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Our History

The Early Years

In the early 1960s the Canterbury Baptist Association saw a need for a future church in the rapidly developing suburb of Avonhead and purchased two sections on Avonhead Road.

An old army hut was erected on the site in early 1963. Monthly services commenced in November the same year. A second hut was moved to the site in September 1964.


In August 1965 a Baptist Fellowship was formally established, with 17 members.


In September 1965 a newly built church hall was opened. Significant support was given by Oxford Terrace Baptist Church and the Canterbury Baptist Association.


The fellowship continued to grow and in 1967 Avonhead Baptist Church was officially established.

Weekly services began in 1968 with Rev. Walter Taylor, acting in a voluntary capacity. Later Rev. Edward Mills preached one service per week, also in a voluntary capacity.

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1977 - 1981

A manse was purchased, making it possible to consider calling a full-time pastor. In 1977 Rev. David McChesney, with his wife Lyn, accepted a call to the pastorate.


The church continued to grow and in 1978 a new larger building was opened.


In 1978 the first House Church (home group) at Avonhead was started.


In 1981 the McChesneys left when they accepted another call.

1982 - 1989

In 1982 Rev. Derek Christensen, with his wife Isa and family, accepted a call to Avonhead Baptist Church.


In 1984 an extension to the building was opened; Deacons and Elders were appointed as separate positions for the first time; and in November 1984 it was decided that a part time office assistant should be employed.


In 1986 our first full time youth worker was appointed.


In October 1986 Avonhead Baptist planted a new congregation that met at Russley School Hall, this later became Christchurch West Baptist Church. 


In 1989 the Christensens left to accept another call.

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Office Garden

1989 - 2007

In 1989 Rev. Christopher Finlay, with his wife Christine and family, accepted our call.

In 1994 Ilene Allan was appointed Pastoral Administrator; she later became a registered Baptist Pastor and then became the church’s first Associate Pastor.


In 1995 the property behind the church was purchased. In 1996 this house caught fire and was then rebuilt on the original foundation; this then became the church offices and a carpark.

In 1996 the Avonhead Community Trust was established. 


Severely hampered by lack of space for Youth, Children, community ministries and utilities the first church building was demolished; the new church building was opened in 2000.


In 2001 Faith Community Nursing was established, from which our Foot Clinic was born; we also helped to establish Galilee Global Mission Church.


In 2002 our first part-time Children’s worker was appointed; and an unreached people group was ‘adopted’.

At the end of 2007 Chris and Christine Finlay left Avonhead Baptist to answer another call.

2008 - 2014

In 2008 Doug McConnell, and his wife Sharon, accepted the call as the Senior Pastor, after previously being our Associate Pastor.


In 2009 there was a large fire in the auditorium; the interior of the auditorium and lounge were refurbished and reopened in 2010

In 2014 the McConnells left to answer another call.  

In 2014 Sean Pawson, and his wife Gill, stepped up to the role of Interim Team Leader, after previously being our Associate Pastor.

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Front Carpark

2015 - Present day

In December 2015 Bruce White, and his wife Karen, accepted the call as Senior Minister at Avonhead Baptist Church.

In 2020 church services moved online for the duration of the nationwide 'lockdown', due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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