A history of the Oxford Terrace Baptist Church

In 1862, the Rev. Decimus Dolamore was invited to Christchurch and he was the pastor for Baptist services that took place in the Town Hall. Differences of religious views divided the membership, but later the “Strict and Particular” united with “General” Baptists in the beginning of 1871.

Baptist Church, Oxford Terrace, Christchurch [ca. 1885]
In the late 1870s,  the congregation of the  needed more space. A half-acre section was purchased on the corner of Oxford Terrace and Madras Street in October 1878 for £1,325. A competition to design the new church was held in 1881. Eight designs were submitted. The prize went to local architect Mr E.J. Saunders. Tenders were considered too high and the plans were pruned. In September 1881 the lowest tender of £3,130 from Morey and McHale was accepted. The foundation stone was laid on 14 October 1881 and the building opened on 9 July 1882.

In 1931, the church celebrated its Diamond Jubilee. We have just digitised the souvenir pamphlet which contains a history of the church as well as the programme of jubilee events.

The interior was refurbished in the late 1980s. The Church was seriously damaged in the 4 September 2010 earthquake but the front facade was propped up and was to be repaired. It was totally destroyed by the 22 February 2011 earthquake. The side walls fell outwards and the roof collapsed.

One year after the earthquake, local artist Peter Majendie of the Sidedoor Arts Trust created a temporary art installation called 185 Empty Chairs.  The chairs were placed on 185 square metress of ready-lawn grass, just as the pews of the old church building had been placed – except facing the opposite direction.

White chairs at Oxford Terrace Baptist ChurchWhite chairs at Oxford Terrace Baptist Church

One thought on “A history of the Oxford Terrace Baptist Church

  1. purplerulz 12 September 2012 / 10:00 am

    I find the ‘185 Chairs’ installation one of the most moving places I have ever been. I truly shows the scale of the city’s loss and the individual loss of the people who loved and knew the people who died as a result of the earthquakes. I would like it to be permanent though!

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