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Ashley Bank was an outpost of the Rangiora United Free Methodists, and its members commenced monthly services in 1876. In 1884 a small church was erected. This has since been demolished.
A church was built at Ashley in 1872, the trustees being the Rev. William Hogg, James Anderson, and David Carr. The Rev. Hogg had arrived in Kaiapoi just after the Rev. Kirton had been appointed there, so he was given the rest of North Canterbury as his charge, later having a manse near Sefton. The building is no longer there.
The foundation stone for the Ashley Bank church of St Simon and St Jude was laid on 28 October 1870. It was the first church of a new parish, the headquarters of which were to be situated at Fernside. Charles Pemberton donated the land and Benjamin W Mountfort designed the building. C W Mountfort designed an addition of one bay to the nave in 1884.
Regular services were held in the church until 1966. In 1973, a group of local residents stopped the church from being demolished after Church authorities had deemed it surplus to requirements, and the Historic Places Trust considered the church to have little historic or architectural value. However, it was discovered that it was a Mountfort designed church, lending further credence to the residents campaign. A tender for the church from a buyer who wanted to re-use the kauri had been accepted, but the residents protested and bought the building for $1000. Once purchased, the group set about restoring it and mounting it on concrete piles.
Today non-denominational services are held with occasional weddings and baptisms. In recent years an annual fete has been held to raise funds for the building’s upkeep.
St Simon and St Jude is now Category II on the Historic Places Trust Register.
St Andrew’s Church was opened on 26 October 1890, built by Forbes and Wadey of Rangiora. The land was given by the Carmichael family. The minister during the first five years was the Rev. R Tout. At first the parish was part of the Sefton charge but since 1895, it has been with Rangiora.
The final service in the church was held in December 2006.
Built by Irish settlers in Loburn to a Mountfort design, St Brigid’s was opened on 31 May 1875. St Brigid is co-patron with St Patrick of Ireland.
St Brigid’s is one of very few Catholic churches in the Christchurch diocese with its own cemetery – possibly a factor in ensuring the survival of the church itself.
The little St Martin’s Anglican church was built in 1891 on land that had been purchased in 1878. Prior to that, the local Anglicans most likely attended services in Rangiora or were invited to the Mount Thomas homestead. The one-room weatherboard structure is an extremely modest low-church building. Renovations were made during 1988-89.
A church had been built at Leithfield sometime after 1876 when a Mr Armitage was appointed to the district. Because of declining support, this church was shifted to Pembertons Road in Sefton in 1886, where the Methodists had formerly used the school for their meetings. This building was replaced by a brick church that opened on 3 October 1931. About 1976, an agreement was reached with the Sefton Anglicans to take over this brick church when vacated by the Methodists.
The Sunday School Hall was shifted to the Woodend Methodist Church, and the brick church was later sold into private ownership and converted into a dwelling.
The first denomination to hold services in Sefton was the Presbyterians, no doubt to cater for the many pioneers from Scotland. St Luke’s present church was built in 1905 and officially opened on 11 March 1906. It replaced a wooden church built in 1873 and the old building then became used as a Sunday school until its demolition in the 1930s. The parish itself was established in 1866 when the Rev. William Hogg was the Minister for the area between Kaiapoi and the Clarence River. He lived in Sefton.
St Michael and All Angels was built about 1870, and held services until 1976. An agreement was reached with the Methodists for the Anglicans to take over their brick church across the road. This brick church was later sold and is now a private residence.
Hawkins, D N - The Various Methodist Churches. Rangiora & Districts Early Records Society, July 2002 Newsletter.
Beyond Waters Reach. Sefton School Centennial Celebrations 1984.