Rev Geoff King  writes:   “Thanks again to all who’ve posted messages of support and are praying for those most affected by these latest quakes in Chch – a great reminder that God is love and love is bigger than the broken walls of any church.”

In the Forward of the centennial history of  Knox Church,  Fergus Murray states:  Our heritage, as these chapters demonstrate, is not an easy one.  Much struggle and toil has been poured into Knox Church by past generations, along with much faith in Christ’s way.  Yet this centennial history must be dedicated not to the congregations of the past but to the congregations of the future.  For the path from here on will be no less stony.  Only by holding on to what is good for our inheritance may we grow in God’s love.

 The Church is no more its walls are broken, and yes it may be only a building but as a friend commented ‘a building that has been wrenched from them without their permission’.  Many, many hundred’s if not thousands of people have heard God speaking to them within these walls, and for the members of today their return will  be tinged with great sadness. 

 Knox Church was the daughter of St. Paul’s.  Its beginnings lie in a prayer meeting held at the home of of Mrs Bradden, Carlton Place, Victoria Street, near the corner of Bealey Avenue and just opposite the present church; the area which has been severely effected in this last earthquake.  

Initially St. Paul’s set up a Sunday School in the North Belt of the city and a growing group of Presbyterians began to move towards establishing an independent parish.  They built a small church, purchased a piece of land for £1000 on Bealey Ave and called their first minister, an Irishman, the Rev. David Mckee who was inducted in the Oddfellows’ Hall on 8 April 1880.  However the parish was dealt a severe blow with his death 6 months later.   Under the 20 year ministry of another Irishman,  the Rev. Dr. Robert Erwin , the congregation steadily grew both in numbers and financial strength. By 1901 they were ready to build on their section and the foundation stone for the new church was laid by the Mayor of Christchurch 11 June 1901.  The opening service was conducted by the Moderator of the newly united Presbyterian Church of New Zealand, the V. Rev. James Gibb, May 1902 .  This new church was ‘lovingly’ named the ‘Cathedral of North Christchurch’; they had ‘built mightily to the glory of God’.

 The efforts of many went into repaying the debt, maintaining it over the years, renovating it when required and adding additions to serve the needs of each generation.  A comment from the early period applies equally today when considering this city parish. … a truly remarkable effort that could have been achieved only by inspiring leadership, tenancity of purpose and a self-sacrificing spirit.

by Yvonne


  1. So very, very sad to see the building reduced to this…. our love, prayers and thoughts are with you all. Be strong. God bless


  2. Media Advisory: Knox Presbyterian Church, 28 Bealey Avenue, Christchurch – New Zealand

    12 September 2013

    Issued by Momentus Public Relations Ltd

    New beginning for Knox Church

    The $5.5 million project of rebuilding the severely earthquake damaged Knox Presbyterian Church, on the corner of Victoria Street and Bealey Avenue, will be formally confirmed at an official contract signing tomorrow (13/09/2013) at 12.30pm. The contract will be signed by Janet Wilson, Knox Council Clerk and David Freeman of Higgs Construction Ltd, the principle contractor carrying out the project. Also attending will be Alun Wilkie of Wilkie and Bruce Architects the architects responsible for the design and Ron Keating, Project Manager from Knox.

    The century-old bricks tumbled and fell, the limestone cracked, and our landmark triple-gabled church on the corner of Victoria Street and Bealey Avenue has had its timber skeleton exposed to public gaze for more than 2 years, ever since the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes shattered the peace of Christchurch.

    Now it is time to provide new lightweight cladding for the heritage timber structure which so sturdily defied the violent quakes. By the end of 2014 we plan to have completed a fine modern interpretation of the old 1902 church building. The distinctive peaked roof line and striking interior timbers will remain, but no more bricks! Designed to meet 100% of the building code as at March 2013, and set on a thick raft foundation with walls that will flex in a big quake, the renewed Knox Church could easily last for another 100 years.

    The rebuilt church has been planned to be also suitable for community use, with seating for up to 400 people, and with improved insulation, accessibility and acoustics. Sprinklers will provide protection for the venerable timbers in case of fire. With its central location and its own car-parking area, Knox will be a fine venue for weddings, funerals, concerts, lectures and dramatic performances in the future.

