Even in the earliest stages of development, most settlements had a Christian congregation. There was one problem though; these settlements had no churches. Many early congregations met in large homes in the community. In Napier, the congregation met in the homes of two captains; Beer and Johnston. As military captains, Beer and Johnston were both able to perform marriages and baptisms, so there was no urgent need for a pastor. The congregation was serviced by "saddlebag preachers" who traveled from settlement to settlement.

The exterior of St. Mary’s Anglican as it appears today.
The exterior of St. Mary's Anglican as it appears today.
As communities became more established and earned more money, separate buildings were built for meetings. These were log buildings, and they often served as both church and school. In 1839, a church was built in Napier, in the corner of what is now the church yard at St. Mary’s Anglican. At that time, the building was used by Baptists, Presbyterians, Anglicans and Methodists.

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