Church to be sold after drop in numbers

ESTHER ASHBY-COVENTRY
Last updated 07:22 19/03/2013

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St Mark's Methodist church in Temuka will be sold, though the date of it going on the market has not yet been determined.

The church was opened in December 1892 and through the years had a Sunday school building located on one side in 1872 which no longer exists, and a hall on the other in 1969 which remains.

The Rev Bob Sidal said a decline in numbers over the past four years meant it was unviable to continue. The congregation has fallen from 50-plus to about 19.

Church member John Rolston said Methodism was popular among Temuka settlers with three Wesleyan churches built in the town by the early 1880s. St Mark's was the first Primitive Methodist church built, a more relaxed offshoot of the Wesleyan tradition.

Half the current St Mark's parishioners will attend Woodlands Methodist Church in Timaru where Mr Sidal also presides and the rest will join the Temuka Presbyterian congregation.

Mr Sidal said pastoral care for the people of Temuka would continue.

Ken Lee has been a member of St Mark's for 60 years and recalls a busy Sunday school for children and bible classes for teenagers decades ago.

"The advent of work and sport on Sundays saw the decline."

He said a 9am service was also a deterrent but, as Mr Sidal had to be back in Timaru to take a 10.30am service, there was no room for flexibility.

The church hall is used by the community for various events and activities and Mr Sidal would like to see that continue for as long as possible. It was up to the national Methodist church body to decide on deadlines for the sale.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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