WESLEYAN DISTRICT MEETING.
Tuesday, November 25.
The annual meeting of the Canterbury district opened its session in the Durham street church, Christchurch, on Tuesday last.
The following Ministers were present:— Revs. A. Reid (chairman), J. Aldred (Christchurch). W. Worker (Leeston), W. Gunnell (Rangiora), J. A. Taylor (Springston), J. B. Richardson (St. Albans, Christchurch), J. S, Smalley (Colombo road, Christchurch), W. H. Beck (Lyttelton), W. Koall (Ashburton), W. S. Harper (Temuka), J, Armitage (Kaiapoi), W. Baumber (Christchurch), T. Fee (Waimate), Te Kote (Native Minister, Raupaki).
The Rev. W. L. Salter, of the Wellington district, was invited by the chairman to a seat in the meeting. The session was opened by singing and praj er. The Rev. J. Aldrod was unanimously elected secretary. The Rev. J. B. Richardson was appointed to prepare statistics.
Four candidates for the ministry were presented for examination, viz i—Messjv. T, F. Jones and J. Alison, from the Ashburton circuit; Qt. Hall, Rangiora circuit; and fQ. Bykee, Obrlshohurch (Colombo road) circuit. After arrangements had been made for the preaching of their trial sermons, they underwent an oral examination, conducted by the chairman, as to their conversion, religious life, and cull to the work of the ministry, ministers flf«e appointed to hear then; trial eermgHfi and report thmwm black cmulipiplmimedm $ writtmj aemuii; tbs d| jijnj (j; 8 .
ti'ict roll being called, it was reported that the Rev. Henry Ellis, of the Rangiora circuit, had died during the year. Testimony was borne by the be vs. Messrs. Aldred, Cannell, Armitage, and the chairman, to the sterling Chris, iau character of the deceased, and to ius conscientious devotion to his ministerial work. A letter of condolence with Mrs. Ellis was ordered to be sent, and instructions given to prepare an obituary notice for Conference.
The names of the ministers were read over, and the usual questions proposed, which in each case were answered satisfactorily.
Winter the question station do we propose to occupy !” attention was called to Rakaia and Cnertrey, in the south of the district, and to Arnberley in the north. Both the places had occupied the attention of previous district meetings, but with the exception of sending a home missionary to Rakaia for the past six months,-it had not been possible to furnish them with a stated ministerial supply. Referring to the Rakaia, the chairman read a report from the home missionary there, .which showed that while chnrch operations had been retarded somewhat by the-prevailing financial depression good had yet been done. Rev. W. Keall, of the Ashburton circuit, undet whose supervision the home missionary had been, employed, believed that though the financial prospects were at present not of the most encouraging character, yet the Conference ought to bo asked to continue a home missionary iu the Rakaia district. The Rev. J. B. Richardson and others expressed themselves iu favor of the recommendation, which was carried.
It was also unanimously resolved to ask Conference to appoint a home missionary to Amberiey.
The book committee was re-appointed, with the addition of the superintendent minister of the Leeston circuit. The church building committee was re-ap-pointed. Permission was given to the Rev. Messrs. Worker, Cannell, Taylor, Keall, Smalley, and Armitage to attend the Conference, to meet in Dunedin in January, 1880.
An interesting conversation then look place on the Three Kings Training Institution at Auckland, and ultimately the Revs. Messrs. Richardson and Beck were appointed to bring up a resolution on Tuesday morning approving of the work done by the Three Kings institution, and commending the claims upon the Church. The next district meeting was appointed to sit in Christchurch on the fourth Wednesday in November, 1880. The report of the Maori mission was ordered to be presented by the Rev. Te Kote on Tuesdaj’, and the meeting then adjourned. Wednesday, November 26. The meeting was opened with the usual devotional services at 10 a.m. The Rev. J. H. Simmonds, Timaru, took his seat. The Secretary read the record for the previous day. Preliminary to the financial meeting, to be held on Thursday, the charges likely to be made upon the connexional funds were estimated.
The Rev. Te Kote, of Raupaki (interpreted by the chairman),. then gave an account of his work among the Natives of Canterbury for the year. He deplored the fact that although the Maoris had the Gospel preached to them a number of years, they did not seem to him to have laid hold of it as they should have done. He was sorry to say that while his people in former years were numerous, now they are few. It was difficult to give a reason for their declining numbers ; perhaps it was due to their own folly. In 1863 this island had many people in it. Then, as he went from village to village, the people under his spiritual charge numbered about 1000. This year the following were the numbers : —Raupaki, 89 ; Taumutu, 28; Little River, 78; Akaroa, 47 ; Temuka, 74. The deaths during the year had been 55, births 16. Altogether, he had now 355 persons under his charge, consisting of 129 men, 89 women, and 137 children. He had ten communicants being two at Akaroa, and eight at Raupaki. He had paid visits to the abovenamed places during the year. The Rev. W. S. Harper (of Temuka) — Did he understand that the Rev. Te Kote had visited Temuka ?
