The interior of St Cuthbert’s church, Eketahuna. PHOTOS/STEVE CARLE
Holding four fundraising dinners each year, St Cuthbert’s parish does a lot for the Eketahuna community, with Eketahuna Health Centre being the latest recipient, says parish treasurer Denise Gavin.
The history of the church was donated to the parish by the family of Joyce and Barry Anderson [deceased] in a 1949 book, A Short History of the Parochial District of Eketahuna by RG Lockart:
“Road or rail brings the visitor to Eketahuna whose Parish Church is Saint Cuthbert’s – a small but lofty wooden building.
“Just so far away from the main thoroughfare to be missed by the speeding traveller, yet central in its situation to serve the scattered homes of the people of country and township alike.
“After the Sunday evening service of June 28, 1896, a general meeting presided by Rev Campbell Yorke, formed a committee to consider the erection of a church. Thomas Williams, a pastoralist, offered a pound for pound subsidy on moneys raised.
“He was the son of the Venerable Henry Williams, Archdeacon of Waimate, Bay of Islands.
“Williams gave as a site a section facing Carter Street, now known as Church Street. The most urgent need was finance; the cost planned was £300 [$600] to provide a building to seat 100 persons.
“By June 1898, the money was in sight. Mr J Drysdale’s tender for timber was accepted. The sum of £2 was spent to clear the section of logs and stumps, one of which sawn close to the ground level is still underneath the building.
“The church was designed by Messrs Clere, Fitzgerald and Richmond of Wellington. The foundation stone was laid by his Lordship Bishop Wallis at 2pm on Thursday, October 20, 1898.
“The opening service was held on February 23, 1899, with a text from Genesis 28 verses 16 and 17, from the dream of Jacob and his saying when he awakened, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place … this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of Heaven’.
“A year later the Service of Consecration of Saint Cuthbert’s — March 20 is Saint Cuthbert’s Day — marked the end of the dream of many patient worshippers. The choice of name was by the Rev John Walker in 1899.
“He was mindful of Eketahuna and its new church, of the claims of the outlying districts with widely scattered homes, of the arduous journeys of many miles on horse or on foot, it would seem as though the inspiration of a Saint Cuthbert, the Missionary Saint of the Northumbrian wilds, was, indeed, needed.
“The vicar graduated from the horse, to the horse and buggy, to the motorbike, and finally to the motorcar.”
Services are held at St Cuthbert’s every Sunday at 10am, with the first two Sundays having a lay preacher.
The third Sunday is in te reo, led by Alan West from Pahiatua, then the fourth Sunday has Jill Woods, vicar from St Peter’s in Pahiatua taking a service.
The fifth Sunday a visiting preacher comes from Palmerston North.
– the Bush Telegraph