Church celebrates with festival

The 60th celebrations of iconic pink church of St Stephen’s Ashburton are this weekend.
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The congregation of St Stephen’s are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the iconic ‘pink church’ this weekend, and everyone’s invited.

The church, on Park Street in Ashburton, was officially opened on June 22, 1963. It was built alongside the historic old church built in 1875, which was demolished.

The two days of celebrations start on Saturday with a 60s-themed community festival day from 11am to 3pm.

Anglican Parish of Ashburton vicar Indrea Alexander, left, and church administrator Marion Jacobson in front of The Ascension stained glass window in the church nave and with some of the robes on display during St Stephen’s church 60th celebrations.

There will be guided tours of the church, a free lunchtime sausage sizzle, videos on show with historic photographs and memorabilia, information on the Christian faith and the life of the church, as well as 60s era vehicles, and rock ‘n’ roll dancing displays.

On Sunday there is a celebration church service and free pot-planned lunch for worshippers.

People are also being encouraged to dress in 60s era clothing over the weekend.

Anglican Parish of Ashburton vicar Indrea Alexander said the celebration was belated because at the time of the 50th, the building needed quake strengthening.

‘‘People are really welcome, there are people who have never been in, they’ve been past but never been in.

‘‘This is the opportunity, the doors will be open,’’ she said.

‘‘We’re hoping people will come and enjoy exploring the church, have a look at the displays.’’

There will be people on site to answer questions, especially on key areas such as the stained glass windows and the stories behind them.

One such window is in the church nave above the altar.

It is a stained glass window titled ‘The Ascension’. It was in memory of men who gave their lives in World War 1 from 1914 to 1918.

The window was proposed by vicar of the time Reverend Wright at the 1919 annual general meeting, and dedicated on August 5, 1923.

It cost just over £878, the equivalent of nearly $15,500 today.

All of the money was raised by the parish.

Another feature includes the church’s intimate side chapel which holds around 30 people.

It was designed to be strongly reminiscent of the previous church, Indrea said.

It has glass windows and wood panelling which were part of the old church built on the grounds in 1875. It was demolished following its last service on June 16, 1963.

St Stephen’s Church on Park Street in Ashburton.

The new ‘pink’ church – reportedly a pinker shade than it is now – had its first service six days later on June

22. There are plaques around the church and grounds heralding its history and extensions such as the administration, hall and facilities.

The church still has a regular congregation of around 60 people, but can swell during seasons such as Christmas and Easter.

Church administrator Marion Jacobson said people had registered for the 60th celebrations from outside the district as well as across Mid Canterbury, many had a long association with the church. Some were even there at the church change over.

Special guests include Bishop Peter Carrell who will be on hand at Sunday’s celebration church service during the festival eucharist. The service starts at 10am and will be followed by lunch for worshippers.

Over the weekend there will also be a the cutting of a cake, baked by a parishioner, and featuring a picture of the original church alongside the new church, and the St Stephen’s Choir will perform hymns of old.

This month Parishioners have been giving away ‘30 cakes in 30 days’ as part of their 60th celebrations.So far cakes have been delivered to Plunket, Salvation Army Family Store, St Vincent de Paul opportunity shop, Ashburton Hospital laboratory Chris Ruth Trust and Hospice Mid Canterbury.