150th Anniversary of First Church
5th & 6th of June 2021
Over Queen's Birthday weekend First Church celebrated in style – marking 150 years since our first church building was opened.
Like many good things our celebrations were in three parts: a dinner was held on Saturday evening with the church family, friends and supporters and introducing our special guests The Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand the Right Rev. Fakaofo Kaio and his wife Ruth. This was a very happy and relaxed occasion over a lovely meal, where the opportunity was taken to thank all those who are always ready to assist with our various church projects in the community. Our local historian Mate Higginson gave a light hearted talk on “How on earth did we make it to 150 years?” thus setting the scene for the rest of the weekend.
On Sunday morning we held a service of celebration in a full church, attended by invited guests from the National Church and the community – His Worship the Mayor of South Wairarapa, our MP Kieran McAnulty, and representatives of other presbyteries and churches in the Wairarapa. The service included a hymn written specially to commemorate this anniversary by our organist Bob Bargh. We were delighted to incorporate into this service a Renewal of Wedding Vows by Leonie and Ian Couper who were married in First Church in June 1967. As the congregation led by the Official party processed out of the church the bell was rung, and a piper played outside. It was a very memorable and uplifting occasion.
After the service, many enjoyed a time of fellowship and meeting of old friends over a light morning tea in our hall where there was an interesting display of photographs and memorabilia.
A lunch in the Martinborough Town Hall was the final part of our celebration weekend. The Official party was piped in to a waiting assembly of almost 100 seated locals and guests. John Harvey, First Church Parish Council member welcomed everyone and the specially invited guests, representing the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand, Presbytery Central and churches in the Wairarapa. Mate Higginson then spoke on “First Church: its story”, and other distinguished guests were invited to speak. Following a delightful lunch two anniversary cakes were piped into the hall, cut by the two oldest First church members and distributed with wine. A toast was raised to First Church – to its past, the present and to the future. This event concluded with all singing Auld Lang Syne.
The weekend was a wonderful time of renewing friendships, recalling past connections and also looking forward with the hope of continuing to play our part in this community. We thank everyone who celebrated with us. The events of this weekend were only the start of a year in which we will continue to share our history with the wider community, and take stock of what has gone before and what is in the future. We hope to arrange opportunities for all interested to enjoy and reminisce with photographs and a video of this special time. Later in the year we are looking forward to the launch of Mate’s latest book on the history of First Church.