Hamilton Methodist Parish

Parish History

The Hamilton Methodist Parish began its life as two separate churches. The Wesleyan Methodist Church commenced work in the military settlement at Kirikiriroa with the appointment in 1864 of the Rev, John Rishworth as its chaplain. Within four years, the first church was opened in Collingwood Street near Victoria Street on the 1st November 1868, and was known as Trinity Methodist Church. The Primitive Methodist Church was erected in 1906 in London Street, just two years after its first Primitive Methodist Minister was appointed. 

When these two streams of Methodism in New Zealand were united in 1913, the two churches in Hamilton were amalgamated and became the base for the Hamilton Circuit, centred on the London Street site. A number of outlying suburban churches and preaching places became established over the years, one of these being at Melville. The church on the Collingwood street site was moved to London Street at the time of the Union, and set up as the Sunday School, to the rear of the church. Hamilton City has seen a huge amount of growth and change since then, and what was once a largely residential area has now become the commercial heart of the city, and residential areas are much more widely spaced round its perimeter. This has had a big influence on the congregation. Whereas in the 1920's to 1940's many people lived within walking distance of St Paul's, that is no longer the case. So the congregation has dwindled reflecting this change, and this has brought about the amalgamation of the St Paul's and Melville congregations in December 2013.

Two Memorial Plaques marking the sites of our two founding Churches in 1868 and 1904.

Parish History

  • St Paul's Church History

    Going, going, .........

    Since the Christchurch earthquakes, our St Paul's Church has been assessed as below the acceptable earthquake risk level in the building code, and has been compulsorily closed against any further use by a congregation. This was a cruel blow to many of the congregation who had worshipped there for many years and saw it as their spiritual home. A temporary arrangement was made to gather in the foyer of the Methodist Centre for services. The Centre, to the rear of the Church building, was a more modern structure and was not deemed a risk. But such an arrangement, though it had its good points, was only a stop-gap measure, and a decision was taken about a year ago to merge the two Parish congregations of St Paul's and Melville into one, and use the Melville buildings.

    But what then, for the St Paul's building? Discussions have taken place over the following months, looking at costings for strengthening the building, or possible alternatives. It came to be realised that there was a real merit in having a central city presence for Methodism in Hamilton City, and that the present site was a very valuable piece of Real Estate that should not be turned away from without very good reason. But at the same time it was realised that the old wooden building didn't appeal to the general public and there was a real need to modernise the church on the site.

    The Synod Property Committee who met with the congregation encouraged us to think in terms of modernising to meet the more current needs of the city, and to think in terms of a complex that could be financially self-supporting. With these ideas being considered, an architect helped to show what could be done. Eventually the congregation held a meeting last Sunday (9th November) to try to come to a decision. Some alternative ideas were looked at by means of a Power Point Presentation, and thought to be not what was wanted, but one idea did appeal. It was to remove the wooden building and replace it with a multi-purpose building of several floors which could include a shop frontage, a worship centre above it, and several floors of office suites above that.

    After a very worthwhile discussionit was recommended:

    That the Congregation of the Hamilton Methodist Parish

    1. endorses the concept of a multi-level, multi-purpose building on the old St Paul's site,

    2. seeks the disposal of the old St Paul's building in the best way possible, and

    3. asks the Parish in conjunction with the Synod and the Connexion, to develop and implement plans for the construction of an appropriateiconicbuilding.

    This was agreed without dissent.So this is pointing the way to a very different future for our Methodist Church in the city of Hamilton. We pray God's blessing on this programme, and look forward with hope for its fulfilment without undue delay.

    Coming, coming....Something to compare favourably with Fonterra's building next door!

    A building that will stand tall amidst the other commercial buildings in London Street and proudly carry our Methodist name and presence into the future, continuing God's work in the city.

  • Melville Church History

    GREETINGS - From Rev W.R. Francis ex-superintendent, Hamilton Circuit

    The city of Hamilton and the Methodist Church have a long history of sharing fortunes and setting future goals - so as the city expanded southward it was only natural that Methodism would soon follow.

    Thus it was, with the, generous help of the Hamilton Methodist Trust, the circuit decided to establish a cause in the general direction of the Melville area where a Presbyterian cause was the only other denomination represented there at the time. Settling the site posed problems as the extent of the expansion could only be guessed and land was in demand.... W.R. Francis 

    The Melville Methodist church has offered ministry on this site consistently for forty years. It began as a part time ministry by a group of Christian people deeply committed to a gospel of love, care, and compassion. Over time Melville people developed into a full time ministry and a new worship centre has been added. A bargain Bin (opportunity shop) was established and quickly gained a reputation as a very useful form of ministry in the Melville area ........ K Desmond Cooper Parish Superintendent October 1999.

    Celebrating our 150th anniversary!

    Our Historian/Archivist Virginia Graham tells of her "Ladder Moment" to Rev Edwin Clarke, when Methodism, which began in Hamilton 150 years ago, became a part of her life, as witnessed by her Baptism Certificate.