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The Anglican Oharoh of fit Stephen's, waß, thla nurnlng, conseorated by the Moßt Rev the Primate, Bishop Harper. To a good many of oar readers It Ib, doubtless, matter for surprise that the Ohuroh, m whioh dlrlne aervlce has been held for many years, had not previously been consecrated- It is one of the diooesan rales, however, that no Oharoh can be consecrated so long as any debt remains on the edlfio or grounds. The parlßhionera of St Stephen's inourred a heavy debt m the building of their Oharoh, bat that debt hai now been paid off to the uttermost farthing, heaoo the ceremony whioh has now taken place. Perhaps a short history of the progress of the Ohuroh slnoe its first establishment here, may not be uninteresting. About the year 1865 the Rev A. Olementson took oharge of the Ashburton district. , all the country between the Rakala and Rangltaca rivers from the hills to the sea beiDg under his owe, and held periodiaai services at the different stations throughout the district. These servioes were mostly held m the wool sheds at the various stations. The largest congregation was that whioh assembled at Westerfield, then the property of the late Mr Ohas. Reed, who took great interest m Ohoeoh «n»l,. Mr Reed ereoted a kind of marquee of tarpaulins In tcont of hla verandah, and had It seated with forms. The people m those days would ride or drive as tar as twenty or thirty miles to attan* service and as at this time the only plecd of formed road m 4shbnrton was » short length from where the approaoh to the Traffic bridge now stands, to the corner ol Moore street, it can readily be imagined tbat travelling was no easy matter. The Rev Mr Olementson was all that a pioneer clergyman should be, and no difficulties oould deter him m the performance ©F his work. He had to build his own stable, and as galvanised iron was m thoie days a scarce and expensive commodity, the rev gentleman had to build the structure of toi tol, of whioh there was plenty m the river bed. Probably the then residents will remember the faot of one of the di-i hands, who waa considered au adept, offering to teach Mr Oiemeotson to out toi tol, and being completely staggered at finding the clergyman could give him points at the work. Mr Olemontson remained m oharge of this district about two years when he returned to England, his departure being much regretted by bis Ashburtoa friends, He was succeeded by the Rev Mr Hutchison, who, however, did not remain, quite twelve months, as being a man advanced m years, he could not get about the district. Then oame the Rev Mr Oooper, whose oharge extended from Akaroa to the MoKetzle country, so it may well be Buppoßed his work was none of the lightest. Not only did Mr Oooper oonduot three servioes each Sunday, but also at every station or farm where he stayed for the night. Every one knew from the " Oharoh News " when to expeot him and would gather m and mako up a good congregation. Up to thia time there were only about half a dozen farmera m the district. Mr Cooper's ministrations extended over a period of about twelve months, and after, his removal no Olergyman was appointed to the charge of the district for some time, services m the interim being conducted by Mr Joseph Ward. There was no Ohuroh then and it was about this time that the servloea were first held m the Borough Schoolroom, then a very small building, and whioh had been jast ereoted. Prior to this the services 'were held for some time at Turton's hotel, a building whioh stood on a site at the end of the praaent Traffio bridge, and whioh was demolished wb«a the bridge was built. Prior to this the Bervloes we?e held m Meisrs Tanored a.nd Allen's woolshedat their homestead, which is now the property of Mr Donald Williamson, and later still the pl»ea of meetlfg was, as has been previously stated, the Borough schoolroom, which was ereoted about 1871. Mr Oooper was succeeded by the Rev. Mr Wills, who remained tn oharge of the dißtrlot some two years. The Rev. Mr P»ge was then appointed, *nd he stayed here some time. It was during 018 term of ofhce that the present Ohuroh was ereoted and tbe dlstrlot eub-divlded. Ihe Rev. Mr Hands followed My Page and.about five or ait years ago the Rev, Mr Soott waa appointed to the inoumbenoy, and has remained here slnoe. It was during the oharge of Mr Page and In the year 1875 that the building of the pretty little Ohuroh of St. Stephen's was commenced. Some time prior to the contraction of the Ohuroh, the Parsonage was built, we understand, at a boßt of something like £900, the land for *he purpose being given by Messrs Tanored and Allen. A considerable debt was inourred m buildIng the Ohurcb, and this haa recently bean entirely paid off, the exertions of the Key. Mr Soott contributing greatly towards this end. There wiaa fairly numerous oongregaUon this morning on. the oeoasion of the OQOMQratlqifc qf (Av.Qbmob, the Qocewooy

being performed by the Primate, assisted by the Hevs E.. A. Soitt, R. Gar belt (Tlnwald), aud U. Collins, Sonth Rakaia, The Bishop, clergy, and choir walked lv prooeasiuu a short way op the aisle, where the Ray E A Soott read the petltion for consecration The 24th psalm wbb then repeated. Hyma 395 (A. and M.) was sang, and j the Bishop and the Rev B. A. Soott moved to tbe foot, pulpit, and communion table, * In tarn, which were consecrated; - The " Te Dautn " baylpg been aung hla Lordahip read the sentence of consecration, which he promined to h»ve duly reoorded among the muniments of the dlooeae of Obrlatohurch. : Hyma 179 (A, and M.) was aung. The sermon was preaohed by the Primate. Hla Lordship took for hia text, Psalm lxiii. 1 and 2. •' O God, Thou art my God, early willjlseekThee.- Mysoul thirateth for Taee, my flesh aleo longeth after Thee ; In a barren and dry land where no water Is." The sermon waa a most eloquent one, and it made a very great impression on those present* At the oonoluslon of the sermon, hymn 215 was sung. The collection taken up was, it was announced, intended t> be devoted to the Ohuroh Improvement Fund, the Bet E. A. Soott atating that the vestry contemplated remedying the dampness to which the building was liable m winte* time.

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Bibliographic details

CONSECRATION OF THE CHURCH, Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 1979, 25 October 1888

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CONSECRATION OF THE CHURCH Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 1979, 25 October 1888