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As 1990 approached, five scholars saw that it was time for a new history of Presbyterians in Aotearoa/New Zealand. The last history of the whole Church was published fifty years ago. One third of the Church's history was yet to be recorded.

It was also time for a different kind of history. Previous historians had focused on the triumphs of the Church. This one would not ignore the failures, the controversies, the ambiguities. It would look at the Church in its social context and in its local setting, as well as chronicling its organisations and national figures.

An austere Church, concerned that nothing extraneous should come between its people and its God, frowning even on organs in Churches. A Church which resisted change to its inherited formulations of belief. But a Church which imperceptibly grew more liberal, more varied in its worship, closer to other Churches - while secular life grew in its influence within the Church and without, and faced the Church with a declining and ageing membership.

These are only some of the themes traced through this book. Dealt with also are Presbyterian commitments to education and social service, and the Church's attempts to influence national policies on such matters as the liquor trade, the Bible in schools, and racial equality.

An abundance of pictures, informative captions, and mini-essays on particular themes further enliven the book.

Presbyterians In Aoteatoa 1840-1990

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