All Saints’ Church: A Brief History
Anglican worship has been conducted on the present site for 140 years. The present All Saints’ Church is the third on the site and was completed just over 100 years ago – in mid-1914. The interior was transformed in the 1960s. The previous 1882 church had been moved to the rear of the site, and served as a hall until it was destroyed by arson in 2007. The adjoining Memorial Hall was built as the parish’s World War II memorial. They were both replaced by the present Community Centre, completed in 2011.
The current interior of All Saints’ Church, with its familiar carvings, stained glass and organ, has been in place for the past 50 years, providing a setting for church services, weddings, funerals, civic events, diocesan ordinations and synod services, musical performances and a variety of other events. Several generations of Palmerston North citizens have been served by this building. But, at the end of 2012, the parish was told that the building only met 3% of the National Building Code, and the decision was made, with sadness, to vacate the building, which was last used on Easter Sunday in 2013.
All Saints’ Church has also served as a memorial church, and this included a number of memorials associated with World War I. It was, until recently, the repository for the colours of the Wellington Regiment – a World War I regiment that drew its members from the old Wellington Province. Another memorial commemorated its commander, Colonel William Malone, who died at Gallipoli. Although originally from Stratford, his connection with the Wellington Regiment made All Saints’ Church a logical place for his memorial. More unusually, there is also a memorial in the church to women killed in active service in World War I: surely a unique memorial for a New Zealand church.
Another memorial in the church is to George Snelson, the first mayor of Palmerston North, and a life-long parishioner.
But All Saints’ Church has always been more than the building or its memorials: it is a building for the present, and a building for people. Regular services on Sunday and during the week have reflected the most traditional of Anglican worship, and also more contemporary and informal styles. Ministries for children, for youth, for the needy and for the elderly have always been part of the church’s programme, and continue to be part of present-day operations – even though the building itself is now closed.
All Saints’ Church has served Palmerston North and its population for over 140 years and looks forward to continuing in this role for many years to come. A living community, a living building, and a living faith have always been part of the church’s role, and this will continue with a strengthened and enhanced church for the future.