Maybe for the first time in history, an uncouth rabble of cussing pirates has even been invited into a church, and this unprecedented event actually happened in New Brighton today. St Faiths Anglican Church’s Rev Katrina Hil said it was a gamble, but they were not to bring cannons or pillage the newly opened building in Hawke St.
It was risky for the pirates as well as the street is named after Baron Hawke an English admiral and later First Lord of the Admiralty in the Royal Navy and not a great fan of pirates.
Yet the pirates turned out to be well behaved apart from some hearty singing and revealing no shortage of musical ability. Rev Katrina says inviting the pirates was not a way to get cheap rum but a reflection of the inclusiveness of St Faiths for all people, and it was not just about worship, as community groups will use part of the church, and another section has been set aside for visitors.
Today was the opening day of the new revamped St Faiths Church and there were plenty of people to observe the classic interior and learn something about the history. One guest present was Coast Councillor Celeste Donovan who says she is impressed by the amazing workmanship but also the incredible amount of volunteer restoration work, and believes his will be another New Brighton attraction everybody should see (Ms Donovan is pictured with her former counterpart from this area David Close, who served as City Councillor from 1977 to 2001 under at least three mayors, and in a second photo with the Rev Katrina Hill and volunteers).
One couple present at the opening were Leoan (nee Austin) who married Gary Flintoft in 1957 in St Faiths (and their twins baptised in the old font), both still going strong after 63 years of marriage and really impressed with the new lease of life for the church.
On display in the back end of the church now converted into a very comfortable meeting place for local groups, is a very large bible. A bible big enough to tether and elephant, but a beautifully crafted example of a family bible dating back to the previous owners (see below)
Uriah Hurrell and Christiana Rider on top of the family register inserted into the bible with the handwritten records of their marriage in 1848 and subsequent baptism of their children. This bible has come with a pioneer family member from Devon in England to New Zealand.
For those interested in history, when you visit (as you should), the stained-glass window on the north wall depicts the martyrdom of St Faith, subjected to a horrible death in the small town of Aquitaine in the southwest of France by an enemy of the Christians.
Also to see is the fine oak pulpit and lectern dating back to the 1920s, and a series of 14 photographs depicting the journey of Jesus to the crucifixion site and a crucifix (a cross with the figure of Christ on it more likely to be found in a Catholic than an Anglican church) on the wall.
Plenty to admire about the interior, plenty to admire with the contribution St Faiths makes to our Coastal community and the sound of good old swear-free sea shanties along with hymns.