Home' Greymouth Star : February 8th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
Saturday, February 8, 2014 - 7
Faith of our Fathers:
Old West Coast churches
It is almost 69 years ago, on March 11,
1945, that the Presbyterian moderator
general assembly Mr T C Brash
and minister T A Campbell laid the
foundation stone for St Andrew 's
Church, in Cobden.
In 1971 it became the Uniting Church after
Cobden Methodists stopped crossing the Grey
River to St Paul's Church, in Greymouth, and
were instead invited by the local Presbyterians to
share a place of worship.
e need for a Presbyterian church in the
riverside suburb was first discussed at a service
in Greymouth in 1944, when the Rev T G
Campbell stressed the need for a branch across
the river and deputised two Cobden elders,
A A Gunn and O W Eastwood, to explore the
ey secured use of the Cobden School
gymnasium for fortnightly services and then
went about building up a congregation. Circulars
were delivered to every house in the suburb and,
when the first service was held on February 14,
with Mrs White as pianist, 115 people attended.
It was decided that such encouraging support
warranted the construction of a church and the
Rev Campbell, with church elders O Eastwood,
J Tennent and F Anderson searched Cobden
for a suitable site, settling on one in Fox Street
owned by Mrs E Barlow.
is was followed by a visit from the Rev D N
McDiarmid, missions director at Greymouth,
and a member of the church extension committee
who recommended that the Centenary Fund
Board grant £500 toward the church and
undertook to meet the interest on any mortgage
that the Cobden parish raised to finish the work.
Builder, L B Davenport, got the contract for the
work, while J S Nimmo donated the first pound
to the building fund and paid the last mortgage
instalment to ensure the church open debt free.
Another Cobden resident, Bob Uddstrom, built
the chairs to seat the congregation.
Another church member, Mr Duncan, made
the seating for the Sunday School because the
congregation had expanded so quickly, and soon
it was necessary to transfer a large builder's shed
from the Greymouth High School grounds to
the rear of the hall to accommodate the children.
To commemorate the first ser vice the
congregation carried a white cross up Cobden
Hill and this still stands as a sentinel above the
Lynette Heine remembers the old church well.
"It was the joy of our childhood in a lot of ways,
a real community hub," Mrs Heine said.
"Being a hall church, we kids would go down
early and set up the chairs, the fathers would light
the open fires and we would roll out the carpet
and bring out the tables.
"It was also used by the kindergarten, Plunket
and in later years, the toy library was set up in the
little front rooms."
In the early days the ministers were on loan
from St John's, in Greymouth, but in the 1960s
" en we got our own ministers for Cobden-
Runanga --- Mr Bibby, Bill Best, Keith Weavers
and Tom Nalder --- he was a delight. In the early
days we also had deaconesses like Sister Silvia
Jenkins," a nostalgic Mrs Heine said.
e church hall had many uses in its heyday.
"We had the most wonderful bazaars in those
days, no health and safety rules then --- we could
throw balls at china and things that could break.
e men would make wonderful wooden toys
for sale. Dave Ewen would make wee bassinets
and his wife would dress them up. Every little
girl would hang out for one of Dave's bassinets in
Church concerts brought out previously
undiscovered talent, with many young
parishioners starring in productions.
"During the 1960s, when Ian and Betty
Hudson were part of the congregation, Betty was
the Sunday School superintendent and would
arrange these fantastic concerts," Mrs Heine said.
"Mrs Brownie Taylor (Brownie, because she
taught brownies) was the musician, playing the
piano and a little pump organ. ey really were
wonderful times in that little church."
It is fitting then, that the building which
ser ved Cobden so well continues to play a big
community role in its reincarnation as the
Scenicland Preschool. When current owners
Steve and Lynette Crestani purchased the hall
in 1999 the group acting on behalf of the church
were grateful that it would still benefit Cobden's
young, and it will do so for many years yet.
St Andrew 's Church stalwart Ozzie
Eastwood penned this poem above the
Cobden cross on the hill after it was
erected by the Bible Club members of the
On a Cobden hill there stands a cross,
for all the world to see.
It's only an ordinary wooden cross,
but what does it mean to me?
On the bare hill it stands out plain,
and towers out o'er the sea.
It seems to remind me of One who died,
A Saviour for you and me.
Sometimes it stands out bright and clear,
Bringing a measure of hope.
Hope for the world that lies below,
For me and other folk.
And at times a mist descends on the hill
and it shuts out from my sight,
But I know that it's there, in spite of
e sign of my Maker's might.
When the sun sheds its dying ray, and
lightens the cross with gold.
I feel His presence with me still, and the
knowledge it makes me hold.
Perhaps on a clear bright moonlight eve,
e cross appears in view.
It teaches me He's always near,
What does it mean to you?
Is it just a simple cross of wood,
Or the sign of a promise true?
Can you sense a feeling of wonder there,
What does it mean to you?
So raise your eyes to the cross this day,
You'll find there something new.
e outstretched arms are beckoning now,
He's waiting there for you.
A white cross that shines like a beacon over Cobden, and a
hall in Fox Street that now serves as a preschool are all that
remain of the old St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, but this
little house of worship still looms large in the memories of
former parishioners, as TUI BROMLEY reports.
Happy times at St Andrew 's Presbyterian Church, when parishioners
Dave and Iris Nimmo (nee Hayes) tied the knot on January 3, 1963. e
wedding party is Jimmy Grant, left, Lindsay Nimmo, Dave Nimmo, Iris
Hayes, Ruth McLaughlan (Christchurch) and Eila Henderson
Guests gathered outside St Andrew's Church for the Nimmo wedding in 1963.
St Andrew's, Cobden
e interior of Scenicland Preschool and Nursery today.
St Andrew's today as the Scenicland Preschool and Nursery.
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