Kaikorai Presbyterian Church – Early History

The original church and manse in 1868.
[Image (K126) from Kaikorai Presbyterian Church 1868-1918 Jubilee Souvenir Booklet]

Historical Narrative

From pages 22-23 of Kaikorai Presbyterian Church Jubilee Booklet (1868-1918)

The following interesting narrative, written by the Rev. Robert Hood, who resided at Halfway Bush, and who greatly interested himself in the formation of the Congregation, is extracted from the original Session book of the Congregation, and forms a prelude to the first Minutes:-

First Prayer Meetings

In the year 1852 a weekly prayer meeting was commenced in the district of Wakari and Kaikorai (then commonly called the Halfway Bush) by the Rev. Mr. Jeffreys, who resided at the Forbury. These meetings were continued regularly after Mr. Jeffreys left the district, first at “Hood Hall” (old Fern-tree house), the Rev. Robert Hood’s, and thereafter at the Wakari Schoolhouse.

First Sabbath Services

In the year 1863 the Rev. Mr. Urie, having resigned his charge at the West Taieri, was appointed by the Presbytery to preach at the North Taieri in the forenoon and at the Wakari Schoolhouse in the afternoon of every Sabbath, at 3 o’clock. This arrangement was continued by Mr. Urie for three months, when he removed from the district. The services were continued at the School mainly through the active exertions of George Hepburn, Esq., of Wakari, whose unwearied attention to this matter deserves the gratitude of the district.

First Missionary

In April, 1865, the Rev. Mr. Anderson was appointed by the Session of Knox Church, Dunedin, a missionary in connection with that congregation, and he preached every second Sabbath until the Kaikorai Church was opened for service on the 23rd day of December, 1866.

First Steps for a Church Building

In the year 1866, at a meeting of the Wakari School Committee, it was proposed that an effort should be made to erect a Church in the district, and the members of committee were appointed to canvass the residents, so as to ascertain what amount could be raised by subscription towards this object. At a future meeting the committee reported subscriptions in hand amounting to £279, and resolved to proceed with the erection of a church.

The following were appointed to procure plans and specifications and estimates :–The Rev. Robert Hood, Messrs. Colin Allan, David Thomson, James Cunningham, Alexander Fraser, Alexander Miller, senr., and James Marshall, junr. Mr. Geo. Hepburn, through illness, was unable to take part in the movement.

First Gift

Miss Ellen Hood, of Hood Hall, gifted to the district about an acre of land (present site), whereon the Church and Manse were erected.

The Committee employed Mr. Howlison as architect, and he provided a plan and specification. Estimates were obtained from several tradesmen, and that of Robert Dow and Son, for the sum of £427, was accepted. They finished the work to the satisfaction of the Committee. Extras to the value of £12, making a total cost of £439.

The Bell

Mr. Robert Chapman, of Dunottar Township, made a gift of a substantial Bell to the Church, which is still in use, and has been faithfully rung for the past fifty years.

First Pulpit Bible and Hymn Book

Mr. and Mrs. Bell (Glasgow) presented a handsome pulpit Bible and Psalm Book to the Congregation. The Bible is still in use, and in good order.

First Services in Church

In December, 1866, the Church was opened for Divine Service on 23rd December. The Rev. Dr. Burns (First Church) preached in the forenoon, the Rev. Dr. Stuart (of Knox Church) in the afternoon, and the Rev. William Will of East Taieri in the evening. The collections amounted to £27 16s. 10d.

First Deputation to Presbytery

In June, 1868, a deputation of the Congregation waited upon the Presbytery to make application to have the Church declared a preaching station, which was agreed to, the same being put under the care of the Rev. Mr. Stuart, of Knox Church.

Messrs. Robert Hood and James Wilkie, elders of Knox Church, were with Mr, Stuart appointed to form an interim Session.

First Application for Sanctioned Charge

In 1867, at a Congregational meeting held on the 28th day of January, it was resolved unanimously to apply to the Synod to have the district declared a Sanctioned Charge, eligible to call a minister. Messrs. Robert Hood, Colin Allan, David Thomson, and Alexander Miller were delegated to make the application, and were authorised to promise that the district would contribute £200 per annum to the Sustentation Fund.

In January, 1868, the Synod sanctioned the charge, and authorised the Congregation to call a Minister.
The Congregation thereafter gave a unanimous call to the Rev. Mr. Campbell, but on the ground of health he declined to accept, thereupon the choice fell upon the Rev. William Alves.

First Communion

On the 10th of July, 1868, the first Communion was celebrated by the Rev. Michael Watt, then minister of Green Island, when fifty persons partook of the Sacrament.

First Settled Minister

On November 25th, 1868, the Rev. William. Alves, M.A., was inducted into the pastoral office, when the Rev. Wm. Will presided and preached, the Rev. R. Scrimgeour (of St. Andrew’s) addressed the minister, and the Rev. Mr. Stuart the people.

First Elders and Deacons

On February 9th, 1869, the Congregation by sealed lists elected Messrs. Robert Hood, Robert Chapman, Colin Allan, and David Thomson to be the Elders, and Messrs. John Black, Charles Chapman, Andrew Hogg, David Hood, George Millar, and Robert Watson to be Deacons.

First Ordination of Office-bearers

On Sabbath, 28th February, 1869, these men were solemnly set apart in the usual manner for their sacred offices.

[Original article by Alan Gilchrist]

Ross

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