Friday, 10 August 2018

Bainbridge Memorial Methodist Church

1st Methodist Church of Rotorua c.1906-current

Methodist’s didn’t arrive in Rotorua until c.1904 and the first church built here was on Hinemoa Street on Crown Lease land, officially opened 16th December  1906 was dedicated to Edwin Bainbridge who died at Te Wairoa as a result of the Tarawera Eruption.  

Services began by Rev. A.J. Seamer with a congregation of 8. 

The Methodist’s went on to build a church hall at Mamaku c1908 An advert in the NZH says that the Presbyterian Church in Mamaku offered to buy  the church and section from them in c1936 for approximately £50, this however fell through and the church was removed to a new site in Ngongotaha in 1939.

The Bainbridge Memorial Methodist Church was added to in 1909 with a ‘leanto social room’ another renovation in 1938 a new church hall. An organ was presented to the church by Mrs D.J. Skene in memory of her husband and her sister. Dedication of the organ took place on April 19th 1938.

The new hall was dedicated in May 1939. Further extensions were required by 1954 and these were duly opened by Lady Patricia Norrie, wife of the Governor-General, as the church commemorates her cousin, Edwin Bainbridge. The President of the Methodist Conference, the Rev. H.L. Fiebig of Christchurch and the minister of the church, Rev. G.V. Thomas were present along with a large crowd. The reason for the ceremony was also to commemorate the 50th jubilee of the church in Rotorua.

In 1959 a new Methodist Church was built on Clayton Road, Western Heights. It was called the ‘Wesley Church’. The Rev. Wm Isitt and his wife were the first to minister here in the suburbs. It was closed and sold in 1980.

In 1962 the Hinemoa Street church was enlarged again and a car port and large entrance room. They required an additional seating area for 80 people. A dedication service was held 15th Sept. 1962. At this time the church had also purchased the ‘quarter acre freehold’ property next door for future expansion and to prevent becoming built in”.  In 1969 the Rotorua Methodist Circuit bought what was Woolliams Shoprite supermarket, with upstairs offices, and an adjoining carpark.

Photograph taken during build of State Insurance new office block 1964.
With thanks to Ray Cook for this photograph.

However the need for a more modern facility became apparent and the church on Hinemoa Street was demolished 1st June 1982. The site of the 1st Methodist Church in Rotorua became the block of shops next to the State Insurance building (1964) [now Quest Apartments].  The building was named after Rev. Bernard Chrystall.

With thanks to Don Stafford Collection, Papers Past and The Bainbridge Church story : a sketch of the history of Methodist witness in Rotorua, New Zealand and the story of the Bainbridge Memorial Church from its planning to its demolition in 1982 / Dawson, J. B. (John Brant), 1915-2000.

The new Bainbridge Church was built on Old Taupo Road and remains there today.

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