In 1966 the congregation of Dunedin’s Trinity Methodist Church completed major renovations of the church. Its structure was strengthened and waterproofed, the organ was enlarged and overhauled and neatly installed, and the whole of the interior was renewed from the stonework out. Completely new furniture was commissioned to match the light rimu of the newly panelled walls and the fine sanctuary screen. The total cost was about $58,000 and the result was an attractive worship centre of dignity and beauty.
Less than twelve years later the fine pews were removed, the organ sold for parts, the panelling smashed apart and the whole interior was gutted once more. In fact, several thousand dollars of debt was still outstanding when the mother church of Otago Methodism stood once more an empty shell.
History may judge the Trinity people harshly but they are used to that. The congregation’s first home was badly designed and was wrecked by gales within one month of its opening in 1862. Other property transactions prompted criticism for bad judgment and short-sighted policies. Some people in 1977 claimed to see the same deficiencies of purpose and vision in the actions of that year.
When this book was written in 1981 it was too soon to pronounce with any certainty on the rights and wrongs of the horrendous month of discussion, negotiation and decision. However, during the tumultuous events of December 1977 the author had made careful notes of the events day by day. A couple of months later he wrote up an initial draft of the elements of this story. It offered some intimate observations of one who was unexpectedly thrust into the heart of the situation.
Three years later, after much misunderstanding about what happened, it was published, primarily for the friends who made the incredible decisions. For it was their story. And this re-issue in 2015 may yet inspire other small churches who wrestle with properties that are beginning to dictate their mission instead of serving it.
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About the Author
Retired Presbyter of Methodist Church of New Zealand. Passionate pioneer in Local Shared Ministry, consultant in small churches, publisher of over 100 niche market books, producer of prosumer video, deviser of murder mystery dinners and former private pilot. I trained for the Methodist Ministry at Trinity Theological College and eventually completed MA, Dip Ed as well. Bev and I married just before my first appointment in Ngatea where our two children arrived. We went on to Panmure and Taumarunui. Longer terms followed at Dunedin Central Mission and the Theological College. During this time I was also involved as co-founder and second national President of Family Budgeting Services and adviser to the (government) Minister of Social Welfare. My final four years were part-time, developing the first Presbyterian or Methodist Local Shared Ministry unit in this country and promoting the concept overseas. Retirement has brought a whole lot more opportunities and challenges. We are now living in our own villa in Hibiscus Coast Residential Village.