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.