News Story

Senior Couple Serve in South Island Congregation Covering Two National Parks

Martin and Margaret Bourne were living in a small town northwest of Christchurch, when they were asked if they would serve a mission in which Martin would lead the Queenstown Branch (congregation) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Margaret joked that they would go under one condition--that their 25-year-old cat, Mork, could accompany them. 

The Bournes packed up their belongings, and after a week in the Missionary Training Centre in Auckland, Martin, Margaret (and yes, Mork) were on their way. 


They found a home to rent in Cromwell, an ideal location, between the two congregations that meet each week. On a typical Sunday, they leave home at 8:30 a.m., drive nearly an hour down a narrow, windy mountain road that leads to Queenstown, and arrive in time to organise things for the 10 a.m. services. 

Meetings are held in a four-bedroom home that has been converted into a church meetinghouse.  The four bedrooms serve as an office, nursery, Primary room and classroom.  Church is held in what used to be the living room. When there is an abundance of visitors, they overflow into the kitchen and often out onto an adjacent patio.   

Following two hours of church meetings, followed by interviews and administrative meetings, the Bournes leave Queenstown by 1:30 for the 90 km drive to Alexandra, where they meet with a small group for church services from 3 to 5 p.m. Meetings are held in the Alexandra Community House in which the Church rents two rooms and a cupboard. The Bournes are home for the day by 6:00 or 6:30. When asked what they do for lunch, Margaret quipped, "Catering services takes care of that," meaning that she packs a lunch for them.   

The Queenstown branch covers more geographic area than any in New Zealand, and includes Fiordland National Park and Mt. Aspiring National Park. The limited number of roads means that many areas of the branch are only accessible by airplane. 

The Bournes have visited every member of their congregation (74 members representing 45 families), and average 3,500 km/month on their car which had around 172,000 km on the clock on the day they arrived.

The location of Church members ranges from one who lives 400 metres from the chapel, to the furthest who is in Ranfurly, 162 km away. 

Members range in age from a seven-month-old infant to a 99-year-old man, described as "a real trouper!"    

Two weeks after the Bournes arrived, COVID-19 caused worship services to be temporarily suspended.  Martin explained, "For those who are not members of our faith, you might imagine being the vicar but you can’t have Sunday Services or visit any of your parishioners and you can’t even go to the church building, which for us is a 50-minute drive away." 

The Bournes used this time to assemble food parcels and make deliveries via front porch for those in need.  They also used their phone and computer to seek out those in the local community who needed help, and to contact members of the congregation. 

Martin noted divine help in his new responsibilities: "We are very much aware that we are being aided by far more than earthly helpers in the work. On many occasions in the past few weeks we have both found it necessary to sink to our knees [in prayer], amid our fears of inadequacy and overwhelming responsibility and the perceived expectations of our calling by our members, to seek divine guidance and direction from our Lord and Redeemer. His supreme love for his children, whatever their race, creed or circumstances is always evident. His constant patience and compassion has no apparent bounds as we always feel his influence and receive His practical counsel on what to do for the benefit of those over whom we have stewardship."

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