History

Origins

Johnsonville Uniting Church is a co-operating Christian parish embracing people from various church traditions, though largely founded on the union of Methodist and Presbyterian congregations. The parish boundaries cover much of Wellington's northern suburbs: Johnsonville, Newlands, Woodridge, Paparangi, Churton Park, Broadmeadows and Grenada Village.

The church has roots dating back to the earliest years of European settlement, starting with Johnsonville Methodist Church, which began local services in 1842, opening a church building in Johnsonville Road in 1847, later added to and rebuilt.

The Johnsonville Methodist Cemetery up Norman Lane is the last resting place of many early settlers of the northern suburbs. Formerly located behind the Methodist Church, it remains in parish ownership and remained when the church was demolished in 1973 to make way for business premises.

St Columba Presbyterian Church opened its doors to worship in Earp Street, Johnsonville, in 1896, and continued to hold services there after merging with the Methodists before being demolished in the 1980s to make way for a rest home.

Movement For Union

The ecumenical Christian movement was becoming more influential by the 1960s, with active moves for the larger Protestant denominations to combine both at parish and national level in New Zealand. With increasing population during the 1950s and 1960s in the Newlands-Paparangi area, Methodist and Presbyterian church services were held in local churches and halls, leading to the formation of St Oswald Union Church (Presbyterian-Methodist-Congregational) as a self-supporting, then separate parish from 1966 onwards in Oswald Cres, Newlands.

Ecumenism was given further impetus by the 1967 Act of Commitment in which Presbyterian, Methodist, Associated Churches of Christ, Congregational Union and Anglican denominations declared their willingness to seek further ways of uniting their resources.

In this climate, Methodist and Presbyterian churches in Johnsonville (who had increased their membership in the late 1960s) actively discussed combining together. In 1969 both parishes voted for union by large margins. On Sunday 1 February 1970, Johnsonville Union Church came into being in a service at St Columba Church in Earp Street. The parish opened a new worship facility (the Terrace Centre) in Dr Taylor Terrace in 1977 and was renamed Johnsonville Uniting Church in 1995.

A new merger

Both Johnsonville and Newlands parishes continued their work in the community into the new millennium with a covenant relationship between both churches established in 1989. In 2003, both congregations decided to merge together and this came into effect on Sunday 1 February 2004 at a service in the Terrace Centre in Johnsonville.

Following consultation among parishioners, the parish voted to use Johnsonville Uniting Church for its name, reflecting its central location for worship and purpose as a congregation bringing people together. A combined Parish Council was formed which saw through the merger from February 2004 to March 2005, when a new constitution came into effect and a new Parish Council was elected.

JUC continues to use the Terrace Centre in Johnsonville for worship and community activities.  

Sale and closure of St Oswald Centre

Permission from the national partner churches was given in early 2017 for sale of the St Oswald Centre which was used by a Cook Island parish and several community groups.   The Newlands Church was subsequently sold to a property developer and passed from JUC's hands in August 2017.