New Zealand Conference

Report in the 1908 Magazine

Transcription of Article published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by Rev. J. Cocker

THE Conference this year was held in Dunedin, the principal town in the Otago province. It is a Scottish town and a stronghold of Presbyterianism, nevertheless our Church has made considerable progress in the city, the Dundas Street property probably being the finest we possess in the Dominion.

The Conference handbook contained the names of ninety-nine delegates, but a few of these were unable to attend.

The Rev. J. Olphert was unanimously elected President. He has been a minister of the Church for nineteen years. His great-grandfather was the Rev. James Renwick, one of John Wesley’s first preachers. The father of the president was a city missionary in Liverpool, and his cousin, the Rev. Joseph Olphert, is a well-known Wesleyan Methodist minister in London at the present time.

Mr. Charles Rudd was unanimously elected Vice-President. The name of Rudd is well-known in Primitive Methodism both in New Zealand and Yorkshire. His mother was the sister of the Rev. Jeremiah Dodsworth, who was famed as a preacher and author some years ago. The Vice-President is a man greatly respected and has occupied many public positions. As a local preacher his ministry is much appreciated both by our own and other churches.

During the Connexional year for the first time in the history of our Church in the Dominion, District meetings had been held, and much of the detail work which usually came before Conference had already been done and more time was given to other questions.


On Thursday evening the Rev. James Flanagan preached the Conference Sermon in the Dundas Street Church, which was crowded to listen to the famous evangelist. The subject was “The Holy Mount of Prayer.” It was an utterance which will long be remembered. Rapt was the attention of the audience and the good Spirit of God moved upon our hearts.


The Rev. C. E. Ward, the retiring President, delivered his address on the Friday morning; it was an able utterance and took about one hour and a quarter to deliver. It was well received by the Conference and it was decided to print it in the “New Zealand Primitive Methodist.”


Much pleasure was expressed at the presence of the Rev. J. Flanagan and the following resolution was passed:

“That we record our pleasure in having with us at this Conference, the Rev. James Flanagan. We are grateful to our Heavenly Father that He has brought him in safety to our shores, and that the Divine approval has been already placed upon his labours. His presence at this Conference has been very helpful to us, and has added greatly to its enjoyment. We trust that his labours among us will be as richly owned of God as in the Old Land, and that our brother will be spared for many years to continue the work to which he has so unreservedly given his strength.”


The Rev. A. Harding, who had arrived from England during the year as an exchange with the Rev. R. Hall, received a very hearty welcome to the Dominion.


The Rev. E. Warburton applied for superannuation, and the following resolution was passed:

“That the application of the Rev. Ernest Warburton for superannuation be received and approved, and that this Conference places on record its high appreciation of the noble and self-sacrificing service which he has rendered to the Church of Jesus Christ, and to our own Church in particular, and expresses its deep regret that he can no longer continue in the active work of the ministry, which he loved with so great a passion.”


The Rev. J. Cocker was given permission to visit the Homeland and was appointed ministerial delegate to the English Conference, and Mr. H. Holland, of Christ Church, was appointed lay representative.


For some time Sunday School work has not been making satisfactory progress in the denominations in the colony, some having reported decreases. We only reported an increase of ten teachers and eleven scholars. A special committee was appointed to meet during the year to consider how to increase the efficiency of the Sunday Schools.

During the year the schools sent £18 12s. 6½d. to the funds of the English Orphanage.

A Sunday School agent was appointed in each district, such agent to report annually to each District Meeting on the state of the schools he may have visited.


The subject of Methodist Union was introduced by resolutions sent from the Otago and Southland District Meeting.

The following resolution, proposed by Mr. C.E. Bellringer, seconded by Mr. D. Goldie, was ultimately adopted:
“That we affirm our desire for union with the Methodist Church in New Zealand on such a basis as may be made by reasonable mutual concession and compromise. At the same time we are of the opinion that to endeavour at the present time to formulate a basis that would meet with acceptance and consummate a full and happy union would be futile until the day arrives when it shall be possible for the churches to discuss the matter untrammelled by Australian influences, and to unite in framing a Methodist Church for the Dominion, enjoying complete self government, and thus prepare the way for the union of the Evangelical Churches in a national church; and further, that in view of the special circumstances and the Centenary efforts now being made, it would be unwise to disturb our people by submitting the question of union to them at this juncture.” The amendment was carried by thirty-nine to thirteen votes.

It is probable that some considerable time will elapse before the matter is again discussed.


The following are the statistics for the year:

Ministers     .   .   .   .      39

Circuit Missionaries     1

Home Missionaries .    4

Local Preachers . . . 173

Class Leaders . . . .      58     Increase   5

Church Members  2,882   Increase 60

Deaths . . .    . . .                17

Sunday Schools.

Schools . . .   . . .              83    Increase 1

Teachers. . .  . . .            613    Increase 10

Church Members . . 500   Decrease 7

Scholars  . . .   . . .     5,442  Increase 11

Attendance—morning 371  Increase 17 

            afternoon  3,630 Decrease  47

Members under 14   462   Increase 42

Members over 14 .    479    Increase 4

Bands of Hope . . .         37

Juvenile Abstainers 4,349   Increase 50

Adult Abstainers. . .   1,747  Decrease 122

Books in Libraries      9,770

Income . . .   . . .         £1,222   5    6

Balance in hand      £ 301      1  

School Property (not build-
ings)    . . .   . . .            £1,079    4   6


Churches . . .   . . .             75 Increase 4

Other preaching places 89

Houses  . . .    . . .               41 Increase 1

Hearers . . .    . . .         9,972

Total cost . . .  . . .       £62,613   12   3

Present value . . .  . . . 73,269   11  2

Insured for  . . .   . . .     32,165    0   0

Debt at present . . .  . .17,835   12  3

Gross Income . . .   . . .   4,658  18  9


The various funds were found to be in a healthy state.

On behalf of the Home Mission Fund about £560 had been raised.

The Parsonage Furnishing Fund was valued at £2,031.

The “New Zealand Primitive Methodist,” of which the Rev. J. Cocker is editor, showed a profit balance of £56. The amount was voted to the Home Mission Fund.


It was decided that the term District Synod be adopted instead of District Meeting for the annual meetings of each district in the Dominion.

The President of the Conference is ex officio a member of the District Synod within the bounds of which sub-district he resides. Each superannuated minister is ex officio a member of the District Synod within the bounds of which sub-district he resides.

We deem that rule 418, page 90, Consolidated Minutes, 1902, providing that an eligible layman may act as a vice-delegate to a ministerial delegate to the District Synods and Conference, does not apply to New Zealand.

For purposes of representation to the District Synods and Conference, a home missionary shall be deemed to have the status of a ministerial representative.

The public meetings were numerous and were well attended. The presence of the Rev. J. Flanagan as a speaker gave additional interest to the gatherings and his addresses will be long remembered. His missions in the colony have already been productive of much good. The Conference gatherings have increased the interest in his work.

During the sittings of Conference a beautifully illuminated address was presented to Mr. David Goldie as a mark of appreciation of his work as District Secretary for close upon twenty years.

The Conference showed that the Church in the Dominion is making progress.


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1908/392

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