By Margaret Holt
11 October 2022
From humble beginnings in 1947, when early services were held in the local state school and later, in a converted army hut, the people of St Matthew’s Ashburton recently celebrated their 75 years as a parish in fine style and with thanks to God.
Their story of survival spans the explosive growth of the parish in the early years as it bore Christian witness in its local community, the threat of closure in the first decade of this century, times of being nurtured by some wonderful local vicars. It includes the embracing, 10 years ago, of the arrival of the congregation of the Church of South India, meeting at the church. The successful cooperation of the two congregations has been to the enrichment of all.
Read more: South Indian church celebrates 10 years in Anglican home
The celebrations lasted a little over a week, beginning with a spit-roast dinner, followed by a special evening service led by the Vicar Reverend Kurian Peter on St Matthew’s Day. They culminated the following Sunday on 25 September with the congregations combining for a service of Holy Communion with Archbishop Philip Freier as chief celebrant and his wife, Mrs Joy Freier, amongst the honoured guests.
A history booklet named “Let Your Light Shine” authored by Margaret Holt was introduced by the author herself and was launched. Dr Graeme Blackman AO, president of the Victorian Council of Churches received the first copy from the archbishop. Executive secretary to the archbishop Ken Hutton rendered instrumental music, and children of the junior choir sang a beautiful song. Mrs Freier, Dr Blackman, and Ashok John Varkey spoke on the occasion. Everyone enjoyed a community meal together after the service.