In The Beginning
Under the encouragement of the Baptist Union, the pastor of the Napier Baptist Church (J.K. Archer) started afternoon meetings in Hastings with several Baptist families with the first service being held on Sunday May 2, 1909. By the end of the year, Hastings Baptist Church was formally constituted on December 29 with a membership of 28.
Land was purchased, the first pastor (H.B. Hughes) called, and a building erected – all by June 1910.
The congregation grew rapidly over the next 15 years under the ministry of four pastors to a membership just below 200 - with the building being enlarged during the time of H.E. Edridge. Five pastors served the church during the depression and war years of the 1930s and 40s, while the population of Hastings was growing gradually the membership remained largely static.
The Church building survived the 1931 earthquake relatively undamaged. Rev. Nicholls wrote about his experience of the earthquake and its effect on Hastings for the NZ Baptist The Earthquake: Story of the Tragedy - March 1931.
In 1949 N.R Wood became the pastor. During the 9 years of his ministry the church grew by 50%. Following this, the next pastor (D. Rogers) oversaw the construction of the present auditorium which was built alongside the old church in 1964. The church’s growth paralleled growth in the population of Hastings, with the population more than doubling between 1945 and 1975. It was in the midst of this population growth that the church peaked in its membership in 1976 with a resident membership of 326.
1960 to 1980 saw the church served by three pastors with the church slowly growing over these two decades. The Sycamore Place was built by the men of the church over several years in the early 1970s and was used as a Day Care Centre for pre-schoolers until 1997. The Baptist Youth Centre was purchased in 2005.
A church planting work began in Flaxmere in 1980 – a work significantly connected and financially supported by the Hastings Church over the next 20 years. Another church planting mission was started in 1985 with a number of families being commissioned to plant what would become Village Baptist in Havelock North.
During P. Eaton’s ministry (1987-1993) significant building projects were undertaken with the old church being pulled down and the offices, lounge and kitchen being added in 1989 and the hall in 1991. However, the years 1981 to 1999 saw only one pastor with a ministry over 3 years and those short pastorates paralleled years of slow but steady decline.
The New Millennium
In October 1999, Paul Davison began his ministry as pastor. The congregation celebrated its centenary year in 2009, rejoicing in 100 years of Christian witness and service in Hastings through this church and its members.
An account of the centenary celebration weekend can be found here: Centenary Celebration.