The beautiful Presbyterian Church of St Paul [the apostle], Seddon St., Timaru.

Photo taken by Margaret Todd, early in the morning on 5 Oct. 2009. 
Decommissioned in January 2014 and demolished in July 2014.

St Paul, Presbyterian Church, 28 Seddon Street, Timaru, and a bell tower was built in 1926. It is a striking red brick church with three stained glass windows designed and executed by Mr John W. Brock, an Englishmen, who trained with the London based James Powell and Sons and emigrated to settle in Dunedin in 1914. He designed at least thirty-two stained glass windows for many denominations for Canterbury churches at his studio in Dunedin for over fifty years. He designed windows for the Woodlands Road Methodist Church and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Timaru and another at the Chalmers Presbyterian Church. website

St Paul’s Parish was formed as an outstation of Chalmers and became a separate parish in 1917. Up until 1928 services were held in the original wooden building on the same section. Rev. Adam C. BEGG, M.A. was born 4 March 1868 and ordained at Tapanui in 1894 and came to Highfield, (now St Paul's) Timaru 21 February 1918 and retired from their 30 June 1932. He died 17 January 1947. The church was built under his leadership. He was the minister when the foundation stone was laid. His wife was Margaret. After 1928 the old church served as the Parish Hall until The Parish house was built in 1964 and the old church demolished. Sunday School, Bible Class, Girls’ and Boys’ Brigade as well as adult activities where in the parish hall.

1961 saw the establishment of the Country Area Committee to develop Washdyke and Gleniti areas into what became St Stephens Parish. Services were held in the Washdyke Hall and the old Glen-iti school. Services were also at Rosewill and Claremont. These closed and the services were held at Glen-iti. Until 1965 the Parish had only four ministers, Begg, Baird, Borrie and Kenward after which there was a time of upheaval with three short ministries, Eggleton, Quigley and Dickson.

1967 was a tumultuous year with many lengthy Session Meetings often till 11pm although no fresh business was introduced after 9.30pm. The issue of Women Elders and lay members reading bible lessons during services saw a very divided session, mostly on the negative side. After many months, approval was given the Session Clerk to read the Bible lessons.

The Parish 50th Jubilee in 1967 saw the renovation of the interior, the removal of the High Pulpit, the shifting the Choir out of the Apse and new carpet all causing some members to show their disapproval. About 200 attended the Jubilee Dinner in the Bay Hall with the local MP and Mayor sitting at the top table. A marquee next to the church, was very full for Sunday service. At this time St Paul’s membership was at its peak with approximately 730 communicant members and many adherents. There were three services a Sunday and four once a month. History of the church.

22nd February 2001 at St Paul’s Highfield, the induction took place of the parish’s first and only woman minister the Rev. Chris Elliot.

March 2009 four Presbyterian churches at a summit committed to becoming a single parish with four congregations - Trinity, St Stephen’s, Chalmers and St Paul’s churches ninety years after it was first purposed it.

Nov. 2011: St Paul's Presbyterian Church in Timaru was closed after damage to a wall due to the earthquake.

Jan. 19 2014: The church was decommissioned. The service of Thanksgiving and Decommissioning was led by the Rev. Rory Grant with parish preacher and the Rev. Dr. Susan Jones. Rev. Grant said "the building is not the church, the church is the people" at the ceremony held on the back lawn. After the service sacramental symbols of worship were carried from the church to the neighbouring church hall. These included the brass Bible stand and the pulpit Bible, the communion table fall (cloth), the baptismal font bowl, music books and the cross. Afternoon tea followed in the Parish Hall with parishoners bringing a plate. The parish put the church and grounds on the market in August 2013 after a merger in 2009, when four Presbyterian churches became a single parish with four congregations. Sold for sections -14. The St. Paul's Church Hall was a busy facility in 2012 with sixteen groups using the rooms including dancers, florists, knitters and a Parkinsons groups. Pews & cushions, pianos, various tables, heaters, chairs & forms, bookshelves, dinner wagons, cabinet, mirrors, ride-on-mower, DVD player & TV, kitchenware were sold. The central office was moved to St Stephens, 349 Wai-iti Road. Demolished The rimu T & G floor, slate tiles from the roof, and rimu and cedar doors were salvaged buy the buyer. The stained-glass windows had also been saved and retained by the church.

