Church closes doors

SHARE
End of an era...At the finish of the Waikaka Presbyterian Church’s decommissioning service on Sunday parish members David (left) and Elizabeth Smith alongside the Rev Peter Dunn of Invercargill, carry out of the building the plate and cup used during the church’s communion service as a symbolic gesture the building will no longer be used for the purposes it was once set aside for. Mr Dunn officiated at the decommissioning service. PHOTO:SANDY EGGLESTON

Selling the Waikaka Presbyterian Church gives the congregation options, parish session clerk Jim Weir says.

The Waikaka church, which is part of the Knapdale Waikaka parish, has been sold to Brett and Hollis Giddens, of Arrowtown.

The Rev Peter Dunn, of Invercargill, officiated at the building’s decommissioning on Sunday.

Mr Weir said while the building would go, the parish would still own the land.

“It just gives us our options for the future without having to invest more money to maintain this building in the meantime,” Mr Weir said.

“We still have options for rebuilding in the future or whatever the way things go because it’s not only churches but community halls and all sorts of things are in a state in the rural community at the moment.”

In all probability, the parish would have needed to demolish the building anyway.

“I think it’s a positive thing because we have a building removed off the site and it’s not costing us money to do it.”

The church was built in 1911.

Session members had been approached about selling it and, considering maintenance was due on the building, decided to do so.

The parish was well served with a church building at Otama, which had been updated about 10 years ago, Mr Weir said.

“For the size of the congregation, it just makes sense to only have one building to maintain now.”

The congregation had been meeting every week at either Otama or Waikaka.

“Nowadays, everybody tends to go to [the] service regardless of where it is.”

For the next month, the congregation would meet at Otama, but the plan was to find a venue in Waikaka to hold services.

“We’re not closing- the parish is still here.”

In April last year the 134-year-old Knapdale Church, also part of the parish, was also decommissioned and sold.

Mr Giddens said he had been looking to buy an older heritage-style building for some time.

“I wanted to ideally get a building that would likely be demolished so I could feel like I am doing my part to preserve heritage in one way or another.

“That has always been very important to me and my wife.”

The building would be relocated to the couple’s rural property near Arrowtown.

“In the 1860s the Millers Flat Presbyterian Church was apparently located very close to where I am situated, so there is another heritage association which I think will help the building fit into its new home nicely.”

He would fully restore the building to bring it as close as possible to its original state.

“I don’t really have a timeframe for this but I am expecting it won’t be a quick process.

“The end use will likely be for my offices, but not 100% sure yet.”