Vicar of Waipaoa says farewell

TO EVERY THING THERE IS A SEASON: Having held her last service at Waerenga-a-Hika’s St Luke’s Church last Sunday, Reverend Joan Edmundson and her family are preparing to move south where Joan will take up the role of vicar at the Anglican parish of Central Hawke’s Bay. Picture by Rebecca Grunwell

GISBORNE oranges and Waerenga a Hika sunsets are miracles, said Reverend Joan Edmundson.

The Waipaoa Anglican Parish vicar’s appreciation of similar marvels, such as home-grown passionfruit on her porridge, and nearby Waihirere Domain has sharpened with her imminent departure.

“I never find saying goodbye easy, particularly not to a community where our family has lived for more than 14 years,” she said in a farewell message to her parish.

Joan held her last service at Waerenga a Hika’s St Luke’s Church on Sunday, February 4. She, husband Andrew Gordon and sons David and Alistair relocate next week to Waipukurau. Among the animals they have taken with them is Peachy the cat, Australian terrier cross Ferris and various tropical fish.

From Thursday, Joan will be the new vicar at the Anglican parish of Central Hawke’s Bay, based around Waipawa and Waipukurau.

“Having Waihirere Domain on our back doorstep has been such a treat for us all, especially David and Alistair. When they were little we sometimes took them up in the evening to look at the glow-worms. As they grew older, they spent a lot of time up there exploring on their own.”

Now grown up, David is heading for a third year at university while Alistair has signed on with the New Zealand Army.

Among Joan’s parish memories is the “daisy game” played in Bible in School classes. It is like hangman but because Joan is opposed to capital punishment, students filled in the flowers of a daisy instead.

Dressed in gladwrap

There was the bus trip to Rotorua when the parish bus broke down and everyone stumbled into a 24-hour McDonald’s in Taupo after midnight. Members of a stag party were having a late-night feed at the time and among them was a bloke dressed entirely in gladwrap.

“Everyone suddenly woke up!”

“I remember that enormous branch off the Jutland oak crashing down on the driveway, just after Andrew and Alistair had driven down it.

“I remember reviewing a planned sermon on Saturday night and thinking ‘that just won’t do’.

“I remember going into the church early on Sunday morning and thinking ‘I know where I am’.”

Most of all she remembers the people she has closely worked with over the years, she says. Vestry members have had the opportunity to observe her at close quarters, “warts and all”, and remained supportive.

She feels privileged to have conducted funerals for former vestry members and friends Ian White, Sue Ford and Rene Robertson.

“All of them strong, faithful, real people I am so glad to have had the opportunity to know well.”

During her time as Waipaoa Anglican Parish vicar, Joan saw the “sad but realistic” decision in 2012 to close the St Barnabas Anglican Church at Makaraka. The cost of earthquake repair and strengthening was prohibitive.

Deconsecration of St Barnabas was the final step before the demolition process, but prayers to save the “pretty little church” were answered by a private investor. The church still stands.

Christmas miracle

Its reprieve was nothing short of a Christmas miracle, Joan said.

Some might call Andrew and Alistair’s close call with the two-tonne branch that fell off the massive American oak, planted to celebrate the Battle of Jutland in World War 1, a miracle as well.

Because it was so close to St Luke’s Anglican Church, the 99-year-old oak, which suffered from internal rot, posed a risk to the historic building and had to be cut down.

The tree didn’t go without leaving a legacy, though. It dropped “about a million acorns” every year so Joan invited people to collect an acorn or two so “we could have a million grandchildren of Jutland oak dotted around the place”.

Timber from the old oak was used in the creation of a bell-cote for the St Luke’s Anglican Church bell the family of former Gisborne Mayor John Clarke had restored in memory of his mother, Joan Clarke.

Brought up in Christchurch, Joan studied law and practised for about nine years but in response to a consistent “prod in my back”, she chose to follow a different path and went on to spend three years at St John’s Theological College in Auckland.

After she was ordained she served as curate of two parishes before becoming vicar of Waimate Parish in South Canterbury. This was where her great-great-grandfather opened the town’s first general store in the 1850s and where her mother grew up.

Joan married Andrew in Waimate and their sons were born there. Andrew completed a fine arts degree at Canterbury University in 1982 and taught at Waimate High School for several years. He later worked full-time in Waimate as a painter and stone carver and exhibited his work in Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Gisborne.

On moving to Gisborne in 2003, Joan replaced Rev Margaret Bradley at St Luke’s and became the second woman vicar to take up residence at the historic church.

In 2007 Andrew designed and carved from laminated totara heartwood a four-metre-high work to commemorate the Waerenga a Hika mission station. The mission station was based across the road from St Luke’s Church on the Waerenga a Hika straight from 1857 to 1865.

Joan is grateful for her memories of her time as Waipaoa Anglican Parish vicar.

