This year marks 180 years of Christian worship in Te Awamutu and 55 years since Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, visited our town.
When the new St John's church building was opened in 1964 it was intended the Queen Mother would open the building, but she was forced to postpone her much anticipated visit due to poor health.
The visit, along with the rest of her New Zealand tour, was rescheduled for 1966 and on Sunday, May 1 she visited Te Awamutu to join Sunday worship at St John's. To commemorate the visit a vinyl record was produced containing excerpts from the service - including the hymns Praise To The Lord, The Almighty, The King Of Creation and Fill Thou My Life, O Lord My God.
Like her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, she was sustained greatly during her almost 102 years of life by her strong Christian faith.
When the Queen Mother passed away in 2002 the Queen spoke of how her mother's faith had always been "a great strength to her" and the Archbishop of Canterbury recalled how "Christian love shone through her character".
I daresay her strength of faith would have been evident to all those parishioners who were joined by her that Sunday morning in May 1966.
The Queen Mother was consort to His Majesty King George VI during his 15-year reign. She had previously been the Duchess of York for 13 years and later became Queen Mother when her daughter, Elizabeth II, ascended to the throne. This was the title she would hold the longest (50 years).
Earlier in her life the Queen Mother visited New Zealand with her husband in 1927; the tour lasted a month and encompassed Auckland, Rotorua, Hamilton, Taupō (where they spent a couple of days fishing), the Hutt Valley, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch, Dunedin and plenty more places besides.
It had been planned that she, King George VI and Princess Margaret would visit New Zealand in 1949.
Cambridge was intended to be the only Waikato town visited by the royal visitors; the excitement of hosting the sovereign caused the council to undertake a great many improvements, from painting buildings, to sealing whole streets.
Unfortunately the King's poor health left him unable to undertake such an intense schedule of events and the tour was postponed (later to be carried out by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in 1953-54); in 1951 the King's health deteriorated to the point that he had to have his left lung removed and in early 1952 he sadly passed away.
Prior to her 1966 visit to New Zealand, the Queen Mother had last visited in 1958 when she spent a fortnight criss-crossing the country, including a visit to Hamilton Girls' High School.
On every visit to our shores the Queen Mother's elegance, charm and humour endeared her to everyone she met, including during her visit to Te Awamutu.
As this year we commemorate the 55th anniversary of the Queen Mother's visit we also celebrate the faith which sustained her and which continues to sustain so many of us throughout Te Awamutu, New Zealand and the world as a whole.