Ponsonby church wins bid to stay open
The prayers of St Stephen’s Presbyterian Church’s congregation have been answered after it was announced their doors will remain open.
A presbytery commission tasked with reviewing the 134-year-old church’s viability revealed its decision at a congregation meeting on Sunday.
will not be disbanded but the commission has recommended that it looks at creating a more ‘‘lively and active’’ congregation, St Stephen’s session clerk Ross Prestidge says.
Parishioners feared the Ponsonby landmark would close after they were told its dwindling numbers and expensive earthquake strengthening bills made its future uncertain. ( Auckland City Harbour News, Decem- ber 26, 2012). The presbytery council executive made the decision to dissolve St Stephen’s ministry settlement board in December and establish a presbytery commission which would review the congregation’s future.
The church will be given an interim leader in the coming weeks.
Congregation member Arthur Langton says they are very pleased with the decision.
It was inevitable things had to change, he says.
‘‘If you look back 25 years there would have been more than 500 people attending the church but now these people have grown old or moved away and younger people aren’t replacing them.’’
The Herne Bay resident first began attending the church as a teenager in the 1960s and has been a regular member of the congregation for the past 20 years. Mr Langton says congregation numbers have more than doubled since the Auckland City Harbour News first publicised the church’s plight and heritage advocates began protesting outside the church in February.
There are now up to 60 people who attend regular services.
Congregation members feel positive about the church’s future, he says.