Friday, 24 May 2013

Obituary: ‘The Bishop of Blueskin’

By Amanda Morrison

It is with sadness we note the passing of one of Waitati's village elders, the Reverend Arthur John Templeton, aged 97.

Arthur lived in Blueskin Bay for 37 years. He was a loved husband and father, a scholar , a woodcarver and a church minister.

Born at Addington Nursing Home in Christchurch, he was the eldest child of four. He attended St. Albans School and Christchurch Boys High School. In 1932, at age 16, he began working in the family bakehouse Templeton Pastrycooks. By age 19 he was accredited as a local preacher for the Edgeware Rd Methodist Church. In 1939 he attended Canterbury University studying Philosophy and Education. By this stage he was keeping company with Robina McLeod (his future wife) who had been working in the bakery for three years.

Arthur then attended Glenleith Theological College in Dunedin and continued his studies at Otago University. He graduated as a minister in 1942 and was a student preacher in Kaitangita. Working as a trucker in the coal mines during the holidays, he became engaged to Robina (who was still in Christchurch). They were married at St Albans Church of Christ in January 1943. He had short ministries at Ashburton, Greymouth and Christchurch.

Their daughter Tricia was born in 1946 whilst in Greymouth. When she was three they moved to Wanganui where Arthur was the minister at Wanganui Church of Christ for nearly seven years. During this time he was presented to the Queen and royal party on NZ tour as President of the Ministers' Association. In the same year, 1953, he was involved in the Tangiwhai rail disaster, helping identify some of the 151 bodies and counselling the families.

At 38 Arthur joined the eighth intake of the Hawkes Bay regiment for compulsory military training. He was stationed at Waiouru as chaplain. In 1955 he became chaplain of the Wellington West Coast Taranaki regiment. He eventually became honorary Lieutenant Colonel on the Dominion Chaplains' Council.

Arthur obtained his BA in 1949 and an MA in 1953. In 1956, aged 40, he was appointed Theology lecturer at Glenleith Bible College (until 1968) and minister at North East Valley Church Dunedin, his longest ministry where he served for 35 years.

During the 1970s Arthur gained a certificate in social work. For six years he was a medical social worker for the Otago Hospital Board, working mainly in cardiology, cardiac surgery and rheumatology.

In 1975, Arthur travelled overseas with the Leprosy Mission to Indonesia and to an International Leprosy Mission conference in London. This was the year he purchased his home in Waitati, at 2 Orokonui Rd.

Arthur's late wife Robina, or 'Ina' as she was known, was an artist and a tutor producing some 5000 paintings, mainly miniatures of New Zealand scenes. Friends helped them build Artina Gallery in an old bowling green teahouse on their property. 'Art 'was Ina's nickname for Arthur so it was a clever combination of both their names. He was also a creative man, pursuing carving and woodwork as a hobby, putting his skills to good use framing his wife's and her students' paintings.

Arthur took samples of her work whenever he went to meetings around the country, promoting and supporting her artistic endeavours. They were a great team and had 55 happy years of marriage.

In 1980 Arthur retired as a social worker but continued as voluntary minister for NEV until 1991. He also became 'stated supply' as Blueskin Union Parish minister (Waitati and Warrington) in 1985 until he was 85, retiring in 2000. Along with his ministries he was a member of various ministers associations; Medical Aid Abroad, McMillian Trust, CORSO, Leprosy Mission both local and national, Churches Education Commission local and national, National Council of Churches and Joint Regional Council on University Chaplaincy Committee (Otago /Southland Tertiary Chaplaincy Trust ).

For his work and his ministry, Arthur received the Queens Service Medal in 1996, at age 80. He was immensely proud of this honour. It represented the years and countless hours of work, thought, discussion and involvement he had with so many groups over the years.

A lover of words, Arthur read and studied all his life. He loved books and enjoyed poetry. A regular at bookstores and the library, he studied astronomy, reading about the universe and stars in general. He always had several books on the go at once. His inquiring mind led to a recent fascination with nano-technology. Always willing to learn, he was a student of life.

A community minded, liberal, generous and patient man, Arthur saw the good in everybody and had a warm heart. He knew the value of friendship is acceptance, regardless of age and gender. A true gentleman in every sense of the word, he will be much missed.


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