Monday, January 17, 2011

St Francis Lutheran Church, Mauriceville West


St Francis Lutheran Church stands on a rise above Mauriceville West Road and dates from 1957. The church was recently repainted, is immaculate, and looks well cared for and much loved. It sits among historic gravesites and overlooks the gently rolling hills of Mauriceville West.










The picture that hangs above the altar is a print of a painting by Carl Bloch of Christ with his hand on the head of a small boy.


The simple, clean lines of the church interior.

Labour and equipment for the repainting of the church was donated by congregational members, their families and a member of the local Wairarapa Scandinavian Club.  Financial assistance toward materials was also received from the Scandinavian Club and the local Mauriceville Kopuaranga Fair Committee.







History
During the1870s large numbers of Scandinavians from Denmark, Norway and Sweden emigrated to the northern Wairarapa as part of a Government scheme to clear the forty-mile bush. Many of the Danish families settled at Mauriceville West. Despite considerable hardship and poverty they began building the original church at Mauriceville West in 1882 and it was dedicated by Danish-born Pastor Jørgen Johansen Sass on 24 August 1884.

Interior of the original church, taken in the 1950s (Bennett Iorns)
The original Mauriceville West church, photographed during the 1950s. (Bennett Iorns)

The original church was of a typical Danish country church design, reminiscent of the large stepped towers of Danish country churches, designed to provide a place of refuge for the community in case of hostile invasion.

Typical Danish country church


The Cyclopedia of New Zealand, 1897, noted
Mauriceville Lutheran Church is a handsome wooden building standing on an eminence in Mauriceville West. Accommodation is provided for about 200 worshippers. Services are held weekly. The Rev. Mads Christensen is the minister in charge.
Unfortunately the original church deteriorated and was demolished and the present church built in 1957, using voluntary labour and donated materials. The altar rails, the picture of Christ from above the altar and sacred vessels from the old church were incorporated in the new church.

Today
Although the congregation is small (10-12 families) they meet regularly, in both the church and sometimes in their homes.

A service is held on the third Sunday of each month, at 3 pm.

St Francis Lutheran Church is in Mauriceville West Road, Mauriceville, 20 km north of Masterton (map).

Contact information is available here.

Sources:
Steen Olsen, Danish Lutherans in New Zealand, 1866-1958
Lutheran Church Newsletter, The Olive Tree, May 2010
Wairarapa Archives
Cyclopedia of New Zealand, 1897
George Conrad Peterson, Forest Homes: Scandinavian settlements in New Zealand
St Francis Lutheran Church, Mauriceville West

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