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A LANDMARK TO GO.

THE GERMAN CHURCH. AN EFFORT OF 60 YEARS AGO. BUILDING CONFISCATED DURING THE WAR. A chequered sixty years' history, in the course of which it has had twice to be given over by its Lutheran congregation to freethinking and spiritualist organisations, has been experienced by the old German church at the corner of Worcester and Montreal streets, tenders for the purchase of which have been called for. Tho property is being sold, stated the pastor of the church, the Rev. H. Traeger, yesterday, because the building is unsatisfactory on account of its age, and because it is desired to continue tho work of the church in a part of the City where there are better missionary opportunities. In any case the building is to be taken do., i). Tho movement for tho provision of a church in which the services should be conducted in the German language began with the German Benefit Association, which was formed in 1871, with the object of helping settlers of Gorman nationality in sickness or distress. The principal promoters and trustees were Messrs J. G. Ruddenklau, J. Gerken, P. Tisch, D. Kruso, and A. Thiele, who secured by subscription a sum of £550. The Provincial Government, having in view the arrival within a short time of a number of German Immigrants, supplemented this sum by a grant of £250. Laying the Foundation Stone. I The quarter-acre section at the corner of Worcester and Montreal streets was bought for £230, and plans for a church to hold 230 people were prepared by Mr J. S. M. Jacobsen. The tender of Mr John Grieg to erect the church for £725 was accepted. At the •laying of the foundation stone by the Hon. William Rolleston, Superintendent of the Province of Canterbury, on November oth, 1872, over 400 people were present, including Bishop Harper, who was then Primate of New Zealand, and five other Anglican clergy, including the then Dean and Archdeacon, and tho Rev. C. Bowen. The Presbyterian, Wcsleyan, Congregational, and Baptist Churches were also represented. Others present were the Mayor (Mr H. Sawtell), the German Consul (Mr T, H. Hassall), the Chancellor of the University of New Zealand (Mr H, J. Tancred), members of the Provincial Council, and of the City Council, and leading citizens. The Lutheran service sot apart for such occasions was read in German by Mr Bowen, and the hymns were led by a choir of 15 Germans, the accompaniment being played by the Cavalry Band under the leadership of Mr Bunz. Books of the service, with German and English text on alternate pages, were distributed. There was a brief address by Mr Rolleston, and, at tho evening function, by Mr Hassall. Records Set in Mortar.. The foundation stone came from Thompson's quarry, in Heathcote valley. In a cavity in the stone was placed a bottle containing a Prussian dollar, a silver groschen, a pfennig, copies of TnE Press and tho "Lyttelton Times" of November 6th, and a parchment bearing the following particulars: "German Protestant Church "Established and built by the German colonists in the province of Canterbury, New Zealand, by voluntary contributions given by themselves and by their English fellowcolonists, and also by tho aid of a liberal grant from tho Provincial Government, for the purpose of having tho Word of God preached in the German language. The foundation stone was laid by W. Rolleston, Esq., Superintendent, on November 6th, 1872, under the reign of Queen Victoria of Great Britain and Ireland, and the Emperor Wilhelm I. of Germany." Early Pastors'at the Church. The first pastor was the Rev. L. Lohr, who held office until April, 1878, when he went to Germany. He was succeeded by Pastor P. G. Jacobsen, who accepted the call to the church while he was at Melbourne. Mr Jacobsen was very strict in Lutheran practice, and some dissension arose in the congregation, which gradually declined in numbers, with tho result that in 1883 he went to California. Services in the church were discontinued, and until 1892 it was used as a meeting-place by the Canterbury Freethinkers' Society. In 1892 it reverted to its original use, and the Rev. T. A. Meyer, who held the pastorate in conjunction with the curacy of the Anglican Church at Heathcote, took charge. During this period the church was doctrinally not Lutheran, and was taken over by Mr Meyer nlainly with the idea of providing a religious service in German. Mr Meyer left in 1904, and since then, according to the Rev. 11. Traeger, the present pastor, no services have been conducted an the German language in the church. Thereafter the church was without a pastor for many years, and it was leased by the trustees for the purpose of Spiritualist meetings. Confiscation During the War. At the outbreak of the war tho property was confiscated by the Government, one of the grounds for this action being that the founders of the church had been members of the German State Church, and that it had been held for the purposes of that Church. The building continued to be used for Spiritualist meetings, however, the rent being paid to the Government. The church had a fine peal of bells, presented to the Lutheran community in Canterbury by the German Government in the time of the .Emperor Wilhelm I. These were supposed to have been cast from the metal of French guns captured in the course of the Franco-Prussian War, and during the late war, when feeling ran high against anything so expressive of German nationalism, there was an outcry to have them removed. They were taken from the church and were melted down, when it was found that the metal in them could not possibly have come from cannons. As there was no further use for the belfry, the wood of which had also decayed, this also was taken down. Activity Begins Again. Id 1922 the remaining members of the < congregation petitioned the Government : to hand over the property ti the Concordia (Lutheran) Conference of New 1 Zealand, and this was done by Order- j in-Council. This body had been formed i in 1907, when the various Lutheran cou- < gregations in the Dominion had joined ; together, the only exception being the

Canterbury congregation, which had not been active at the time, and had consequently retained its original status in relation to the German State Church. The Concordia Conference is a free Cnurch, with no connexion with any State Church, and conducts all its services in English. Tinder the new arrangement the Rev. R. H. Altus was the first pastor, and he ro-established the congregation, although not many of the original members had anything to do with it. The money received from the Government in refund* of the rents from the Spiritualist organisation, together with the compensation for the bells, was used for the purchase of a parsonage. Mr Altus was succeeded by Pastor H. H. Bruhn, who resigned owing to illhealth at the beginning of last year, when Mr 11. Traeger, tlic present pastor, took charge.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/CHP19320519.2.50

Bibliographic details

A LANDMARK TO GO., Press, Volume LXVIII, Issue 20550, 19 May 1932

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1,176

A LANDMARK TO GO. Press, Volume LXVIII, Issue 20550, 19 May 1932

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