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History

  • Women of St Johns - for details of the many women of St John who are included in a book prepared to record the contributions of many women of faith. At present, the file includes the text only, but the full book can be found in our chapel, including photographs of all those included. This is inspiring!

A SHORT HISTORY

Soon after the arrival of the first settlers in Wellington in 1840, a group of Presbyterians built a church, St Andrews, located on what is now Lambton Quay. In the early 1850s, the Reverend John Moir arrived from the Free Church of Scotland, to minister to a group of Presbyterians at a new church on the corner of Willis and Dixon Streets. This became known as the Willis St Church. It was soon too small to accommodate the congregation, and after a number of changes it was finally demolished in 1874. Its replacement was completed in 1875 and was called St John's.

Unfortunately the new church was destroyed by fire in 1884 along with the adjoining Sunday School. A larger church and schoolroom were then planned, incorporating the section occupied by William Spinks, shopkeeper.

The present St John's was designed by well-known architect Thomas Turnbull. He had also designed the nearby St Peter's Anglican Church, Wesley Methodist Church in Taranaki St, and later the General Assembly Library in Parliament grounds. The new church was opened in 1885, with seating for 800, in a parish with 360 communicant members. By 1911 the parish had 700 communicant members, with attendance of 1000 on most Sundays.

When it was established the church was very much on the edge of the colonial town, surrounded by predominantly residential dwellings. As the city has expanded over the decades, the residential dwellings have been replaced by commercial buildings. The church now is very much in the commercial part of city. In the last ten or so years, however, the advent of apartment living, and the movement of people back into the city has changed the balance to some degree.

Today many of the members and people who worship at St John's in the City come from outside the city centre, from the suburbs. Closure of the Roseneath Church on Mt Victoria in the 80s, and the uniting with Kelburn Parish in 1993 added a new dimension to St John's in the City. The completion of the site redevelopment in 1994, including the replacement of Troup House, the building of the new Conference Centre, and the addition of the MacKay Chapel to the church, together with the increasing ethnic diversity within the parish, has seen St John's move ahead in many different ways.

In the last 10 years, the Church complex has remained the same but the outreach of the Church has changed dramatically.  St John's has developed a closer relationship with the BGI for outreach to young people; has supported a lectureship in Christian Theology at Victoria University; committed to be a "Kids Friendly" church; is supporting the expansion of the wider Church, especially in the parish of Knox-Waitara; has introduced a contemporary evenng service; and continues to proclaim the gospel in the heart of Wellington.

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