Papers Past
Grey River Argus
8 August 1919, Page 3 CHURCH UNION.
AN ADVERSE VOTE TIMARU, August 7. The Timaru Presbytery considered the question of the Union of Churches. Revs. Toker (Geraldine) in the absence of Rev. Stanson - (Trinity) moved and Rev. Ussher (St Andrews) seconded a motion in favour of union, provided that a satisfactory basis of union is agreed to. Revs Harries (Chalmers) and Begg (Highfield), moved an amendment that while the union would be scriptural and desirable, on practical grounds, the denominational system, which has not been without its uses, could not be suddenly brought to an __d without grave risk of increasing the evils of dissent and division whose removal was chiefly aimed at, and that the Presbytery would favour a federation of the Churches, but the mind of the Church was too divided, and the Presbytery felt that there was at present not behind the movement the spiritual impulse which could warrant a change so great and irrevocable. After discussion the amendment was carried by seven to four, the voting being : — For: three-Ministers and two elders; against: four Ministers and three elders.

1908: Mr Edgar Randal (late organist of St. Paul's, Wanganui, and now organist at St. Paul's, Timaru), is a young and talented organist, having gained honors in the senior examinations conducted by Trinity College, London. Pedalling is a feature of his playing, and in this department he was specially complimented when undergoing his examination.

1967: A Positive Organ Co.,  pipe organ removed from Dunedin 1925-26 Dunedin Exhibition, was removed from St. Paul's to a Levin residence.

Photo taken by Margaret Todd, early in the morning on 5 Oct. 2009.
"Jesus said 'let the children come to me." Designed and executed by John Brock, Dunedin, c. 1954. Commerorating the young people of the parish. Signed left lower base W.A. Raffills & Sons, Dunedin.

Photo taken by Margaret Todd, early in the morning on 5 Oct. 2009.
Faith and Fortitude. Designed and executed by John W. Brock, Dunedin c. 1950.
To the memory of those who gave their lives in the Wars 1914- 1918 and 1939 - 1945

Photo taken by Margaret Todd, early in the morning on 5 Oct. 2009.
Christ and the Women of Samaria at the wall / The Good Shepherd. In memory of the Very Rev. Adam Begg, M.A. First minister 1918 -1933 & Mrs Begg. [Margaret J. Begg died in 6th Oct.1945 and is buried in the Timaru Cemetery with her husband Rev. A. Begg died  17th Jan.1947.] This beautiful 1954 John Brock window, the Good Shepherd, similar to a 1952 window at St. Andrew's in Geraldine. (opens in a new window)  Designed and executed by John W. Brock, Dunedin c. 1954.  John Brock (1889-1973) was b. in Surrey, ENG. he took an apprentice at James Powell at age 15 and worked there until 1912 then went to Melbourne. By 1913 he was in Dunedin.

Photo taken by Margaret Todd, early in the morning on 5 Oct. 2009.
This stone was laid to the glory of God by
G.T. Dawson, Esq.
Dec. 11, 1926.
Rev. A. Begg, M.A.
Minister 

 Jan. 2014. St Paul's Time Capsule: While attempting to remove the St Paul's Foundation Stone, Ken Linscott discovered a time capsule embedded in the stone. It is a quart AGEE preserving jar enclosed in wax. A newspaper page can be seen through the wax. Turned out to be the Outlook, a weekly newspaper for Christians published a few days before the foundation stone was laid, as well as photos of the event and a copy of the order of the service. A slate covering the cavity was inscribed with names, probably of those who worked on the building. A video of the discovery. photo Rimu tongue and groove flooring timber, rimu floor joists, interior and exterior doors and 15,000 slate roof tile (to be removed by the buyer), copper spouting and downpipes, entire ceiling and trusses and beams, leadlight windows and capert have been salvaged by the buyer and placed on Trade-me in April 2014 and did not sell. The bell in the bell tower will also be sold. The stained glass windows will be removed and kept by the Timaru Presbyterian Parish.

G.T. Dawson. Dec. 11 1926.