“I know you have helped me grow in faith,” she said.

“I trust I am now more the person God intends me to be than I was when I arrived.”

GISBORNE oranges and Waerenga a Hika sunsets are miracles, said Reverend Joan Edmundson.

The Waipaoa Anglican Parish vicar’s appreciation of similar marvels, such as home-grown passionfruit on her porridge, and nearby Waihirere Domain has sharpened with her imminent departure.

“I never find saying goodbye easy, particularly not to a community where our family has lived for more than 14 years,” she said in a farewell message to her parish.

Joan held her last service at Waerenga a Hika’s St Luke’s Church on Sunday, February 4. She, husband Andrew Gordon and sons David and Alistair relocate next week to Waipukurau. Among the animals they have taken with them is Peachy the cat, Australian terrier cross Ferris and various tropical fish.

From Thursday, Joan will be the new vicar at the Anglican parish of Central Hawke’s Bay, based around Waipawa and Waipukurau.

“Having Waihirere Domain on our back doorstep has been such a treat for us all, especially David and Alistair. When they were little we sometimes took them up in the evening to look at the glow-worms. As they grew older, they spent a lot of time up there exploring on their own.”

Now grown up, David is heading for a third year at university while Alistair has signed on with the New Zealand Army.

Among Joan’s parish memories is the “daisy game” played in Bible in School classes. It is like hangman but because Joan is opposed to capital punishment, students filled in the flowers of a daisy instead.

Dressed in gladwrap

There was the bus trip to Rotorua when the parish bus broke down and everyone stumbled into a 24-hour McDonald’s in Taupo after midnight. Members of a stag party were having a late-night feed at the time and among them was a bloke dressed entirely in gladwrap.

“Everyone suddenly woke up!”

“I remember that enormous branch off the Jutland oak crashing down on the driveway, just after Andrew and Alistair had driven down it.

“I remember reviewing a planned sermon on Saturday night and thinking ‘that just won’t do’.

“I remember going into the church early on Sunday morning and thinking ‘I know where I am’.”

Most of all she remembers the people she has closely worked with over the years, she says. Vestry members have had the opportunity to observe her at close quarters, “warts and all”, and remained supportive.

She feels privileged to have conducted funerals for former vestry members and friends Ian White, Sue Ford and Rene Robertson.

“All of them strong, faithful, real people I am so glad to have had the opportunity to know well.”

During her time as Waipaoa Anglican Parish vicar, Joan saw the “sad but realistic” decision in 2012 to close the St Barnabas Anglican Church at Makaraka. The cost of earthquake repair and strengthening was prohibitive.

Deconsecration of St Barnabas was the final step before the demolition process, but prayers to save the “pretty little church” were answered by a private investor. The church still stands.

Christmas miracle

Its reprieve was nothing short of a Christmas miracle, Joan said.

Some might call Andrew and Alistair’s close call with the two-tonne branch that fell off the massive American oak, planted to celebrate the Battle of Jutland in World War 1, a miracle as well.

Because it was so close to St Luke’s Anglican Church, the 99-year-old oak, which suffered from internal rot, posed a risk to the historic building and had to be cut down.

The tree didn’t go without leaving a legacy, though. It dropped “about a million acorns” every year so Joan invited people to collect an acorn or two so “we could have a million grandchildren of Jutland oak dotted around the place”.

Timber from the old oak was used in the creation of a bell-cote for the St Luke’s Anglican Church bell the family of former Gisborne Mayor John Clarke had restored in memory of his mother, Joan Clarke.

Brought up in Christchurch, Joan studied law and practised for about nine years but in response to a consistent “prod in my back”, she chose to follow a different path and went on to spend three years at St John’s Theological College in Auckland.

After she was ordained she served as curate of two parishes before becoming vicar of Waimate Parish in South Canterbury. This was where her great-great-grandfather opened the town’s first general store in the 1850s and where her mother grew up.

Joan married Andrew in Waimate and their sons were born there. Andrew completed a fine arts degree at Canterbury University in 1982 and taught at Waimate High School for several years. He later worked full-time in Waimate as a painter and stone carver and exhibited his work in Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Gisborne.

On moving to Gisborne in 2003, Joan replaced Rev Margaret Bradley at St Luke’s and became the second woman vicar to take up residence at the historic church.

In 2007 Andrew designed and carved from laminated totara heartwood a four-metre-high work to commemorate the Waerenga a Hika mission station. The mission station was based across the road from St Luke’s Church on the Waerenga a Hika straight from 1857 to 1865.

Joan is grateful for her memories of her time as Waipaoa Anglican Parish vicar.

“I know you have helped me grow in faith,” she said.

“I trust I am now more the person God intends me to be than I was when I arrived.”

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Christine Allan-Johns - 5 months ago
Bless you Joan. You have been a great priest in this area. Every blessing as you move on.

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