St Michael's church at Waimea West turns 150
More than 130 people filled St Michael's church at Waimea West last Sunday to celebrate its 150th anniversary.
Rev Martin Harrison, the vicar of the Parish of Waimea, said many people would know the lovely white wooden church surrounded by funny shaped trees.
St Michael's had been a local landmark since the first timber building opened in 1843. It was the first Anglican church in the Nelson settlement and one of the earliest in the South Island, he said.
When the original church needed substantial repairs, a new one was planned. On November 24, 1866, a special dedication ceremony was held and the foundation stone of the current St Michael's church was laid.
To mark this 150th anniversary, the two congregations of St Michael's and St Paul's in Brightwater joined together to celebrate at the church on Sunday.
With the Bishop of Nelson, the Right Reverend Richard Ellena, in attendance, the church was filled to capacity.
"Many were descendants of the people and families who were significant in establishing the church in its early days – the Blundells, Kerrs, Mules, Fords and of the contractor who built the church, W. Hastilow," Rev Harrison said.
Former members of the congregation and families who had served on the vestry such as the Prices and Kempthornes also attended. The congregation also included many couples who had been married at St Michael's.
The service opened with the hymn Thou Whose Almighty Word, played by organist Jo Patterson, which was used in the original dedication of the church in 1866. Bishop Ellena's sermon took the theme of structures built in the Old Testament, while emphasising that a church wasn't the building but the people.
After the service, the Bishop planted a memorial tree with one of the youngest members in the congregation.
The Waimea Quilters group gifted two quilts made for the anniversary and the Wakefield Art group gave paintings its members had created of the church. The paintings were later auctioned during a celebratory lunch.
"Many memories were shared and friendships renewed during this special day for this well-loved church," Rev Harrison said.