In this Place, from this Place: St Luke’s Presbyterian Church, Remuera–Newmarket, 1875 – 2022, by Allan Davidson. Book review.
This is a marvellous book that encapsulates so much about not just St Luke’s Church but also about Remuera’s history.
Fourteen men, meeting in the Newmarket School on 24 September 1874, agreed to establish a Presbyterian Church in Remuera. A site in Remuera Road was bought for £220 where St Luke’s is still located. The first church building was a Congregational Church from the corner of Remuera Rd and Orakei Rd (488 Remuera Rd) which was removed to its current site at 130 Remuera Rd in 1875.
The book illustrates the move of the church from stern Scottish authoritarianism to being an inclusive community over 147 years.
It covers many key Remuera people- James Young Stevenson, George Monro St Luke’s first minister, David Dingwall and his sister Sarah Dingwall, Elon Bond, the Tizard family, Sister Grace Entrican, Cecil James Tocker, William Fletcher and his brother Sir James Fletcher, Calder Mackay, Warwick Smeeton, Kerry and Jill Stotter, the two David Clarks: St Luke’s Rev David John Clark, minister 1988-2012 and Hon Dr David Scott Clark, Assistant Minister 1997-2000 and MP for Dunedin. Biographies are included of many of the men and women who have served St Luke’s over the years, from ministers and elders to women who led the social outreach and often the pastoral care for women, children, youth and young adults. James and William Fletcher made the construction of the new church in 1930-31 possible during the Depression of the 1930s by their presence and influence.
St Luke’s has always had a strong musical tradition from the very beginning to today with the purchase of its organ in 1883 from Bryson Brothers and Ellis of London for £300 and the setting up of a choir. The 140 year old organ was restored in 2020-22.
St Luke’s was involved with setting up some of the earliest sports groups in Remuera and Auckland. It played a significant part in the beginnings of basketball / netball in New Zealand with its first games in 1906 and its participation in the founding of the Auckland Basketball Association in 1908. Founded in 1913 the St Luke’s hockey club was very successful in its games and outreach with its Christian young men playing at Mt Hobson Park where Dilworth Junior Campus is now sited. It was one of the strongest clubs in Auckland from the 1960s to 1980s then joined forces with the Albertian Mangere and Seddon Hockey clubs in 1987 to become known as SLAM.
The church has also fielded clubs and sport teams for tennis, table tennis, seven a side rugby, swimming, cricket, football, Indoor bowls and badminton.
The opening of the Community Centre in 1984 was significant – it aimed to be inclusive, progressive, innovative, diverse, with outreach and liberal programmes. The name of The Community of St Luke was adopted to embrace the work of the Church and the Community Centre.
The Centre through its community workers/ directors successfully engaged with a diverse range of people through its courses, facilities, and counselling services and was a significant expression of outreach. It’s 2008 Vision Statement aspired “To be a community recognised as much for depth of relationships, openness to experience and engagement with issues of justice, as for the rigour and quality of its theology.” It included the rise of women to be more than “bringers of a plate” to being significant fundraisers, Elders and parish councillors, and the recognition of sexual identity with the appointment of its first gay minister David Clark.
Also significant in the parish was pastoral care, creating a community network which served it well during Covid19 lockdowns with meetings by Zoom and YouTube.
The Community of St Luke’s has thrived with an emphasis on worship, hospitality, compassion, love, justice, inclusion, openness and service. Its three main pillars of mission are now progressive theology, and inter-faith engagements, social justice and music
This well-written and researched book embraces a wide-ranging account of the people of St Luke’s Church who have led the Community of St Luke to have a unique place in Remuera’s history.
Allan Davidson ONZM, is an historian, experienced author, and Presbyterian minister. His many publications reflect his passion for New Zealand and Pacific church history, his ecumenical commitment and his collaborative approach.
The author has been a member at St Luke’s since 1995 and has fully participated in its life. In this place, his life has enriched, his theology challenged and stretched, good friends made and generous hospitality experienced. This book has been a labour of love for the Community of St Luke.
Print publication: Dec 2022
Illustrations: 126 (52 colour)
Print RRP: $50.00 p&p extra
Copies available from either:
St Luke’s Presbyterian Church, 130 Remuera Road. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or by mail order from Dorothy Butler Bookshop: https://bit.ly/3AmyRzh