St John's Presbyterian Church celebrating 150th anniversary

St John's Presbyterian Church and parish at Herbert will celebrate its 150th anniversary at the end of this month, even though regular services are no longer held there.

This Sunday, August 30, in recognition of the anniversary, a special church service will be held at 10.30am, conducted by the Rev Rose Luxford, followed by a lunch.

Session clerk Marion Partridge said last week there was some confusion over dates for the 150th - whether the parish was formed in 1865 or earlier and when the foundation stone was laid for the church, and when the church opened.

An original stained glass window recorded the church being built in 1865, while other historic data said it was 1866.

Despite that, it was decided to go ahead marking a 150th anniversary this year.

The idea for a church in Herbert was first raised in 1862 after early services were held in a woolshed.

By November 1863, the parish had its own ordained minister, the Rev Charles Connor, and, shortly after, Dunedin architect Robert Arthur Lawson provided designs for a new church.

The building was described as ''tasteful, most appropriate to its purpose, and suitable to the means of the congregation''.

The church was soon deemed too small and, in 1875, an extension, designed by Mason and Wales, with 250 additional seats was built.

In 1998, St John's was badly damaged by fire. Roof sarking was damaged as were the arch elements. The damaged elements were replaced and matched where possible. Damaged roofing was also replaced and the church reopened.

-david.bruce@odt.co.nz

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