Until a new Vicar is appointed our
Priest-in-Charge is Rev'd Dr Derek Tovey
The church's leadership is headed by Church Wardens. The People's Warden is
elected by the congregation and acts as the representative of the congregation.
The Vicar's Warden is appointed by the vicar. The wardens are primarily
responsible for ensuring that the church's buildings and finances are looked
after, for maintaining the parish roll and for ensuring that the church's
Every year, the congregation elects approximately 12 of its members to serve
on a body known as Vestry. The function of Vestry is to oversee all aspects
of the running of the church, including things such as financial management,
building maintenance, the organization of social functions and the support
and development of the congregation's spiritual growth.
administration of the church is managed by our church administrator.
We have a team of lay folk involved in the day-to-day running of the parish,
from cleaning the church to leading worship to caring for people in the parish.
The church's work is funded from regular giving by parishioners, and
we encourage parishioners to be involved in a planned giving programme.
We accept donations gratefully, and a bequest will help ensure that
the church is able to continue its work.
The Early Years
The original church, built at a cost of £100, opened its doors
on Friday, 8 January 1886 when it was dedicated to Bishop Cowie. The
name "St Mary's" had already been allotted to the church in
Parnell but the name "St Mary-by-the-Sea" had finally been
accepted by the authorities. At that time, the church commanded a beautiful
view of Rangitoto and the entrance to Auckland Harbour. There were just
eight church families in the district and these families, together with
a number of gum-diggers, raised the average church attendance to 30 souls.
Ministers during the first phase of the church's life were the Rev.
Bates, the Rev. Hitchcock and the Rev. Cross. After the death of the
Rev. Cross, there was no regular minister for some time and Captain
Charles Ross Chomondley-Smith, one of the founder members of the church,
the church as lay reader.
For about ten years during this time, the
church was used as a school, the early teachers being Miss F H Chomondley-Smith,
Miss Cameron and
The church hall was built next to the old church in the 1950s. It was
dedicated by Bishop Gowing and between 1955 and 1978 was used for Sunday
services as the old church became too small for comfort. This same
hall is very much in use today, both by the church and by a number
The cemetery was founded in 1928. The graveyard, now closed to burials,
had been designated an historical graveyard and is now administered
by the North Shore City Council. There is a full record of burials
The church has recently established a Garden of Remembrance for the
interment of ashes. It is situated along the front of the historic
The New Church
Amid much controversy, in 1978 the original church building was
shifted from the Torbay corner site to the Awaruku Bush Reserve
of the building of a new church. The Torbay Community Association
made every effort to preserve the historic 107-year old church
it was destroyed by fire in December 1988.
A new church was already
planned for the site. The Parish of St Mary-by-the-Sea and St Cuthbert's
Presbyterian Church decided
pool their resources
to build the church, which stands today. The foundation stone
was dedicated on 29 July 1979 by Bishop Paul Reeves and the
N Spencer. The
dedication of the church itself on completion took place on
4 May 1980.
The design for the new church drew inspiration from the stable
of Jesus' birth, and this is depicted in the exposed rough-sawn
and the "shed
roof" architecture. The building features beautiful
lead glass windows and a marae or fellowship area at the
The new church was in joint use by the Anglican
congregations until 1992 when the Presbyterians decided
to relocate. St Mary-by-the-Sea
is now wholly Anglican owned.