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Temperance and Prohibition in New Zealand

(5) Associated Churches of Christ

(5) Associated Churches of Christ

It needs little courage to-day in any of the above Churches to advocate the Prohibition of the liquor traffic though that has not always been the case, despite the fact that from the earliest days of the Association, a keen interest was taken in the educational work, and especially so amongst the young people.

With the coming of one of our evangelists from the United State, S. W. Houchins, who, I believe, was one of the earliest speakers, if not the earliest, in New Zealand, for National Prohibition, a deeper interest began to be manifested in this question.

Running through the early history, I find the names of M. W. Green, Charles Watt, T. J. Bull, and F. G. Greenwood, men who, in their prime, were men who had to be reckoned with. Away in Sunny Nelson the battle raged between Prohibitionists and State Controllers. The name of J. J. Franklyn stands out prominently in debate and lecture work.

Undoubtedly, the interest taken in the movement by the Churches is due to the fact that the Band of Hope played a very conspicuous part in the life of the young folk. There have been many bands page 163 that have had fine records, but the honour must certainly go to the Christian Standard Band of Hope, Auckland, that, for forty years, has kept going, with Mr. E. A. Perkins as secretary for thirty-eight years. What that has meant for the cause of temperance, only those who work at the job can really appreciate. It is no little boast our Auckland Band makes when it claims to have provided in Sir William Fox the first president of the New Zealand Alliance. Honoured names associated are those of the late W. J. McDermott and the late John L. Scott, for many years a pastor of Ponsonby Road Church. Realizing that co-operation with all those of like mind meant advancement for the cause, we welcomed such fellowships, apart altogether from creed or caste. Sufficient for us to know that the ultimate object was the banishment of strong drink. The late Frank Isitt once said, ‘If all the Churches had stood so loyally to “No-License” as the Churches of Christ, the cause would have been won long ago.’ That may or may not be so, but we are certainly proud that in the early days we had men in our ranks like R. A. Wright, now the Hon. R. A. Wright, and other equally honourable men, who stood nobly by their principles right through the darkest days of persecution and terrorism by the liquor men, and that the younger men of to-day are no less determined and heroic, not forgetting the many splendid women represented by Mrs. Duxfield, of Wanganui.

In the early days of this movement there were some amongst our business men who held bottle licenses with their provision businesses, but, realizing as they did, how inconsistent it was, they gladly and willingly made the sacrifice. Amongst such was the late A. F. Turner, who later gave his page 164 life to the ministry of the Word loved and respected by all.

Naturally, the question of observing the communion came up, but an examination of the Word of God showed that there was no necessity whatever to use fermented wines, and it soon became the custom to use the fruit of the vine unfermented, as a true symbol of the life's blood of the Saviour, and what is true of our churches in New Zealand, is true throughout the world.