Sadness as church to be sold


More than a century of worship came to an end in the Pukerau Presbyterian Church on Sunday.

Southern Presbytery moderator Anne Thomson and about 120 present and former congregation members and visitors attended a decommissioning service for the land and building.

The church is part of the Pukerau Waikaka Valley Presbyterian parish.

The church was opened in March 1895.

It cost 260 to build the weatherboard structure which was later roughcasted.

Session clerk Alistair Price said there were insufficient numbers in the parish to maintain three churches.

“This one is sound but needing repairs and it is impractical for our parish life to keep it open.”

It was not an easy decision to close a building that was 127 years old.

“It’s a little bit tough.

“There’s sadness but yet we’ve still got two other churches.

“The parish is not closing.”

Selling the building would give the parish options.

“We’ve got ideas that we can do, to mainly another church that would improve its functionality and so today we’re sad, tomorrow we get on with the work on the next stage of the project.”

The church and about 1.9ha of land will be sold.

One item of interest in the church was a crocheted cloth which was given by Lady Grace Todd.

Lady Grace and her husband Sir Garfield were missionaries in the former nation of Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, before Sir Garfield entered politics.

The cloth was made by some of the women Lady Grace worked with.

Lady Grace’s motehr grew up nearby.

Pukerau resident Daphne Potter (nee Pullar) is the oldest member of the congregation at 90 and has attended the church all her life.

“It’s sad because our family were always involved in the church,” Mrs Potter said.

“It’s been a big part of my life.”

Her late husband Roland’s family also attended the church.

She grew up halfway between Pukerau and Kaiwera and the family attended both the Pukerau and the Kaiwera church which was later closed.

However, it was war time and the family did not travel much.

In the early days there were two aisles down the side of the room which made it an impractical place to hold a wedding, she said.

“Then they altered it and put the aisle down the middle and there [have] been weddings since.”

Mrs Thomson said it was time to move on from using the building.

“We know worship and witness will continue but not in this space.

“Today is not the end of this parish and it is definitely not the end of God’s love and care for the people of this district.”