Packed church farewells reverend
There were tears, smiles and shared memories among the pews of St Paul’s Church on Sunday.
The little Presbyterian Church on the hill was packed out as people gathered to farewell Reverend Alistair McNaughton and his family.
Many in the congregation spoke of the contribution he and his wife Catherine had made since taking over the ministry seven years ago.
McNaughton moved to Kaiko¯ura with Catherine and their three children as an intern from South Auckland, moving from a much-larger ministry to a very small congregation.
He said he would miss the church but if he was building the church today he would have a glass-in front to take in the ‘‘perfect view of the ocean and mountains’’.
‘‘Its an amazing building, but most of what we’ve done has been out of the church because it isn’t designed for modern use.
‘‘The people who come to the morning service very much love it, and a lot of tourists come in summer,’’ he said.
During his time in Kaiko¯ura McNaughton and his wife Catherine have focused on growing the congregation and filled their house with people, instigated an afternoon kid’s club, started a youth ministry as well as a second afternoon service for children and families called The Table, and taught chess to children in the local schools.
Since the 7.8-magnitude earthquake last November, The Table, an informal church service and low-key barbecue, has been held in the Manse, where 30 people congregate in the McNaughton home.
‘‘We aren’t a formal culture so low-key informality is a value of kiwi society for some,’’ said McNaughton.
Along with Takahanga Marae the church took in people stranded after the quake and more than 50 tourists slept on the floor of the church and in the house.
‘‘We just opened up the doors for them to stay.
‘‘It was just being human, an act of kindness and a place for them to stay just like most Kaiko¯urians opened up their places,’’ he said.
McNaughton said the earth- quake had brought the community closer together.
‘‘After the earthquake we found there was an increased connection and openness with people and more doors were open.’’
McNaughton said he has made some ’’incredible connections with people’’.
‘‘In a small rural community there’s a constant rubbing of shoulders that doesn’t happen in a larger city or township.’’
He said he had learnt a lot from Kaiko¯ura, where he had to create things from scratch.
McNaughton was moving to oversee a much larger congregation in Geraldine, and to spend more time with his three teenage children. He had no qualms about the future and said there were many capable people who had stepped up to help out.
Mayor Winston Gray said the reverend was a man who supported and cared deeply for the community.
He had been an inspiration, helping out in the aftermath of the earthquake and organised the community church service in the park, when the town’s churches came together for a service postquake.
‘‘He has the ability to look after his fellow man, which he is good at and prepared to put his hand up to help those in need.
‘‘He and his family care deeply about people,’’ said Gray.
Reverend Alistair McNaughton outside historic St Paul’s Church.