The history of St Ambrose in Aranui and St Chad’s in Linwood goes back a long way. St Chad’s used to be part of the Avonside parish until 1919, when it became a parish in its’ own right. At that time there were three churches in the new Linwood parish; St Chad’s (then on the corner of Woodham Road and Worcester St), St Oswald’s on the corner of Linwood Avenue and Cranley St, and St Mary’s in Heathcote.
The first St Chad’s as opened by Bishop Julius on 24 February 1907 and the first service was held on Easter Day 1907 (31 March). The first Vicar was the Revd J. R. Young.
In 1923 St Chad’s was moved across the paddocks to its present site and St Oswald’s was moved down Buckley’s Road to the same site and became the Sunday School. It is still there, the oldest building on site and now known as the St Oswald’s Lounge. Also in 1923 the parish boundaries were redefined to include Aranui as far as Bexley Road, so St Ambrose became part of the parish; this was when Aranui was a small village halfway to New Brighton.
The depression of the 1930’s hit the area hard and, although the population had increased during the 1920’s, the income of the parish fell and for a time could not afford a vicar, so was temporarily looked after by the curate from the Avonside parish. The appointment of the Revd Walter Southward as vicar, with the charge to make the parish financially viable was successful and during this period the Southward Hall was built.
Post World War II the parish was noted for its youth club, Sunday School and choir. Another building boom in the area meant new housing areas in North Linwood, between Woodham Road and the Avon River and – for a time – a class from North Linwood School used the hall. The area between St Chad’s and St Ambrose was filling with housing too and by the late 1950’s Aranui was no longer surrounded by open country.
As a result of a fundraising campaign the church of St Chad was replaced with a new building in 1959. When the Aranui housing east of Breezes Road and a smaller area in Dallington were included in the parish boundaries the parish (which had officially become the Parish of Linwood-Aranui in 1957) was reputed to be the largest in New Zealand. In 1967 there was a good choir and a new organ at St Chad’s, and a thriving Coffee Club, which met in the nave of the old church.
Growth in the 1960’s led to the building of St Christopher’s in Dallington and St Anthony’s in Wainoni and by 1967 Aranui-Wainoni had separated to become a parish in its’ own right.
However numbers at worship began to drop in the 1970’s and eventually St Christopher’s was closed and the building sold. The numbers continued to decline and early in the new millennium it was looking as though the Linwood parish would need to join with the neighbouring parish of Avonside. The Revds Helen Roud and Anne Russell-Brighty, however, came to the rescue of St Chad’s and built up the ministry there to once again be able to support a full-time vicar.
The earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 resulted in some damage to the buildings but they were able to remain open and to become the centre of outreach to the many hurting and needy people in East Christchurch.
In 2016 discussions began between the parishes of Aranui-Wainoni and Linwood about the two parishes working together again. This resulted in a request to the Diocesan Synod that they become one parish again; this was approved by the Synod and from 1st January 2019 we became the Parish of Linwood-Aranui, comprising of St Ambrose in Aranui and St Chad’s in Linwood.