Ivan the Wonderful - A Magnificent Contribution to Freemasonry and GoD
 
Pauline and her daughter
Inspiration to become a vicar came to him as a young child - about 8-years old from memory.

"I can recall the moment when I was first deeply moved, I was a choir boy."

He remembered watching nuns caring for lepers, on a black and white 8 millimetre film, and was amazed at their kindness.

Vicar aspirations were there, but he fought against it believing there were "more fun things in the world".

"I wanted to be everything, I had a bucket list."

He dabbled in jobs like a  linesman, digging drainage holes, cleaning and ushering for town hall staff, in order to make some money.

Motorcycles became a passion until one close call between him and a Landrover on the Paraparas in the Manawatu.

"I decided motorcycles and I were better apart."

Eventually he was given two choices to cement his future career, become a vicar or an electrician.

"I'm not too sure I was meant to fix fuses, I was meant to minister to people."

Since moving to Ngaruawahia, it's been quite an adventure.

"I had a sense of anticipation and excitment... there were four churches, all separate, and four sets of families, we were looking forward to getting to know them."

He didn't expect to stick around for quite so long.

"I would have thought they would get tired of me real quick," he laughed.

Looking around the building, he can point out the surviving features of the devastating fire which occurred June 28, 1995.

Scorch marks remain on some of the solid Kauri pews with some having "very burnt bottoms".

And the wooden candle holders that stand just over a metre tall still feature melted wax and smoke marks.

"It's a constant reminder of the journey we make and the journey we are about to make."

Perhaps the most treasured item was the restored golden cross.

"It was burnt black and dull, I couldn't believe it, it almost made me cry."

The community and tangata whenua played a huge part in its restoration, he said.

Another memorable event he mentioned was the 10-year disappearance of the Waingaro St Alban's church bell in the mid 90s.

Found in Wellington, Smith said he was part of the work to ensure it stayed there.

"We built a steeple and bolted it up there, that was a marvellous day."

Everything up to this moment though comes down a strong parish and community spirit which keeps the churches going.

"It's the clearest affirmation of our work, is seeing the congregations renew our families and the welcome they receive gives us so much confidence."

Congratulations, Freemasonry and the Church are both better off for the benefit of your influence. Enjoy your retirement my friend - go well.