The Rev. Te Kote —Yes ; three times. The Rev \V. S. Harper did not remember to have seen him there. The Rev. Te Kote—When the hawk goes a-hunting, it does not see a mouse. (Loud laughter). I will call and see Mr. Harper next time I am at Temuka.
The Rev. Te Kote resumed his report— At the other places besides Raupaki and Akaroa, no desire was expressed for the administration of the Lord’s Supper. There were four churches, three of them in good condition, one dilapidated. Sunday schools were held in all the churches. The number of Sunday school teachers was seven. The contributions of his people had amounted to £l4 13s. 9d., and in addition this bo had received £SO from the Home Mission Fund. The devotional aspect of the people was, on the whole, satisfactory ; but be would like to see more evidence among them of the fear and love of God.
The Rev. W. H. Beck brought up the motion on the training of candidates for the ministry, which he had been instructed to prepare. He moved—“ That in view of the accession of ministers now on their way from Home to join the New Zealand ministry, this meeting urges upon the Conference the importance of taking advantage of this fact to place as many young men as possible in the Three Kings Institution, to be trained for the ministry ; and further, that the Conference shall insist upon the enforcement of the law which requires that no student shall be withdrawn for circuit work until he has been at least two years in the Institution.”
The Rev. J. B. Richardson seconded the motion, which was carried after an animated discussion on the subject. The written sermons of the candidates were read,
The obituary notice of the Rev Henry Ellis was read by the Rev. W, Camiell, tijul ordered to bo sent on to Conference. The meeting adjourned nt fi p,m.
The Morning session apehed at 10 Tlie usual duvutfanal services ttevqil. ' ' iJoitjmi to the ihNsters fa tb« «•?«« jin*
vious days, the following laymen were present :—Christchurch (Durham strei t), Messrs. C. W, Turner, and W. Harris Christchurch (Colombo road), Mr. Shierlaw. Christchurch (St. Albans), Mr. W. T. Smith. Lyttelton Mr. J. W. Smith. Springston Mr. J. W. Peryman. Rangiora, Messrs. J. Thompson and Little. Temuka, Mr. Buxton. Ashburton, Mr. H. M. Jones. Waimate,Mr. G. Manchester. The Chairman reported that the Rangiora circuit was due to take a second married minister. Mr. Thompson presented the following, resolution, passed at the Rangiora quarterly meeting—“ That as this meeting sees no possibility of supporting a second m '.rried minister in this circuit, owing to financial depression, it urges the Conference to relieve ns of the responsibility to do so at present. ”
After some discussion, the request Was declined. e
It was reported that a gallery had been erected in the Colombo road (Christchurch) church, at a cost of £560, of which £360 had been raised. The remaining £2OO was expected to be raised during the forthcoming year. A section of land for the erection of a church had been acquired in Lincoln 10 id. An organ had been erected in the Kaiapoi church, coating £2OO, for which part payment had been made, and the whole to be raised within two years. A lengthy discussion took place respecting the present depressed financial condition of the Ashburton church properties. The Rev, W. Keall made a statement, and asked for an expression of j opinion as to what was best to be done under the circumstances. The '' was a very grave one, and he had serious . doubts as to their ability to retain the property much longer unless something was devised.
Mr. Turner hoped they would not yield to a feeling of panic in this case, as had been the case in other instances in in times of prevalent commercial depression. He believed that after next harvest Ashburton and the surrounding districts would be in a prosperous condition, and if arrangements could be made in the meantime, he had no doubt that the difficulties would be removed.
Mr. J. W. Smith thought that the circuits in the district should be appealed to for assistance by flections and contributions, and he had no doubt that a ready response would be made to auch an appeal. Expressions of sympathy with the Ashburton Minister and people were made by several of the ministers and laymen, and it was ultimately resolved to leave further discussion till the subject of home missions came before the meeting. On a ballot being taken the Rev. J. B. Richardson was elected as district representative to Conference.
The Rev. J. B. Richardson was sensible of the honor done him, but felt it incumbent upon him to ask the meeting to relieve him from the position in which they hod placed him. meeting acceded to Mr. Richardson’s request, and elected the Rev. W. Cannell, who stood next On the list.
The afternoon session began at two o’clock, and, after singing and prayer, the accounts of the respective Connexional funds were read.
A discussion arose as to the basis of assessment for the children’s fund, which is at present that of the number of members in each circuit.
The Rev. W. H. Beck moved— “ That it be a recommendation to the General Conference that the children’s fund and the education fund be amalgamated under some new name, and that the General Conference be requested to state what amounts towards the fund shall be raised by each Conference, leaving the latter to determine the mode of assessment.”
Mrr Thompson seconded the motion, and it was carried.