St Paul’s Service of Thanksgiving and Decommissioning January 19th 2014
The people of St Paul’s are not the first to lose a worship place. Already I have seen many ways in which the people who worshipped here in this place, in St Paul’s, have benefitted the new parish. They have brought their wisdom, their music and creativity, their care for children and young people. They’ve brought their desire to be a contemporary church, their yearning for the community and their zeal for mission. They’ve modelled for the rest of the parish how to grow and develop through difficult times, how to move on, giving significance to their grief, but not allowing it to bury their sense of hope for the future. And now they have brought to the parish too a liquid asset which can be used in flexible ways to benefit the new thing God calls us all to be part of. In this they have again shown others the way which some of them will need to follow too. Becoming a combined parish was never going to be easy and I know it seems to some of you as if we have entered a long dark cold winter. Above all the groups who joined to form this parish, St Paul’s people have been called to follow a particularly lonely path. Thanks be to God for the love which has shone out in this place, thanks be to God for the sacrifices which have been made in this place, thanks be to God for the spirit of willingness which was known in this place. God was in this place and we knew it. God will be in the new place - we know that too. AMEN
Susan Jones Timaru Presbyterian Parish

Timaru Herald, 14 February 1918, Page 3
PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH HIGHFIELD.
THE NEW MINISTER. At a meeting of the Southland Presbytery the following motion of appreciation was passed:—"The Rev. Adam Begg, M.A., having accepted a call to the congregation of Highfield, Timaru, the Presbytery desires to express its cordial appreciation of Mr Begg's Christian character and work. For six years Mr Begg has occupied the charge of Wallacetown, and has carried on efficiently the full tale of ministerial work in a well-organised congregation. Testimony has been borne from time to time as to the high standard of Mr Begg's pulpit ministrations, his constant labours among the young in the Bible classes and in the Sunday Schools, maintained in different sections of the parish, while the interest in missions has been promoted by an active branch of the P.W.M.U. Mr Begs always kept in sympathetic touch with his people by his labours as pastor, visiting his congregation, and especially the sick, the aged, and the infirm. The relations, between pastor, office-bearers, and people were in every way cordial and hearty.

Timaru Herald, 25 November 1916, Page 6 HIGHFIELD PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
A highly successful sale of work was held in the Highfield Church on Thursday afternoon, in aid of the Organ fund. Proceedings commenced with the National Anthem, after which the Rev. Mr Cooper said the sale of work was to clear off the debt on the organ. He also thanked Mr James Craigie, M.P. for consenting to declare the sale of work open. Mr Craigie expressed his great pleasure at being invited. He remembered the Highfield district in 1867, when it was a wilderness of tussocks, and the only house between Stafford Street and Otipua Road was that of "Parson"' Foster. It was no longer a wilderness, but a thriving residential quarter of the town. He congratulated them on their fine church and hoped the district would continue to prosper and the church become too small for it. He had pleasure in declaring the sale open. The following conducted the various stalls
Flower and Pot Plant Stall Messrs T. Baker, J.W. Thompson, Walters and G. Dawson.
Produce Stall — Mesdames G. Tenant and J. Ell's.
Refreshment Stall — Mesdsames - A. Irvine, J.W. Thompson, G. Robertson, G. Dawson, H. Marshall, J. McLeod, L Waddell, Misses Hide and McPhedran.
Christmas Tree, Toy Bazaar and Bran Tub - Misses R. Waddell and H. Knowles.
Art Stall — Misses M. Waddell, E. Thompson and B. Elliott
Work-Stall — Mesdames Waddell, Fletcher, Donnelly and Cooner.
Sweets, Ice Cream and Drink Stall — Mesdames T. Baker and L. Cornwall, Misses R Waddell and W. O'Connor retailed flowers about the church.

Timaru Herald, 25 August 1919, Page 11
At the annual meeting of the congregation of the Highfield Presbyterian Church last Wednesday evening there was a fair attendance. The minister, Rev. A. Begg, presided. communicant membership of the congregation had increased from 95 to 99. There had been fourteen baptisms, three marriages and five funerals. The present deacons are:—Messrs W. Barney, F. H. Dephoff, H. Hay, T. Hutcheon J. Sutherland (Highfield), G. Selbie (Claremont), R. Arras, A.G. Hart (Rosewill), and R. R. Browne (Washdyke.).

Timaru Herald, 26 September 1919, Page 6 Marriage
COCKROFT—WADDELL. On September 3rd, at Highfield Presbyterian Church, Timaru, by the Rev. W. W. Brown, of East Taieri, assisted by Rev. A. Begg, Eric Arthur, third son of Mr and Mrs Arthur Cockroft, Georgetown, Invercargill, to Marion Noble, eldest daughter of Mr and Mrs John Waddell, Sealy Street, Timaru.

