Thames Anglican Parish
Location of Saint Georges Church
Welcome to Saint Georges Thames. A remnant of the Goldfields of the Coromandel Peninsula, Saint Georges Thames stands as a witness to a time when Thames was bigger than Auckland, supplied the Auckland province with food! and had around 30,000 people living and working in the borough. Today the church is open Monday - Friday 9am - 5pm, and Saturday Mornings.
One of the fifty volunteers from the inspire group (named after the fact that Saint Georges is the only church in Thames with a Spire) is on duty to welcome visitors and to explain the beauty and specific features of this 19th century wooden gothic building - probably the best wooden gothic church still in regular use as a parish church in New Zealand.
The Thames Anglican Parish was established in 1865 as a Pakeha unit. For half a dozen decades before that a Maori Anglican Church, enabled by the Church Missionary Society (CMS) was active, established in the gold fields. In fact an early ordination to the diaconate of a local Maori leader was the first ordination in the district.
The first Saint Georges church was built in Rolleston Street, on land gifted by Chief Taipari, in 1865. Quickly it proved too small a gathering place for three Sunday services and plans were underway to built the new Saint Georges which opened in 1872.
The much larger Saint Georges, based on the Gothic stone European churches, has been a central feature of the town ever since. ~ the spire rising above the Central Business District and visible by land and sea for miles. In fact the only church spire in the town, Saint Georges has given that name to the daily hosting rota of women and men who as a group are on duty half a day a month each to ensure that there is a welcome for visitors, tourists and seekers alike.
The Thames Anglican Parish holds an inclusive ministry of serving Christ in prayer, action and worship. Theologically moderate its leadership tends towards liberal in an otherwise Christian evangelical/fundamentalist faith expression in the religious community. Websites that feed and nourish the leadership and ministry support group are:
So the focus of the church's practical life is to empower seekers, to encourage a questioning growth following the Anglican process where scripture, story and reason are all engaged in study workgroups and sharing opportunities in the exchange of faith.
Saint George's Church 600 MacKay Street, Thames, New Zealand
|The light, airiness you experience when entering Saint Georges church is a stark contrast to similar Victorian buildings in New Zealand and overseas. Lack of clutter, natural inviting furnishings and an atmosphere enhanced by the nave sanctuary installed in 1984 make for a sense of approachableness and openness. The High Altar (a Memorial for those from the parish who perished in the Great War) presides over the building in the Chapel area (formerly communions, small funerals and weddings). The high sanctuary itself and been altered twice over the years. Stained glass windows after the French style contrast with more sedate memorial windows at the West end donating Saint George and Baptism in memory of the first vicar Vicesimus Lush (1865 - 1881). Lush was instrumental in the construction of the new Saint Georges and oversaw much of the construction from his personal residence opposite.|
The church doubles as a performing arts centre with the nave sanctuary furnishings removable to provide a space large enough to accommodate a 70 piece orchestral, staging a full-length musical by the Saint Georges Players or visiting international soloists and locals in concert. The Thames music Group uses the church as the venue for its twice monthly concerts and recitals and has done so for 20 years.
The screen in the storage cabinet as you enter by the south-west ramp is a memorial to Canon Tom Hancock who retired to Thames after a distinctive ministry as a bush brother in outback Australia, a hospital chaplain in ground-breaking times, theologian and academic who dies in 1988 after 13 years of active retirement on the Thames Coast. The batik panels represent the seven sacraments and are the work of Waikato artist Anne Carter Jones who was a parishioner in the 80s and 90s and active in the life of the parish. The Advent panels, in a colourful acrylic representation of the bird and animal life of the Peninsula set against the lush background of the native plant life, are the work of Waikato artist Mary Valiant and were executed in the mid-90s. They're on show in the advent and Christmas.
Churches have traditionally sponsored the arts. Much of the carving in furniture, as well as construction work, seeks to provide a forum for excellence in design and interpretation.