Strong links between Church and community are the central theme of Light on the Hill (2002), a history of the Opoho Presbyterian Parish compiled by Norman Sheat. Opoho’s original wooden church began as a small community hall, built by voluntary labour about 1892 on land given by a resident who wanted the ‘boys of the village’ to have a meeting place and recreational centre. A Baptist congregation was permitted to use the hall, which they soon bought. The Baptists sold the building to the North East Valley Presbyterian Church in 1909, but many members of the existing congregation remained. Regular Sunday services were then conducted by laymen and students for the Ministry for a period of 21 years until, in 1930, Opoho became an ‘aided charge’ and the first minister was appointed.
In 1936, Opoho became a fully-sanctioned charge, and the following year the original building was moved to the back of the section and the existing church built on the site. The old building served as the church hall until 1957, when a new hall was constructed. Major alterations were carried out in 1961, and in 1964 the Morrison Lounge was built. This central meeting room was named for George Morrison, a man described as ‘the heart and soul of the community’ who served as Session Clerk for more than 30 years, and his wife Elsie Morrison.
Parish life in recent years has included Sunday morning worship, the Sunday School and Opoho Youth (OY), fellowship and study groups, café-style services, ‘Soulspace’, camps, a wide variety of vocal and instrumental music, art exhibitions, political forums, and social events.
Our centenary celebrations were held in October 2009, with about 120 registrants attending. Events included a church service, dinner, displays, tours, and the unveiling of a set of double doors opening into the garden – a memorial to Nancy Geering. More about the weekend can be read in the special insert that was published in the Opoho Signal.
Our ministers since 1930 have been:
We have appreciated informal and personal links with the Knox Theological Hall (now the Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership). Those associated with the Opoho Parish have included students for the ministry and their families, staff of the Theological Hall, Masters of Knox College, and retired ministers.
John Gilman Dunn
The ceremony for laying the foundation stone of the present church building in 1937. Our thanks to Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries for the use of this image (ref: AWNS-19371006-45-4).
Centenary celebrations in 2009.