Nelson Leader : April 11th 2013
26 THE NELSON LEADER, APRIL 11, 2013 NEWS Church welcomes all for 125 years Five pretty maids all in a row: From left, Sandra Carter, Verena Petzgold, Peggy Gregson, Ann Simpson and Jan King prepare for the country fair. Photo: PHIL BARNES By PHIL BARNES St John's Church in Hira is celebrating its 125th anniversary this weekend with a country fair on Saturday and a harvest festival service on Sunday. Congregation member Jan King said although the event would be a fundraiser for the church it was more about being an open day for the community. We want to get people to come along and have a look inside the church as they may never have done so before,'' Jan said. Saturday's fair will include music and dancing, compe- titions, games, face painting, vintage car rides, stalls and ref- reshments. For Sunday's service, the church will be decorated with gifts of fruit, flowers and every kind of produce. Jan said the church was built and consecrated in 1888 and was designed to provide over- night accommodation for travel- ling clergy. Complete with an open fire- place, a hob, griddle and billy there was enough space for a small bed and a wash stand -- all very necessary when many miles had to be travelled on horseback. The minister used to ride along on his horse to take the service and often stayed in the vestry at the back of the church on Saturday night and then gal- loped away after the service.'' Sometimes the minister would cover an area by horse as the Rai and Whangamoa Valleys, the settlements of the Eastern Telegraph Company at Cable Bay and the Maori pa at Dela- ware Bay developed. For many decades St John's served as the district meeting place. The residents came from far and near, from the Waka- puaka Pa, the valleys and the plain and many differing religions attended. The church was built on land gifted by Hugh Martin. The Rev A B Watson, the first vicar of the parish, pro- vided a lot of the timber and worked alongside the builders. He also gave the beautiful metal wall panels on which are hand- painted The Lord's Prayer, The Ten Commandments and The Creed,'' said Jan. She said the church now had a service nearly every Sunday morning with an average con- gregation of 20 to 25 people. The fair runs from 10am to 3pm on Saturday and service starts at 9am on Sunday. If the weather is wet on Saturday, the fair will be held after the church service this Sunday.
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