Temperance and Prohibition in New Zealand
(3) The Congregational Church
(3) The Congregational Church
The Congregational Churches of New Zealand have made a valuable contribution to the temperance and Prohibition movement in New Zealand. They have done the work in the way of supplying outstanding leaders in the movement rather than in the way of organized work on the part of the churches as a whole.
The names of Joseph Newman and Wesley Spragg at once occur as Congregationalists who page 159 took a foremost part in the establishment of temperance societies in the Auckland District. Mr. Spragg is fortunately still with us and taking a very keen interest in the Prohibition movement. For more than fifty years he has been an outstanding leader in the work. He served as president of the New Zealand Alliance for the years 1908 to 1914. His wise counsels and his generous contributions have been great factors in the progress of the movement, and a great inspiration to his fellow workers.
Sir George Fowlds, a leading Congregationalist, also of Auckland, and also happily still alive, must be included in any list of members of the denomination who have been of signal service to the Prohibition cause. In addition to his personal generous financial support, he has in company with Mr. Spragg exerted most valuable influence in obtaining large support to the finances of the movement. It is, however, as a recognized leader, an influential and trusted public man, a wise counsellor, ready at all times to serve, that his value has been felt.
Mr. J. W. Jago, of Dunedin, was for many years one of the foremost champions of the work in New Zealand. He was associated with some of the pioneers of temperance in Glasgow, Scotland, as a young man, and carried his enthusiasm for the cause with him to New Zealand, where he continued to work steadfastly throughout a long life.
Mr. H. G. Maunder, of New Plymouth, was a notable worker and merits remembrance for the persistence with which he urged the need for temperance teaching in our public schools.
During the past forty years, many of the ministers of the Denomination have borne an honoured part in the fight for Prohibition. Without minimizing the work of others, the name of the Rev. page 160 W. H. J. Miller stands forth as that of an earnest and effective fighter for the great reform. His two ministries in New Zealand were exercised at Onehunga and Napier, and in both towns temperance sentiment was greatly promoted by his continuous activity. His fiery eloquence was responsible for winning converts and stimulating workers in many parts of New Zealand. His death at a comparatively early age was a great loss, not only to Prohibition, but to the cause of righteousness in New Zealand. The Rev. Lionel B. Fletcher, of Auckland, by his forceful and impassioned advocacy of Prohibition, is maintaining the splendid traditions of the Congregational Church.