Our Story began back on the 21st of May 1899. Since then the church has had a strong commitment to making a positive difference in the Kaiapoi Community.
In the late 1800’s a group of believers formed a fellowship together, and commenced worshiping as Kaiapoi Baptist Church. On the 20 March 1899, the foundation stone was laid for a new church building at 67 Fuller Street and on the 21st May, the new building was opened.
• The very first baptismal service was held at Forest’s Ford, a popular local spot on the river. The river banks were lined with people, and so they could get a better view of the proceedings, some local youths climbed up a tree onto a branch overhanging the river. As the five people being baptized went down into the water, the branch broke, dropping the youths into the river. Mr. Shiner who was leading the service was not amused, but the local onlookers enjoyed a great joke.
• In May 1901 the church decided to build its first parking area. A three stall stable was erected at the rear of the church, the cost was eleven pounds and sixteen shillings. At this time Rev. Barry was the joint pastor of Rangiora and Kaiapoi Baptist Churches. To enable him to travel more easily a pony was purchased for 4 pounds.
• In 1917 a fund was started with the aim of buying Pastor Jones a motorcycle, and in the same year electric lights were installed in the church.
• In 1925 Rev. Vickery was welcomed to the church, he later went on to be a long-serving Mayor of the town. In the same year the church purchased its first manse in Fuller Street. A meeting in 1925 was called to discuss the means of transport for the minister, members agreed that the purchase of a horse and trap was not the ‘best form of conveyance’ and it was agreed to purchase a car for forty pounds. The Baptists caused a real stir around the same time when a sermon title was publicized in a pamphlet distributed around the town. The title read, “The Three Men in Kaiapoi who will be in Hell’. Quite a lot of local men thought they were going to be named.
• At the AGM in September 1947 the Kaiapoi Church gave notice to the Rangiora Church that they would be leaving the circuit system and becoming a self-supporting church.
• The war years caused some difficulties as the church had to be blacked out during evening services and because of this many of the older folk did not attend.
• Church records from the early 1940’s record some interesting progress. A piped water supply was organised, the old pump and wood fired copper was done away with, taps were installed in the kitchen and over the baptistry, and an immersion heater was purchased to warm the water in the baptistry.
• In 1951 the old Sunday school hall was extended by the addition of an ex-army building. Working bees resulted in a big new hall with a kitchen at the back. At the same time the 1st Kaiapoi Boys Brigade was started and at a later date Girls Brigade also commenced. The Brigades were a significant part of the ministry of the church for many years.
• Regular early morning prayer meetings were held during these years in the little vestry behind the church building. “At 6 am we biked through the streets and in the darkness made our way into the church, where we would find two or three shadowy figures already kneeling on old copies of ‘The Baptist’, handed out as people arrived. As we prayed, others slipped in and together we asked God to deal with us and to send revival.”
• Mission is a regular feature in the story of Kaiapoi Baptist Church; missions in the local community, special events for children, activities, camps, youth services for young people, and campaigns catering for adults all feature down the years. Overseas mission was also always important. The Solomon Islands became a major focus for this church, starting in 1956 when Edgar and Dorothy Pollard left Kaiapoi for missionary work in this island nation. Numbers of other people from the church also served there over the ensuing years.
• It became clear in the early 1970’s that the much loved old wooden building had become too small for the work being done, and that a new building was required for the work and witness to continue. Working bees and fundraising became very significant activities and on completion, the new buildings were opened with great celebration.
• Kaiapoi Baptist Church has always had an outward looking focus, and in the 1980’s discussions about new initiatives in ministry to the community led to the formation of the Person to Person Help Trust. The manse behind the church was converted for use as a child care centre. In the beginning it relied greatly on volunteer labour, but over the years grew into a fully licenced and registered Early Childhood centre.
Our People are a diverse bunch covering many ages, stages, ethnicities, and cultures. All are welcome at our gatherings and our many midweek programs.
Our Pastoral team are embarking on a journey of co-leadership. It is exciting, full of opportunity and also a challenge. The synergies of team and shared responsibility open up all manner of opportunities, and allow staff to drive areas of passion, flavour other areas and collaboratively share pastoral care, preaching and teaching and vision. We are just beginning to dip our toes into this adventure but are looking forward to seeing this co-leadership model thrive!