February 20: The Presbyterian Church of New Zealand

A Presbyterian Remnant Remains True to the Gospel
by Rev. David T. Myers

The story line was surprising and sorrowful at the same time. Written just last year, it told the story of the dying Presbyterian Church of New Zealand which had decided to attract new members with an approach  of “drinking  to the Gospel,” as they called it. Many churches of this main line Presbyterian Church down under were adding outreaches entitled “wine  and theology” and “beer and barbecue” to their schedules. It wasn’t always this way in this Presbyterian church.

The beginning of the Presbyterian Church in New Zealand began on February 20, 1840 when the Rev. John Macfarlane of the Church of Scotland arrived in Port Nicholson, Wellington. The Scottish minister became the church planter of the first Scots church four years later in the area.  Even when the disruption occurred in during this same time period, it took a little time for that to reach the new country. Eventually it did however, and ministers from the Free Church of Scotland arrived to minister to the Scottish people residing in the land. In fact, whole groups of families from the Free Presbyterian church began to arrive in country, along with their pastors. A Presbyterian Church true to the gospel was being established in  New Zealand.

Fast forward to the mid-sixties. The Presbyterian Church had grown strong and numerous. Twenty four Presbyteries dotted the land, with 446 parishes, 806 church buildings, ninety thousand plus members, over 70,000 Sunday school pupils, and 20,000 Bible class students. But numbers can be deceiving as well, so it was in this decade that the church was falling into apostasy.  Individual churches began to “come out and be separate,” until 2000, a fully fledged denomination started called Grace Presbyterian Church of New Zealand was organized.

According to its web page, it describes itself as “Presbyterian in government, Reformed in theology, and Evangelical in spirit.”  It states fully that it is a “national Presbyterian Church that holds strongly to the Bible as its rule of faith and life,” with a passion for God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and a passion for people.”  That means, the web site says, “that we seek to bring glory to God and be aware of where  he is leading through His Word and Holy Spirit.”  Further, it translates out as being “dedicated to proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who are lost, both here in New Zealand and elsewhere.” In addition, they as a church are “fully committed to the Reformed faith as the most consistent presentation and outworking of Biblical Christianity.” They take their stand for life in the womb and for marriage between a man and a woman.

Words to Live By:
If you are like this author, you must acknowledge that you had no idea that a faithful Presbyterian remnant for the gospel was existing in this South Pacific nation. At the same time, you are thankful for even small beginnings which seeks to be faithful to the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Why not pray today, and if you are a pastor, pray from the pulpit and/or Sunday School desk for Grace Presbyterian Church of New Zealand, that they will remain faithful to the Scriptures, the Reformed Faith, and the Great Commission?

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