Some time ago I read the book “God knows where they come from” about the lives of four church leaders from different denominations, who all grew up in Hokitika on the West Coast. There’s the Anglican, the Methodist,
the Presbyterian, and the Catholic. Even though in the middle of the 20th century, the different denominations often kept apart, there was some
co-operation and the beginning of the ecumenical movement.
Ted Schroder, the Anglican, had quite some influence in Hokitika as a young man, when he was active in youth Bible studies and in organising speakers. He was even the supply minister for the Presbyterian Church for a few months. He later went to England, where he was a curate to the famous Anglican Evangelical preacher and writer John Stott. Ted Schroder later moved to the USA, where he became the rector of some Episcopalian
mega- churches, as well as a writer.
Alan Davidson, the Presbyterian, has mainly become known as the pre-eminent scholar of New Zealand Church history. In that position, he also taught at St John’s College in Auckland, an Anglican institution. He has probably researched more about Anglicans than Presbyterians, but always remained an ordained Presbyterian minister.
Richard Waugh, the Methodist, also was ordained as a relatively young man. He was encouraged into the ministry by Max Hornblow – a cousin of Thelma Parsonson. After serving in several Methodist Churches, Richard Waugh was instrumental in setting up the Wesleyan Methodist Church of New Zealand, after the Methodist Church dealt harshly with any dissenters to the decision to ordain people in homosexual relationships. He was the President of the Wesleyan Methodist Church for several years. Richard Waugh is also well known in aviation circles and as a local community leader.
Steve Lowe, the Catholic, is now the Bishop of Hamilton. He felt the call to the priesthood while he was living and working in Timaru. Later on, he returned to Timaru North as the parish priest.
After further studies in Rome, he became the Formation Director at the Holy Cross Seminary in Auckland, before his appointment as bishop.
It is exciting to read about the upbringing in a little West Coast town, where all the boys were fostered in their faith. Once they left the Coast their journeys diverged significantly. For all the Protestants,
the theological and ideological battles of the last forty years left their scars. Interestingly, they all had different positions. All had difficulties adjusting to the direction their denomination took. Just from reading these biographies it is clear that the effect on individuals and on the church as a whole was dramatic. But all held to their faith and sought God.
I only know two of the leaders personally. But I feel as if I had gotten to know them and the others more.