Author traces church's history from early days

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 05:00 14/03/2013
len home
MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE/ Fairfax NZ

FINISHED ITEM: Author Len Home with his newly published book, Presbyterianism in South Canterbury.

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The author of a new history of the Presbyterian Church in South Canterbury says the church faces some of its toughest challenges over the next few years.

Len Home has spent the last two years researching and writing Presbyterianism in South Canterbury.

"I've been involved with the church for many years, and the South Canterbury moderator, Ian Hyslop, suggested that I should write its history," he said.

"The Presbyterian church is nearing its 150th anniversary, but it's in a real state of flux right now. They're in the middle of rationalising its congregation and buildings, in the wake of declining attendances and changes to earthquake-prone building rules."

Mr Home said there were 13 Presbyterian parishes in South Canterbury at its height in the 1960s - there are now only nine.

South Canterbury's first Presbyterian minister, the Reverend George Barclay, received £300, a horse, and a saddle to assist him with establishing churches as far-flung as Aoraki-Mt Cook.

"This was in the early 1860s. The region's first official Presbyterian church was established in Barnard St in Timaru in 1867, and later became known as Trinity Church," Mr Home said.

"Many of the early run-holders employed Scottish shepherds, who wanted their own place of worship. The Anglicans thought that they had got to Canterbury first, but there was already a strong Presbyterian contingent."

Mr Home said he enjoyed the research: "The later years were a bit trickier. I was closer to the events and had to be a bit more circumspect," he said.

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- The Timaru Herald

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