In 1863 the first Baptist church in Otago/Southland was established at Hanover Street, Dunedin. From there a cottage meeting and then a preaching station began in Caversham, the oldest of Dunedin’s southern suburbs. This soon outgrew its rented hall and in 1870 construction of a church building on the current site commenced. It remained affiliated with Hanover Street until 1873 when it was constituted a church in its own right. The inaugural minister was New Zealand’s first Baptist minister, the Rev Decimus Dolamore, who had previously served in the upper South Island.

From Caversham Baptist Church several other churches were established along with a myriad of different community ministries including New Zealand’s first Boys and Girls Brigade companies. Over the years ministers and outreaches have come and gone but it seems ‘The more things change, the more they stay the same.’ The following are excerpts from the 60th and 100th Caversham anniversary booklets that apply equally well to all churches in 2023, just as they did 90 and 50 years ago to those serving in Caversham:

Looking back over the sixty years of its work, the (Caversham) Church has much reason for thanksgiving; but a Church cannot live on its memories. The call of the present is the call to greater effort, and more zealous service… the Church is faced, in common with all other Churches, with perils greater than she has yet confronted… If the Church hears the clarion call… she will find the infinite resources of God working in her… Let her watchword be “Excelsior!”

 A.S. Adams 1933

People matter most. We must beware of the world squeezing us into its mould of projects and progress. Care for people as persons who need love, hope and fulfilment in life is the focal task of those who follow Jesus. I believe God calls us as a Church to be a group of caring, compassionate, serving Christians involved in our community. Only then will the salvation He intends all men to know be seen and experienced, May God’s Spirit enable us to be worthy of our forbears, but even more worthy of the privileges and responsibilities of our own day.

 Rev B Albiston 1973

This year Caversham Baptist Church is celebrating its 150th year. We invite all past and present people associated with the church to join us as we thank God for the past, pray for strength for today and ask for wisdom for the future. The anniversary will be celebrated on the weekend of 16-17 September, 2023. For registration information please email [email protected] or phone 03 455 8566 during office hours.

Photo: Supplied by Sandra Gordon – The old church building 1876

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