The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 20
The revolution of another year calls upon us to lay before you our Annual Report of the state of the Congregation, spiritually and financially—of work undertaken and done. In the review of the year we are met on the one hand by mercies which require devout acknowledgments, and on the other by changes and occurrences which remind us of life's uncertainty, and the necessity of improving our opportunities of learning and doing.
In carrying on the spiritual affairs of the Congregation the Session held twenty meetings during the year; received into fellowship thirty-six by certificate, and thirty-six by examination—in all forming a goodly addition to the membership and the working strength of the Church. The Communion was dispensed quarterly, and the average number of Communicants was over four hundred.
It is desirable that Members on changing their residence, would leave their address with their former Elder or the Church Officer, as otherwise they are apt to be overlooked in the distribution of Communion Cards, which the Elders hope to render effective.
It is with great regret that the Session reports that Messrs Street and Smith have resigned their Eldership in the Congregation.
While the Session have pleasure in reporting that the attendance on Public Worship is well maintained, they observe, in respect of the Evening Service, a slackness on the part of several families. Aware that there may be sufficient reasons for this, they hope that none will reckon among these the increased facilities for Sabbath travelling which the Port Chalmers Railway affords.
The Prayer Meeting.
For a part of the year the attendance on the Prayer Meeting was highly encouraging. Here, week by week, prayers are offered for the sick, the tempted, and the young, and in general for all Church work and objects. The Session record with pleasure that a fair proportion of These who attend give assistance in the service. After conference with the Deacons, they recommend, with a view to meet the circumstances of many members, that the hour of meeting be altered from seven o'clock to half-past seven p.m.
The Sabbath Schools.
The Church Sabbath School, under the care of Mr Street and his noble staff of Teachers, more than maintains its ground—having the large attendance of upwards of four hundred. The spiritual work done from Sabbath to Sabbath can only be appreciated by The se who are conversant with school operations. While prominence is given to direct Scriptural teaching, the children are encouraged to store their memories with choice Psalms and Hymns, and lessons of faith and duty. The fact that the religious instruction of our Public Schools is now, from the religious divisions of the people, necessarily limited to little more than the reading of the Scriptures, is a loud call to the churches to increase the efficiency of the Sabbath School. The Session have learned with much pleasure that the Sabbath School Teachers of the Church meet from time to time not only for prayer but also for conversation on the School lessons, and the best means of imparting their knowledge of the Gospel.
The Pelichet Bay Sabbath School.
This School continues to prosper under the zealous care of Mr Grant and his unwearied assistants. The attendance at this school is 45. The Minister has borne frequent testimony to the value of the Christian service to the children of the Church and the Gospel by our Sabbath Schools—and we join with him in commending them to your prayers and sympathies.
The Bible Class
Meets in the Class-room every Sabbath morning at ten o'clock. The ugh this institution, like the Church itself, is subject to change—the older pupils giving place to younger ones—the average attendance is still maintained. In the lessons of the class the Minister keeps steadily in view the end of all Christian instruction, the conversion of the Scholars, their growth in sacred knowledge; with a view to Church Membership and service in the diffusion of the Gospel. Appreciating the importance of this class as mid-way between the Sabbath School and Church work, the Session would earnestly exhort parents to encourage their sons and daughters to join it.
The Missionary Association.
This society reported at its annual meeting contributions to the amount of £108 9s for the spread of the Gospel. Its nourishing condition is due, under God, to the devotedness of Mrs Glasgow and the Collectors. At the Annual Meeting there was a general wish that the Synod should take a warmer interest in the spiritual condition of our Maories. The Minister took care to convey this page 6 wish to the Synod, and he reports that the Ministers adjacent to the Maori settlements have been instructed to do their utmost for their spiritual necessities. Members of the Congregation interested in missions, are reminded that Missionary intelligence is communicated at the Prayer Meetings held on the first Thursday of each month. Missionary publications can be obtained through the members of the Committee.
Mr Francis, the Precentor, devotes an evening every week during six months in the year to give instruction in Sacred Music to Members of the Congregation. The Session would urge our young people to avail themselves of the class, with a view to the still greater improvement of our service of song. They gladly acknowledge the heartiness of our Congregational singing. The Session and Deacons' Court gladly acknowledge a contribution of £10, through Mrs R. Gillies and friends, towards purchasing music for the Choir.
The Young Men's Association.
This Society meets in the class-room on every alternate Wednesday, at half-past seven o'clock p.m., during its session. Its objects are the improvement of the Members by the delivery and criticism of original essays, discussions, readings, recitations, and the cultivation of friendly feelings among the members. The Session recommend it to the young men of the Congregation.
Election of Deacons.
At a Congregational Meeting held on the 21st May, 1872, a resolution was passed requesting the Session to take into consideration the advisability of one third of the Deacons retiring annually. At a meeting of the Session held on the 4th June, the Session having considered the said resolution, the Deacons concurring, unanimously resolved that the number of Deacons be forthwith increased to fifteen, it being understood that one-half of the present Deacons retire by lot in twelve months, and the remaining half the following year, subject to the retiring members being eligible for reelection.
Accordingly the following gentlemen were elected to the Deaconship, viz.—William Baird, The mas Cassells, Adam Johnston, James T. Mackerras, and Charles McQueen.
The change above referred to will necessitate an annual election of Deacons to fill the place of those who retire by effluxion of time.
The Deacons' Court held twenty-four meetings during the year.
Funds of the Church.
The sum contributed by the Church for all purposes during the year amounts to £1,572 5s. 4d., being £22 8s 5d in excess of last year.
Through some accident, The ugh the amount actually raised for the Sustentation Fund is above that of 1871—yet that reported is two guineas under.
The special collections show that the Congregation has a heart for objects not especially Congregational.
There are Libraries in connection with the Sabbath Schools which are extensively used. The Church Library, rich in history, biography, philosophy, poetry, and practical divinity, is open every Thursday evening at the close of the Prayer Meeting, and is free to the Members of the Congregation. Mr Glasgow, assisted by Mr Dalglish attends to issue books. The Deacons' Court have to repeat the hope that a plan may be devised whereby the Catalogue of the Library may be periodically enlarged.
This Scholarship, held by John Ferguson, expires after another year. It will remain for the friends of the higher education to decide whether they will renew it for the encouragement of young men studying for the Ministry.
The Relief Fund.
The Congregational collection to this fund amounted to the handsome sum of £5-1 15s. 5d., for which the Deacons' Court feels thankful.
There is still a balance in hand which will enable the Court to afford some relief until the next annual Collection falls due.