Christian Churches New Zealand

Note about the membership:
*plus those in Union Churches

The first Church of Christ congregation in the southern hemisphere was established in 1844 in Nelson by an immigrant from Scotland. Congregations were founded in other centres of the new colony. All the early members had their origins in Great Britain, where many had been members of Churches of Christ. In 1901, the first dominion conference was held. Others followed at irregular intervals, and from 1921 the conferences were held annually. In 1906, overseas mission work was begun in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). In 1934, R.S. Garfield Todd began service there. Todd was elected to the parliament of Southern Rhodesia and later became prime minister. More recently, New Zealand churches have supported missionary work in Vanuatu as well. Throughout their existence the Associated Churches of Christ in New Zealand have maintained a close connection with churches in Great Britain, USA and Australia, and more recently with those of Zimbabwe and Vanuatu. These links are maintained through the World Convention of Churches of Christ.

In 1955, the Associated Churches of Christ in New Zealand joined in union negotiations with the Congregational Union, the Presbyterian Church and the Methodist Church. In 1964, the Church of the Province of New Zealand (Anglican) joined the negotiations. One third of the 33 congregations affiliated to the ACCNZ are now part of union parishes (Uniting Congregations). Reciprocal membership arrangements provide the opportunity for many members of Churches of Christ to contribute to the life and witness of congregations of the other negotiating churches. With declining numbers the national conference of the ACCNZ is now held bi-annually and the main business of the church is undertaken by an administration team. The conferences are conducted by delegates appointed by affiliated churches in numbers proportionate to membership. Inspirational, promotional and devotional sessions play a large role in conventions which are now held annually.

Prior to 1927, ministers were trained for the ministry of the New Zealand Churches of Christ mainly in USA and Australia. In 1927, a theological college was set up in Dunedin and eventually provided the major part of the ministerial force of the churches. Women as well as men have been ordained to the ministry of the word. Since the college closed in 1971, candidates for ministry have been trained in one of the Australian Churches of Christ colleges or one of the interdenominational colleges recently established in New Zealand.

*plus those in Union Churches