    Wilkie and Bruce Architects, who have long experience with heritage buildings, are the lead consultants. They are working closely with Aurecon (structural and seismic engineers) and Powell Fenwick (mechanical, electrical, fire and hydraulic engineers). Rawlinsons have provided quantity surveying services and Marshall Day are handling the acoustics. The wonderful century old 1910 pipe organ has survived with minor damage only and will be repaired, upgraded and reinstalled by the South Island Organ Company.

    The parish was first established in 1880 and since then, Knox Church has touched the lives of many people. The TV image of the flood lit shell of the damaged church which nightly provided the background for the television news in the days following the February earthquake, has been etched in the minds of the wider public and evoked much interest in New Zealand and beyond.

    How are we paying for it?

    Funding to fully complete the $5.5 million project has yet to be confirmed. However, we are fortunate that monies received from our insurance pay out, various grants and support of the Knox Trust have made it possible for the work to start.

    We are seeking $2 million in fundraising through trust application, personal donations, and are hopeful that the good news of our rebuilding will encourage further financial support from around New Zealand, as people recall family connections and memories associated with Knox Church through the years.

    Please attribute all quotes to: Liz Baxendine, Chair of Knox Fundraising Committee.

    The signing will take place, weather permitting, on the pavement outside the church on Victoria Street.

    Knox Church: http://www.knoxchurch.co.nz/index.html

    Various Images of Knox Church:

    For further information please contact:

    Liz Baxendine
    Chair of Knox Fundraising Committee
    Ph: 03 355 5137
    Mobile: 027 655 5050
    Email: lizbax@xtra.co.nz


    David Lynch
    Momentus Public Relations Ltd
    Po Box 36321
    New Zealand
    Ph: 64-3-355-4422
    Fax: 64-3-355-3336
    Mobile: 021-226-9409
    E-mail: david@momentus.co.nz
    Confidentiality: This email and any attachment(s) are confidential. They may contain legally privileged information or copyright material. If you are not an intended recipient, you should not read, copy, use or disclose the contents. Please notify Momentus PR Ltd immediately and then delete the email and any attachment(s) from your computer system. We do not accept liability in connection with computer viruses, data corruption, delay, interruption, unauthorized access or unauthorized amendments. Any views expressed in this email and any attachment(s) do not necessarily reflect the views of the Momentus Public Relations Ltd or its associates.


    As we begin a new and exciting stage in the history of Knox Church, it may be interesting to glance back to our beginnings.

    In 1880 the present site of Knox Church was bought for 1000 pounds and a temporary church building set up. This was the third Presbyterian church in Christchurch, after St Andrews (now at Rangi Ruru School) and St Pauls (Trinity Pacific).

    The first minister was Rev David McKee who came from Ireland with his family. He suffered from “a weakness of the chest” and hoped that the better climate in NZ would improve his health. A man of much ability, he soon attracted a large and influential congregation and his generosity to the poor and needy was notable. However, his health did not improve and after only a few months he died, leaving his wife, nine children and his mother alone in this new land. No state welfare in those days, but the new congregation continued to pay his stipend to the family for six months and also set up a trust fund which bought half an acre of land in Onslow Street and built a house for the family there.

    Bealey Avenue was known as the North Belt at that time. The congregation of the new North Belt Church grew steadily and by 1901 there were 200 members. The church’s accounts were in good order, with their highest credit balance yet – 36 pounds! So now a permanent church building was planned and in 1902 the new brick church was opened. It cost 3418 pounds to build and the congregation had to take out a mortgage of 2000 pounds. A further 300 pounds was borrowed to pay for an organ. Then special appeals and fundraising efforts took place, to pay off the mortgage. One such scheme was a “penny collection” – one penny per member per week. In just 8 years all debt was repaid.

    The name “Knox Church” was given in 1904. Throughout the following years the church had many able ministers and the building became something of a landmark, standing sturdily on the corner of two important roads in the city.

    How the city has changed today! But even in its damaged state Knox Church has been a notable feature of the city and the soaring timbers have inspired interest and admiration. We at Knox are lucky to be able to look forward to the future and to worship services resuming in our lovely new-old church.

    Information from “Knox 1880 – 1980” by Fergus Murray


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