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Auckland 140 Celebrations

Auckland 140 Celebrations

Auckland City Corps celebrated 140 years of ministry in New Zealand over the Easter weekend, with ‘remembering’ on Good Friday, ‘celebrating’ on Holy Saturday and ‘looking forward’ on Resurrection Sunday.

Chief Secretary Colonel Gerry Walker and Captain Kristine Walker (rtd) were the guest leaders at the weekend, as Auckland City Corps was the very first Salvation Army corps they attended.

On Friday there was a service in the morning, with Brent Daly talking about the history of the corps over the past 140 years.

Saturday was all about celebrating, with an exciting family evening including a quiz and light meal.

Easter Sunday morning service was a time of celebrating the resurrection of Christ. In the evening, there was a metro meeting, with preaching from Gerry, with Auckland-wide corps in attendance to celebrate what God is doing in the city of Auckland.

There were contributions from other corps in the form of cultural dances, poi performance and ukulele group worship. There were also updates on missional outreaches happening in other corps in Auckland.

Auckland City Corps (previously Auckland Congress Hall) was the second corps  to open in New Zealand in 1883. With the first open-air meeting on the corner of Albert and Victoria Streets, Auckland City Corps has since been at a few different buildings over 140 years.

Their first site was the ‘barracks’ in Albert Street from 1884 to 1923. The building was subsequently condemned and the corps moved to a building next to the Auckland Town Hall which became the new corps centre in 1928. Then, there was a move to Queens Street. Finally, the big move out of the city to Allright Place, Mt Wellington took place and this is where the corps currently meets.

With home league, theatre group, Auckland Congress Hall Band, songsters, tape ministry and even congregational members doing bonnet adjustments, there was no shortage of activity over the 140 years at Auckland Congress Hall.

Raewyn and Mark Christiansen come from a long line of Salvationists, and both serve in the corps. Raewyn is second generation in the corps and serves as the children’s and family worker, the early childhood liaison person and is on the leadership team. Mark is a third generation Salvationist at Auckland City Corps and has been serving as the bandmaster for 20 years.

Mark’s musical talents were passed down from his family, particularly his grandfather and father who both played in the Congress Hall band.

Raewyn and Mark feel privileged to come from a long line of Salvationists, but it can also be a huge responsibility to keep the legacy going for future generations.

‘There are challenges to try and continue that legacy that’s been left before us, not only by our parents but the older people in the congregation who have been there for years, and just doing what they can do to keep the Army alive and relevant,’ said Mark.

A lot has changed in the life of Auckland City Corps in 140 years. Raewyn recalls having open air meetings on Friday nights, but today it’s a lot more difficult to meet in public as you need a permit from the city council. Also, Auckland has become more multicultural over time, which has meant a diverse congregation with differing needs.

Covid-19 also changed the way people view church, and so Auckland City Corps is constantly adapting to what people need in the current landscape.

Reflecting on 140 years, Mark emphasised, ‘You can’t always look back. You can’t always do anything about what’s happened in history. You’ve got to move forward and make your own history, but just remembering those who have been before us’.

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