Glenaven Methodist Church

9 Chambers Street, North East Valley, DUNEDIN

Quick links:

Tucked up Chambers Street in North East Valley and bound by Lindsay Creek, stands a fine example of a moderately sized church in the Gothic Revival style. Designed by Robert Newton Vanes, a local architect working with J.L. Salmond, the church was constructed to meet the growing needs of the burgeoning township. The building is of architectural and social significance. The first Methodist church services were held in North East Valley in 1864. The population of the Valley grew rapidly and North East Valley was proclaimed a borough in October 1877. This church was built to meet the needs of the rapidly increasing population of North East Valley and in particular that of the Glenaven township. Funds for the building were raised by donations, subscriptions and a large single donation by Mr Phillips, the Honorary Secretary. Prior to its construction, Tyrell’s Bakery (1896-1905) was located behind the current site of the church alongside Lindsay Creek; the Bakery fronted Main North Road (now North Road). The remnants of the bakehouse is believed to have been incorporated into a hall at the rear of the Church on King Edward Street (now Chambers Street). The church is a moderate sized rectangular building, oriented south-west to north-east with the sanctuary in the northern end. Gothic Revival in style, the church is constructed of brick with an Ōamaru stone spire and buttresses, and when constructed, had a slate roof laid in a diamond pattern with decorative terra cotta ridge tiles. The south west façade facing the street is dominated by the tower with Ōamaru stone angle buttresses, lancet arches and trefoil-headed openings at the level of the bell. The top of the tower appears as four distinct gable ends. The entrance is south of the tower, and has a large door in the shape of a pointed arch with a hood mould above. The east end of this façade has a pair of lead-crossed lancet windows. The remaining elevations have simpler detailing with brick being their primary material in preference to Ōamaru stone. The original interior was lath and plaster with exposed arched wooden rafters and diagonal sarking on the ceiling. The foundation stone was laid on the 21st September 1905 by Mrs S.C. Phillips, and the opening services were held 6 months later on the 4th March 1906. Details from the Glenaven Minutes note that the land was purchased for £325 ($57,697). Newton Vanes was first approached in May 1905, these were approved in August 1905. The tender of J &N Wood was accepted for £983 ($174, 511), and Vanes fee was £70 ($12,332). In, Churches of Otago, Hardwicke Knight notes the similarity of Glenaven Church with the Wesleyan Church at Invercargill. On its tenth anniversary the church was reported to be progressing well spiritually, and financially. In the 1950s the Church spire was removed as there were issues with leaking. A metal plate was secured inside the tower to seal it for several decades. Major renovations to the Church were completed in 2000, including the addition of a new spire clad in butanol slate. At the same time the interior was modernised to create a more flexible area for worship. Significant work was completed in 2017 to earthquake strengthen the church and to upgrade the kitchen which cost $30,000. Of particular significance is Glenaven’s commitment to the LGBT community. Glenaven is one of New Zealand’s first churches to declare itself as a reconciling congregation, committing to “welcoming and including gay and lesbian people in all aspects of their life.” Importantly, Glenaven was the first church in New Zealand to have an openly gay minister in 1986, Reverend Dr. David Bromell. Originally a Baptist Minister, Bromell applied to be received by the Methodist Church in Full Connextion in 1989; this caused much friction and fractioning within the church community for years. By 1993, the Conference proposed the Church comply with the New Zealand Human Rights Act 1993 to not discriminate based on sexuality. Meanwhile Bromell had resigned due to the delays in decision making. At its 1997 Annual Conference, the Methodist Church of New Zealand, Te Haahi Weteriana o Aotearoa, accepted Revd Dr David Bromell into Full Connexion “by a substantial majority”, and he was appointed Superintendent of the Christchurch Methodist Mission, a position he held until 2003. Today, Glenaven maintains a small committed congregation which includes many international students who attend the University of Otago. Currently the Best Start Montessori continues to utilise the Church and adjacent hall during the week with the congregation using the church on Sundays, the rainbow sign outside declaring its continuing commitment to acceptance.

Glenaven Methodist Church | Ben Hill | 08/08/2009 | Wikimedia Commons
Glenaven Methodist Church | Ben Hill | 08/08/2009 | Wikimedia Commons



List Entry Information


Detailed List Entry



List Entry Status

Historic Place Category 2


Private/No Public Access

List Number


Date Entered

12th December 1990

Date of Effect

12th December 1990

City/District Council

Dunedin City


Otago Region

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the part of the land described as LOT 9 DP 1590 Deposited Plan 1590, (RT OT130/44), Otago Land District, the building known as Glenaven Methodist Church, thereon. Refer to the extent map tabled at the Heritage List/ Rārangi Kōrero Committee meeting on 4 June 2020.

Legal description

Lot 9 DP 1590 (RT OT130/44), Otago Land District

Stay up to date with Heritage this month