained in November 1966. In 2008 he retired from the chaplaincy service at the Timaru Public Hospital. He retired to Kimbell and was replaced by Reverend Ian MacLeod from the Rangiora Methodist Parish. Rev. Kerr had been the chaplain at Timaru Hospital between 1970 and 1980 as well. Understandably he wishes to enjoy sitting in the pew.

The Timaru Herald 28/09/2010 Summerized
24 Hours in the life of the Hospital Chaplain: Ian McLeod
Healthy Faith: People in the hospital say to me, "which parish do you belong to?" I say, "you're part of my parish", and I explain that this is my only job, the chaplaincy at the hospital and Presbyterian Support, and everyone in those facilities has access to me. It's quite different to parish visiting, because in a parish, you can only visit your parishioners, but here I can visit people from all denominations, and even people with no faith at all. People might want prayer, a Bible reading, comfort, someone to talk to. I'll give communion to those who have requested it. If I know that someone does have a church connection, I'll usually ask them if they would like me to contact their minister. In those three hours, I could see up to 20 people. But we've just been reminded that we're not here for the numbers, we are here to offer support and comfort to people and families. So sometimes I can spend much longer with one person. But people can come into the chapel when they want to. When I speak at orientation for new staff and give them an idea of what the chaplain does, I always say to people that they are welcome to use the chapel. At Christmas, I take part in the carol-singing around the wards here and at Talbot Park.

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