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The New Zealand Evangelist

Local Religious Intelligence

Local Religious Intelligence.

The Chatham Islands.—German Mission.—

The Chatham Islands lie in 43° S. lat. and in 177° W. long. They are nearly due east from Bank's Peninsula, and are about the same distance from Wellington as Otago is. There is one large island, and several smaller ones around, some two of which are inhabited. The number of natives is about 500; one half of them aborigines; the other half natives of this island, who a number of years ago proceeded thither, attacked and conquered the original inhabitants, and reduced the remains of them to a sort of modified slavery, in which they still hold them. The New Zealanders or Maories call the aborigines of the Chatham Islands Paraiwhara, or “Black-fellows,” a slang term they have learned from the whalers, who had previously applied it to them. We are rather surprised that Bishop Selwyn could not discover the meaning of this word, as he states in his last published journal. There are a few white settlers on these islands. The natives cultivate potatoes, wheat, and other productions; keep pigs, and are obtaining cattle from the settlers; but their distance from any regular market, and their little intercourse with the colonists, damps their activity in producing exports.

The Gosner Missionary Society of Berlin has had a settlement in the Chatham Islands for the last page 318 seven years. This Society takes its name from the Rev. Dr. Gosner, an eminent Evangelical Minister of Berlin, who has been the principal originator and conductor of this Association. It has sent forth about 60 or 70 Missionaries to India, Africa, the West Indies, Australia, the South Seas, and the Chatham Islands. The Mission in the Chatham Islands consists of the Rev. F. F. A. Schirrmeister, and four lay assistants. The assistants are all mechanics, and they support themselves principally by their own exertions. The whole of them live in one establishment. Three of the brethren are married. As the most of the natives belong either to the Church of England or the Wesleyan Missions, the Germans endeavour to promote their improvement, not so much by preaching to them or by teaching them, as by exhibiting before them a well regulated Christian establishment; and so far as they come in contact, training them to Christian practice. Their mechanical operations have greatly benefitted the natives. They have erected a wind-mill for grinding wheat, and are anxious to have a small vessel built with which to carry on a trade with the different adjoining settlements in New Zealand. They met with so much opposition from the natives for a long time, that they proposed to leave these islands and to proceed somewhere else; but as the natives have become more favourable towards them of late, they will most likely continue on the Chatham Islands, for the present at least. May the Lord protect, bless, and prosper them, and all similar disinterested benefactors of their race!

For practical convenience, we believe, they regulate their time by ours; but as we are in the 175° E. long., and they are in 177° W. long., on strict geographical principles, the Sabbath and other days with them should begin only a little more than half an hour before ours is ended. Our young readers will try to understand the reason of this.

Opening of the New Wesleyan Chapel., Manners Street.—

It is well known that by the page 319 disastrons visitation of the earthquakes, of October 1848, the Chapel formerly occupied by the Wesleyan Methodists, was completely destroyed. Various circumstances which need not be detailed, conspired to prevent its re-erection, and it was not before the 10th and 11th of February, 1850, that the new and beautiful building was duly opened for the purposes of public worship.

On the occasion of its consecration to the worship of God Almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the following religious services were held. On the Lord's day morning, at 7 o'clock, a meeting for prayer was held, and the place “Sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” In the forenoon at 11 o'clock, the first public service was held, and conducted by the Rev. J. Watkin; the congregation was good the feeling of gratitude in many breasts intense; the sermon was upon 2 Cor. ii. chap. 14–16 v. In the afternoon at 3 o'clock, the Rev. John Aldred conducted public worship, and preached from the Saviour's words recorded John, vii. chap. 37, 38 v. In the evening the Rev. J. Inglis, of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, occupied the pulpit and preached to a large congregation, from 2 Cor. iv. chap. 5 v. On the following morning Mr. Woodward, Independent Minister, officiated. In the evening a public meeting was held and well attended; the pecuniary proceeds of the two days amounted to the sum of £51 2s. 1 1/2d. The receipts from all sources are above £700; the expenditure hitherto slightly exceeds that sum; there are some subscriptions to be collected, and there are outstanding claims which will augment that sum considerably. There are several things still wanted to make the Chapel complete, and which will be procured as fast as means will allow. Those actively engaged in promoting the erection say “Ebenezer,” Hitherto the Lord hath helped us. Praise the Lord. Pray for the prosperity of Jerusalem; they shall prosper that love thee.

Church of Scotland.—

The Rev. W. Kirton, late of the Chapel of Ease, Roslin, has been appointed page 320 by the Colonial Committee of the Church of Scotland to their congregation in this place. Mr. Kirton, with his wife and family, sailed from London in the Berkshire, and arrived here in the Woodstock, from Nelson, on the 17th ult. On Sabbath last he commenced his labours with much acceptance.

We are happy to congratulate the members and adherents of the Established Church of Scotland in having thus secured among them the services of a stated pastor; and our earnest prayer is, that Mr. Kirton's ministry may be eminently successful in advancing pure and undefiled religion in his own congregation, and that he may prove a blessing to the entire community.