The Rev A. McNeur (left) and Mr J.C. Hay (right) at the March 28, 1953 laying of the foundation stone for the Morven Sunday school hall.
The congregation gathers at the front of Morven Church at the end of its closing service on May 20.
A capacity crowd of about 95 people filled Morven Church on May 20 to farewell the building that has housed more than 100 years' worship services, family celebrations and community events.
The church, home to an Anglican and Presbyterian co-operating parish since 1969, has closed its doors after leaders decided to focus their resources and services on their other church building at Glenavy.
Morven Church, along with an adjacent hall and the land itself, is going up for sale.
Bill Penno, 75, grew up attending Presbyterian services at Morven. Now a locally ordained minister, he preached the final sermon within its walls.
Mr Penno said he and other members of the congregation hoped the church building could be relocated as a house of worship in another place.
The building opened as a Presbyterian church on August 2, 1906. It was built for 331 pounds, or about $50,000 at today's costs, according to inflation rates calculated by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.
The Morven Church that exists today is still the original structure, updated with a new roof and other improvements through the years.
The history of a congregation at Morven dates back to the 19th century, to the Waikakahi Estate and the formation of a Presbyterian home mission station in 1896.
The estate owner, Allan McLean, donated 12 hectares of land for the purpose of placing a church on the property.
In 1953 a Sunday school hall was added to the property, behind the existing church building.
As part of the closing service, people were invited to share their memories of Morven, said Janet Williams, a locally ordained minister who led the service.
They told of mountains of food at church picnics, thriving youth groups, singing in worship services, weddings, baptisms, and community-wide events such as springtime "flower Sundays" when daffodils were given to each mother in the district.
Morven has also been the first posting for several clergymen who have gone on to high-profile careers, including Kelvin Wright, now Bishop of Dunedin, who was vicar at Morven from 1982-85.
When each of those ministers left, as long as two years could go by before they were replaced, Mr Penno said.
But, in those times, people from the congregation would step in and lead worship services, he said, and the work of the church "continued quite strongly."
Now he hopes that tradition will continue. The closure of the Morven Church is the end of an era for the building, but not for the congregation that worshipped there.
"Those sorts of things have carried on," he said, "and will carry on."
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