Service to farewell community church

The Thornbury Presbyterian Church will be decommissioned next week.

ALTHOUGH the Thornbury Presbyterian Church will soon be demolished, its 150 years of memories will continue with the congregation attending services at Isla Bank and Waimatuku Presbyterian churches.

Church member Annette Horrell said because of the state of the building and ongoing maintenance issues, the church was now past its use-by date and would soon be demolished.

Built on the corner of Foster and Limestone Plains Rds in 1903, it replaced another church from further along Limestone Plains Rd which was built in 1867, she said.

“This was also due to that church needing extensive repairs, so it was abandoned.”

When the church faced closure in 1981 because of the state of the building, a local builder, Jack McKenzie, rebuilt it with help from most of the families in the area, Mrs Horrell said.

“Two-thirds of it was pulled down and rebuilt.

“This time around, it is the same story – a lack of maintenance and disrepair.”

However, Mrs Horrell stressed that only the church was closing, not the parish.

Thornbury Presbyterian Church members (from left) Kathleen Hancox, Annette Horrell and Jill Linscott look for family members’ names on the church’s Sunday School “Cradle Roll” from decades past.

Because of the age and state of the building, combined with the declining church attendance, the decision to close the church and sell the property was made by the Limestone Plains Parish.

“We were reluctant… but it was decided we would close. There is not the same community support as in the 80s.”

Mrs Horrell said it had been “very emotional”, and the decision had not been taken lightly.

“I have been coming here all my life… I was born here, baptised and married here.

“And the generations before me also came to this church.”

The parish would remain and church members would be able to attend services at Isla Bank and Waimatuku Presbyterian churches, she said.

“Because there are three churches in the parish, the congregation attend them on a rota, which had been in place since 1927 when the church changed from being part of the original Riverton Parish to the Limestone Plains Parish.”

Mrs Horrell said “in the early days a travelling minister used to journey from Riverton”.

The church had a rich history, having served generations of families.

“It was well used by the community, when there were more people in the town. There were quite a few weddings before 1981 when the church was in its original form.”

As well as the usual Easter services, baptisms, weddings and funerals, other celebrations were also held such as harvest festivals, spring flower shows, and sometimes a Christmas Eve service.

A closing and decommissioning service will be held on Sunday, November 26, 2pm. Anyone who has had a connection with the church or the Limestone Plains/Western Southland parish are invited to attend in the church at 87 Foster Rd, Thornbury. An afternoon tea will be held after the service at the Thornbury Bowling Club pavilion opposite.



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