Timaru Herald, 20 August 1913, Page 9
The re-opening services in connection with the Highfield Presbyterian Church were conducted on Sunday, August 17, at 3 p.m. by Rev. A. M. Caldwell, and at 6.30 p.m. by Rev. George King (Moderator of Timaru Presbytery). The day was beautifully fine and largo congregations greeted the preachers. The building was crowded in the afternoon when the Rev. A. M. Caldwell took for his text —1. Timothy i, 15, gave a stirring address, and was listened to with rapt attention. His address was much appreciated by the large congregation. The Rev. George King also had a splendid congregation at the evening service, when he took for his text —Ezekiel xlvii, 9. Mr King's address was rich in thought and his illustrations concerning the Christian Church were much enjoyed. ...The building was freely commented on during the function and found admirers on every hand. The alterations were designed by Mr Harold Broadhead (architect), and the whole now presents an attractive appearance. The windows are of Gothic design, and give the building more of a church appearance than formerly. The structure is surmounted by a graceful tower, in which the bell is hung. The fittings and general arrangements of the interior are in good taste and well contrived. A commodious vestry for the choir and Sunday School work is provided, and the building is constructed to .seat with ease 250 persons. The entire cost of the enlargements has reached the sum of £330. Towards this the congregations, together with friends hi the district and the Chalmers congregation have provided £200. The contractor for the building was Mr John Broadhead, who has carried out his work in a manner that is deserving of great praise. The painting was in the capable hands of J. and R. Home, who have done their work in a most efficient manner. The plumbing has been carried out by Messrs Hunt and Currie, and in every department the work has reflected credit upon the workmen. Much spiritual good of a permanent character is anticipated from this church building movement. Everyone is full of hope, expectation, and brightness. As a community the people of Highfield have shown a fervent and reverent, love for the house of God, and now, under brighter conditions, a larger attendance at public worship may be confidently expected.

This window commemorating the faithful service of the women of this congregation was dedicated by Mrs Alison Linscott moderator- elect of the Presbytery of South Canterbury, Easter 1995.


The Presbyterian Archive's Photographic Collection
Knox College, Arden Street, Dunedin

1917

St.Paul Church, Timaru First Girls Bible Class. Studio Portrait Of The First (Girl's) Bible Class at St. Paul, Highfield, Timaru; Incl. (Left To Right):
-Back Row: _ ; Beckett; Sutherland; Waddell; Flanagan.
-2nd Row : Hume; Scott; Dawson; O'Conner; Knowles; Youdale.
-Front Row : Sutherland; Donnelly.
Photo: 'Havelock/Williams', Timaru
 

1928

Studio Portrait Of The St. Paul's, Highfield (Timaru), Ministers & Office-Bearers ;
- Including (Left To Right) :
-Back Row: T.E. Chapman; E.A. Maxwell; C. Nixon; R. Hart; R. Cunningham; GE Paterson.
-3rd Row: CS Gordon; B. Arras; J. Freeman; E. Winnington; RS Nicol; WS Curr; A. Heron; A. McKirdy.
-2nd Row: S. Browne; D. McIlroy; J. Robertson; W. Davie; GL Murray; W. Honeywell; P. Nicol.
-Front Row: W. Renton; J. Smith; G.T. Dawson; Rev. Adam C. Begg; J. McLeod; S. Cunningham; J. Dunn.

May 1928 Studio Portrait Of Members Of Timaru Presbytery ; Including (Left To Right) :
-Back Row: Arthur Ward; R. Taylor; Rev. FR Charman; Mr JC Hay; Mr S. Browne; ER Kingsbury.
-2nd Row: Rev. Alexander McNeur; W. Brown; Rev. A. Alexander; AG Crossman; W. Reid; T. Archibald; AR Botting; WH Walton.
-Front Row: J. Henderson; Rev. William McNeur; Rev. T. Stinson; Rev. CG Wilcox (Moderator); Rev. AC Begg (Clerk); Rev. WF Nichol; Rev. HR Fell.


Cruickshank, May (ed) The Story of St. Paul's Highfield, Timaru (1967), 32 pages

South Canterbury NZGenWeb Project

People are like stained glass windows: they sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light within. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross