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A meeting of the parishioners was held yesterday evening, in the Library Hall, to consider a proposal for altering the present boundaries of the parish. The incumbent, the Rev. A. W. Hands, was in the chair, and between twenty and thirty parishioners were also present. After the Chairman had opened the proceedings with prayer, Mr Jameson, churchwarden, read the following statement : In order to lay the matter clearly before parishioners, the churchwardens have prepared a statement showing the present position of the paiish, its boundaries, a list of places where services are regularly held, and the number of services held by the incumbent; also, what is the unanimous wish of the vestry as regards the proposed division. The position of the parish financially will be fully explained to yon by my colleague, Mr Gnndry. The parish of Ashburton and the parochial districts of Longbeach and Mount Somers is in extent thirtysix miles square, and extends from the Chcrtsey road to the river Rangitata, and from the ranges to the sea beach. In this large district there are fourteen places where services are held at regular intervals by the incumbem. At five of these places the incumbmt holds a service once a month, at eight of them once a quarter, and at St Stephen’s about half the services are conducted by Mr Ward, and half by Mr Hands. At some of these the services have not been held as regularly as we would wish, but the irregularity has been unavoidable. The unanimous wish of the vestry and churchwardens is that the borough and suburbs of Ashburton, as shown on the plan before you, be constituted a separate parish. The question has been considered at several meetings, and the decision to recommend the division to the parishioners has not been arrived at without careful thought and consideration of the subject upon all its bearings. The number of churchmen residing in the town and suburbs is now so great that the daily services of a clergyman are urgently required in visiting the sick, in attending to burial and other duties, in the church and schools on Sundays, and in other works of importance that demand much more attention than it has been able hitherto to accord them. At the present time many of the services held at St Stephen’s and the Ashburton churches and schools are conducted by lay-readers, and while these services are gladly availed of, they have always been considered as temporary arrangements, and we think the time has arrived when a clergyman should be permanently located amongst us. Great dissatisfaction has been expressed for some time past by persons living outside, and also by many living in the borough, at the small amount of attention that is at present shown them in church matters. Under the existing plan this cannot be avoided, simply because Mr Hands has such a large district to travel over that it is utterly impossible to call on the parishioners as often as he would wish. The only satisfactory remedy for this is to divide the district into separate parishes. If this is carried out, we feel assured church matters will very soon have a brighter side than they have at present, and the apathy now shown will wear off, and much more real and earnest interest will be taken by all.

Mr Gundry, Churchwarden, then read the following financial statement : In older that the financial position of the parish may be taken fully into consideration, lists, comparing the offertories and subscriptions received for the year ending Eastei, ISSI, with two previous years have been prepared, and it will be seen that the contributions from the parochial district have been falling oft' to such an extent that it may almost be said that the parish is taking the full burden of the whole district. The offertories received from that portion of the parish and parochial district outside the proposed boundary of the town parish were for the year IS7B-79, L 126 6s id ; for 1579-SO, L 62 19s lid; and for 18S0-Sl, L 79 os id. These offertories are placed to the credit of general expenses, and against this amount of L 79 leceived last year, we paid sinking fund on the Waterton and Tinwald churches, and Windeimere parsonage, L 32, interest on the loans on these buildings (L 400), L 26, and the expenses of carrying layreaders, Li2, total, L7O. The subscriptions to the stipend received from the same portion of the district, tor 1879-S0 was Ll6B 7s, but last year the amount actually received was only L 46 15s, 1.45 of which was contributed by three parishioners only, leaving Li 15s as the amount contributed by the whole of the parishioners outside the town and suburbs of Ashburton, excepting these thicc gentlemen. The contributions to the church funds from the town of Ashburton for the same periods were 1579-SO, offertories, L 126 14s Sd, subscriptions to stipend, L 56 13s, pew reu s, L 49 Cs 3d — L 222 13s I id; and for 18S0-Sl, offertories L 169 15s yd, pew rents, L6B 9s 911, and subscriptions to stipend, 1,60 3s 6d —L29S Ss lod. Thus it will be seen that while the country contributions have been falling oft to such an extent, as to be of very little service in working the parish and parochial district, the contributions from the town have steadily increased. \Vc may also mention that dining the year 18S0-81,' a gift auction was held in Ashburton, by which means Ll3l 15s 2d was obtained for church purposes, and almost the whole of the material and funds for this were contributed by the townspeople. The fixed loans on church property in the parish and parochial district are LBOO, and a private loan on bonds of LSOO. Total, Li, 300. This is provided for by shares in the Building Society, the paid up value of which at last Easter was 1211. The open accounts due by the parish and parochial district at Easter were L 350. It is proposed that in case of separation, these accounts should be submitted to the church authorities to adjust,,

The estimated annual expenses of the new parish of St. Stephens are, stipend, L 250, si iking fund on the Ashburton church loan and the whole of Miss Winter’s loan, L6O (but w« think that at least a portion of Miss Winters would belong to the parochial district); church cleaning, Ll 5 ; gas, L 25; insurance, L 8; interest, L 62 ; sundries, L. 30. Total, L 450. The receipts (or this portion of the parish for ISSO-S1 were, subscriptions, L6O 3s 6d ; pew rents, L6S 9s gd ; offertories, 1, 169 15s 7d. Total, L29S 8s rod. Since the present vestry took office, however, the subscriptions to the stipend have been increased to the rate of L 75 per annum, and the pew rents to LIOO ss. and there are several parishioners who are withhohling their subscription to the fund until the question of the parish division is settled. The fact is that 1 ; e parishioners throughout the parish and parochial distiict aic dissatisfied with 1 he present arrangement of church matters. The members of the parochial district have expressed their opinion by withholding their contributions altogether, and the town parishioners do not think they receive a full enough share of the Incumbent's services to warrant their subscribing lo the extent they otherwise would do. W T e would mention that there were only twenty-two subscribers to the stipend fund last year in the whole of the parish and patochial district, and of these seventeen were within the town division. The churchwardens and vestry are of opinion that if a parish were constituted in accordance with the plan before you, in order that we might have the full services of the Incumbent, it would greatly conduce to the harmony of the parish, and enable the church officers to work it satisfactorily. It is for the parishioners lo say if, in case of a separation, they would be prepared to subscribe a little mo r e liberally to the funds of the church; and we feel sure that such a division will be for the spiritual welfare of the whole district. We have heard it remarked that by taking the step proposed we should be forcing members of the parochial district into pecuniary arrangements that may be inconvenient to them in their present position, and so doing them an apparent wrong and showing an ungrateful feeling for the help we have received from them in past years, but we have, however, good reason to believe that this would not be the

After some questions had been asked and answered as to the amounts contributed by the outlying districts, in reply to Mr Boyle, the Chairman said that it would have been a mere waste of time for him to have sent notices some time back of this meeting being about to be held to the outside residents, as he knew they would not attend. Mr G undry remarked that this meeting was held not so much for the outside as for the borough parishioners. All the other religious bodies had each a resident clergyman, whose duties lay chiefly in the borough. The Chairman said that a little while back, when he was at Buccleuch station, Mr Harper had stated to him that the outside people would not undertake to support a clergyman until the vestry brought down a financial statement showing what their liabilities would be; and he also stated that unless the sea district was included in the outside parish they would have nothing to do with it. For his (the Chairman’s) own part, he took great interest in the sea district, especially from his experiences at Longbeach and Waterton. The whole question, however, would have to be discussed before the Synod, which will meet in about two months. Mr Fooks said that, in order to test the feeling of the meeting, he would move—- “ That this meeting, having heard the statements of the incumbent and churchwardens, is of opinion that a division of the parish and parochial district be made, and that the boundaries of the new parish be those shown on the map now before the meeting, and the church officers take the necessary steps for carrying out the division.”

Mr Bullock seconded the resolution, and said that if the meeting were adjourned there would probably be fewer instead of more present. The outside districts had contributed very little more than sufficient to meet the amounts due for the sinking fund on their churches. Ho thought it would be much better to leave them to make arrangements for having a clergyman of their own. It was quite time that the borough should be separated. Dr Trevor remarked that all the people in the outlying districts to whom he had spoken were desirous of a separation. Mr Gundry read a list of annual subscriptions from the outlying districts which had either ceased or had been greatly reduced. The interest of those districts in the parish had ceased. All the country offertories, except those of Waterton and Longbeach, had fallen off. The Chairman said that it might be thought that his services had been almost exclusively devoted to Longbeach and Waterton, but that was not at all the fact. By far the larger part of the time he could spare for the outlying districts was spent on the hill country. Mr Ward, in a speech of some length, remarked that the amount received altogether from the outlying districts in subscriptions and offertories was about LIAO. He did not wish to see the separation carried out, because it was a repudiation of their engagements. When the present clergyman first came here, it was agreed that he should attend to the spiritual welfare of those outside places. Such a spiritual repudiation meant that in the districts the children were to be unbaptised, the dead nnburied, and the young people live in sin. [Several voices, No !J He believed also that spiritual repudiation would lead to financial repudiation. Mr Bullock rose to order, and said that not one person had proposed anything like repudiation. The Chairman denied that there was or was likely to he any such thing as there being no clergyman to perform baptisms, marriages, or funerals. The people in the country districts knew that they were not contributing according to their ability. They avowed it, and said they wanted separation. After a lengthy and desultory discussion, Mr Fooks altered his resolution so as to read as follows: ing, having heard the statements of the Incumbent and churchwardens, is of opinion that a division of the parish and parochial district is desirable.” Mr Ward moved that the following words be added to the resolution : “ And that the further consideration of the matter be deferred until a meeting can be called at which representatives of the parochial district may have an opportunity of attending.” This was seconded by Mr Boyle, and the proposer and seconder having agreed to the addition, the resolution was put and carried, with two dissentient voices. Dr Trevor moved —“That the churchwardens be requested to communicate with the church members in the country districts to ascertain their opinion on the desirability of separation, and to try to meet their views on the subject.” Seconded by Mr Ward, and carried. The rev. Chairman then pointed out that the effect of the resolution was that the people of the town were willing to support a clergyman themselves. Dr Trevor was then elected a man in place of Mr Winter, resigned. The doctor stated at the time that he would only accept the office on the understanding that he should oppose the letting of seats as heretofore. The meeting then closed after a vote of thanks to the Chairman.

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CHURCH OF ENGLAND PAROCHIAL MEETING., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 399, 19 July 1881

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CHURCH OF ENGLAND PAROCHIAL MEETING. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 399, 19 July 1881

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