5 March 2021
I thought it could be good for us to hear some of the reports that are coming in as the Presbyterian church there struggles with the aftermath of the earthquakes.
The first is from April 13th from Martin Stewart the present moderator of Christchurch Presbytery.
Christchurch is fading from the news now, and the huge huge disaster in Japan is quite rightly more central. But these are our people and they are still living in the after shakes and cleaning up.
April 13 from Martin Stewart [St Stephens ] [Anne is Martin's wife]
"Yesterday Anne and I delivered a few gifts to people - some money to give to a retired couple who had 23 days with no water and still have no sewerage, and some money to a young couple nearby who have young children and live in an area that is unlikely to make it into a rebuild phase (also with no sewerage!).
We had been told that the land was shot but we wouldn't have believed what that meant until we drove to the young couple's home in the Avonside loop and struggled to negotiate the potholes, piles of liquefaction (still there after almost two months!) and the drains that had surfaced periodically in the middle of the road.
Most of the streets in this area had signs up - 'residents only'. We were there at 5.30pm - peak traffic time - but there was very little traffic -most of the houses seemed empty - there were no children - just one cat running over the road, blue portaloos every 200 metres, and an eerie silence. It was oppressive.
Yet strangely in such an environment a lovely young woman met us at the door, and welcomed us though we had never met. We handed over a cheque for $1000. She was completely taken aback. It wasn't an everyday thing in her life! (Let me explain the $1000: someone had gifted it asking me to convey it to someone in need who might not receive the kind of support that was being offered by the Red Cross etc ]- ............
What struck Anne and I as we drove away was that this lovely woman and her family endured this oppressive environment every day - it was the landscape of their daily lives - it had become normal. Their standard for 'normal' was very low. They had no other resources to draw on to move out and find somewhere better - they were at the mercy of the people who will probably tell them that their house is fixable but the land is shot, thus they will be relocated in time to somewhere not of their choosing.
We drove through an area of at least 200 homes that will one day soon be removed from the landscape - some sort of park will replace it - there will be a lot of parks in this area - but there are people there now and our hearts go out to them. "
Please pray for those who are trying to rebuild, remove, and rethink where their lives and livelihoods lie and for our people and all those who are ministering to them and dealing with their own earthquake fall out as well.
May God give us compassion for those in need.
Margaret Anne Low
My mother in law worships at Sumner Redcliffs Parish and what the report on buildings does not say is that that parish has finally been forced to make a decision about where to worship after years of neither area being willing to give up their worship place. Now, the Lyttleton church is destroyed and the Sumner church has been lent to the local Roman Catholic church [in Sumner] as that is badly damaged. Finally they have made the decision and it needed an earthquake to do so.
Our perceptions change when the bigger picture allows us to see beyond our own concerns . that is what the Risen Christ did to the world - it not for nothing that the gospel of Matthew uses earthquakes language to describe the world shattering event Let us not wait for disaster to move us into seeing our neighbours and community in a new way but realize that we are called to go out and meet Jesus in the city around us and in the people whose paths cross ours.. We need to remember that we do not own the church but we are there to be the people of God in the place and way God determines if we are being faithful.
I have included two of the many reports I have received from Christchurch for your information, reflection and prayers. These reports, one touching on the practical mission to the community [not church people] and one about the buildings and parishes, only deal with the Presbyterian churches in the City but remember also all the other Christian communities, the church schools and the ministries they are doing together in Christchurch.in your prayers Presbyterian Support Northern has also sent people with expert counselling skills to Christchurch and your donations to PSN Family Works and Enliven of our own PSN are supporting this work.
Christchurch Presbytery report April 20
Greetings! Here is the latest eq newsletter we have sent everywhere over the Presbytery It is not the whole Presbytery response, but simply some of the practical building things.
Meanwhile the Presbytery has a range of other things happening like: a minister to the ministers, an eastside roving minister, matching accommodation offers with recipients, and a family fun afternoon on 8 May in Linwood.
[Christchurch] Presbytery Earthquake Steering Committee EQ Update #7
It is Easter time - as we journey through Holy Week we are reminded of the joy and sorrow and suffering of Jesus and we identify with him in a new way because of our own troubles. But we also remember the third day. that death does not have the last word with our God.
The February 22nd earthquake has sure shaken us up in Christchurch, but it has been heartening to see congregations discovering that buildings are not actually what we are about. We have a number of congregations who are meeting in halls and other places and invariably someone is saying this is good and exciting as we draw together to celebrate God's kingdom in new ways.
Here is the latest information about our church buildings:
Four churches demolished
It has been sad to say goodbye to four churches that have been demolished (or soon will be). St Paul's Trinity Pacific (City), St George's (Linwood), Berwick Street (St Albans), and St John's (Lyttelton) have suffered irreparable damage.
Seven buildings with major damage
Knox, St Stephens Ilam, St Giles Papanui, Mt Pleasant, Prebbleton, St Columba North Avon, and Cashmere. Engineers from Aurecon are currently preparing proposals and costings for repair. This is a process that will take some time, but once received we will be able to begin to make decisions about whether to repair. These decisions will not be straight-forward as buildings that have been badly damaged will not only need repair but will also require expensive strengthening to meet new standards that the City Council will ask of us. The exact nature of these standards are not yet known, but one certainty ahead of us is that buildings we own will be a much heavier drain on already stretched parish budgets.
Knox anticipate being able to use their Centre shortly, and the parishes of St George's/Iona, St Stephen's, St Giles, and Cashmere are meeting for worship in their halls, and the Mt Pleasant congregation have been meeting with the people at Sumner/Redcliffs.
We have been notified of EQC numbers by the following parishes...St Stephens, St Paul's, Mt Pleasant, St Martins, New Brighton, Leeston, Knox, and Lyttelton.
Developing a Presbytery Strategic Plan
Ministers in the Presbytery have had a meeting to begin a process of preparing a new strategic guideline for future planning to help the Presbytery and Parishes think into new ways of being the church in the future. One of the key ideas to emerge from this initial meeting was that we could need fewer worship spaces (and ministers leading worship) in the city, and while we may have some mission outreach in various suburbs, it could make more sense to have larger 'hubs' where people gathered for worship
Martin Stewart & Dugald Wilson
Rev. Margaret Anne Low
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