A Brief History of Methodism in Papanui
The first Methodist service in Papanui was held in 1851 in a whare belonging to Mr Isaac W. Philpott. The preacher was Rev James Watkin who was a pioneer of Christianity in the South Island.
Regular Methodist services began in 1854 barn where the present church stands. The barn was owned by James Reese, and the Reese Room is named after him. James Reese sold the acre of land to the Church in 1858.
John Reese, James' brother, and Rev John Aldred raised funds to build the first church on the property in 1859. Ten years later a new church was built and connected to the old church to form a school room.
In the 1870's a lady living in Langdon's Road wanted to attend the church. She was helped to do so by the gentleman who lived in a large homestead where Mitre 10 Mega now stands. He did this by opening a lane between Langdon's & Harewood Roads; land which is now known as Chapel Street.
During these early years, the church had a Methodist Day School, an active Sunday School and held revival meetings. Their choir – The Papanui Fisk Jubilee Singers, toured the district and packed out the Theatre Royal for two nights raising significant funds. There was also a Mutual Improvement Society, a Debating Group, a Band of Hope, a Temperance Society, a Temperance Brass Band, a Tennis Club and more than one Christian Endeavour Society.
A new brick church was built and opened in 1913 and in the early 1920's electric lights were put in the church, gas heaters installed, and wire netting put on the steeple louvers to keep birds out. The steeple was a landmark on Harewood Road.
A new Sunday School made of permanent materials was built and opened in January 1927.
The brick buildings suffered significant damage during the Canterbury earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 and both needed to be demolished. The current church was opened in January 2016.
More detailed information about the history of Methodism in Papanui can be found here.
Relationship with the Christchurch Methodist Mission
In 1914 the South Island Children's Home and Orphanage was opened across from Chapel Street. There was a close relationship between the Children's Home and the Parish with children attending Sunday School. The Christchurch Methodist Mission took over management of the Children's Home in 1978. New Zealand's philosophy of care of children moved away from institutional care to foster homes and the Children's Home closed in 1987.
In 1996 the Wesley Retirement Village was built on the site and the relationship between the Parish and the Mission continued. This was strengthened when the Christchurch Methodist Mission moved its offices to the site after the earthquakes.
The Parish supports Aratupu, Christchurch Methodist Mission's Early Childhood Education Centre located at 97 Harewood Road, and other programmes run by the Mission.