The Rev. J. B. Richardson read the following returns :—There are in the district 46 churches, 19 preaching places, 15 ministers and probationers, 2 catechists, Sunday school teachers, 419; local preachers, 68 ; class leaders, 52; full and accredited church members, 1026: on trial fur membership, 41 ; communicants 41 ; catechumens, 160; deaths, 8 ; Sunday schools, 46; Sunday school scholars, 3953; attendants on public worship, 1,310. The increase of members is 41, of communicants 7, of Sunday school scholars, 335, of adherents 441. Two home missionaries have been employed in the district.
The returns gave rise to a lengthy and unusually interesting discussion on the class meeting. The Rev. J. H. Simmonds asked for information as to the principles upon which the return of members were made. He had deviated from the usual method in making the returns fo the Timaru circuit, and reported only those who actually met in class.
The Chairman replied that the superintendent minister must return such members only as mot in class.
Rev. J. H. Simmonds expressed his willingness to correct; his returns, i Mr Buxton regretted the evident indieposition there was growing up in the colony to meet in class, and moie so because many, like himself, would never have been identified with the Methodist Church if they had not regarded the class meeting as its distinctive feature and privilege. Rev. W. Worker thought it should be made known by the ministers in their circuits that to be a member of the Methodist Church every person must actually meet in class. He also believed that too much discussion on the class meeting a* a •• test of membership in the “ New Zealand Wesleyan ” and elsewhere had donelnjury to the class meeting. The Rev. J. H. Simmonds thought It should not be allowed to go forth from this meeting that an intelligent discussion of all questions belonging to their Oh'irch, and especially so important a subject as that of class meeting, was not be allowed; on the contrary, snob dlwussion, as he conceived, ought by all means to be encouraged, and was never more* necessary than now.
The Rev. J. 8, Smalley regretted th«fthe statistics did not represent a mnrw gratifying state of progress, Especial!* (ffcl he regret the Insufficient supply of cla<# leaders, It was to be deplored that wmV ter* should in some instances be celled upon to act as class leaders, and fa m* instance he found that the ctrenft mfafftfr did all the class meetings. He ftmd, «t«o. that there was not gtj g«n«rft Iff
The Chairman believed that what was desiderated was not any interference with their Omirc'v law respecting the class meeting, but an improveinene in the method of conducting it. Ho adduced an instance in which a largo and well-attended class was conducted in so varied and interesting a manner as secured a growing interest in its meetings from week to week. Seeing that other Churches wore now looking with favor the class meeting, it. ill became them for one moment to entertain any ideas likely to loosen the hold it had hitherto had upon the members of the Methodist Church.
After further conversation, joined in by several ministers and laymen,
The Rev. J. B. Richardson moved—- “ That as the Rev. J. H. Simmonds had made his circuit. members’ returns as fifteen ‘ meeting in class,’ instead of according to the schedule heading of ‘ full and accredited church members that at his own request the returns be referred to him for rectification.” The Rev. W. H. Beck seconded the motion.
After some discussion, in which it was stated that the General Conference had declined to rule on the subject of superintendents making their inember-ship returns, the motion was lost. The session adjourned at 5 p.m. EVENING SESSION. The evening session commenced at 7.30. Mr. Turner informed the meeting that the balance-sheet of the book concern was in course of preparation, and would be presented to Conference. He might, however, state that the concern was paying ; the assets were more than the liabilities. He had a proposition to lay before the meeting, w hich had reference to the formation of a limited liability company, with a capital say of £2OOO, and believed there ‘would he no difficulty in floating it. He would move—“ That the book committee he requested to consider what, steps can ho taken to improve and consolidate the business of the book concern, to report to conference.” Mr. Manchester seconded the motion. The Rev. Messrss Richardson, Smalley, Keall,.and Canned, and Messrs. J. W, Smith, Harris, Persian, and W. S. Smith supported the motion. The Chairman, hoped that if the proposed alteration m their book concern were* inade it would not be regarded merely as a local establishment, but as a colonial one, and accordingly have given to it the support of the whole colony so far as possible. The motion was carried unanimously. The Home Mission accounts were gone through, and it was reported that £727 Bs. Bd. had been raised in the district for the Home Mission funds. Considering the very serious commercial depression of the last twelve months, it was deemed gratifying that the district had been able to raise the above sum. Votes were recommended from this fund for the next, year as follows :—Temuka, L 65 ; Ashburton, LIOO ; Amberly, L6O ; Rakaia, LSO. A communication from the committee appointed by last Conference to consider the propriety of forming a connexional loan fund branch of the home mission and church extension fund, was read, recommending that at present the proposal be not carried out, but that its inauguration take place at the Conference of 1881. It was farther recommended that next Conference appoint some person to collect information as to the amount of present debts,'rate of interest, and other information deemed necessary, to report to the Conference of 1881. The meeting ap2iroved the committee’s recomendations. The meeting adjourned at 11.45 p.m.
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