I had seen a glimpse of a damaged Knox Church on a round-up of the Christchurch quake and wonder just how extensive it had been. An email this morning from the Rev. Geoff King fills us in. Our thought and prayers are with you all Geoff as they are with all folk in Canterbury who have experienced this frightening quake.
It’s been quite a day in Canterbury; after the quake at 4.30 our phone, power and water went out so it was off on the bike to check on parishioners and to survey the damage to the city, including our churches. Riding down Papanui Road I was feeling quite hopeful, as the cross on top of Knox’s main gable was still visible in the distance; closer inspection revealed a cordon around not just the church but the whole hall complex, owing to concerns that the damage to both the Eastern and Western frontages could lead to a major collapse in an aftershock, which might involve brickwork falling on the hall roof. So whilst the hall and lounge complex appears largely undamaged, we can’t safely use them and have had to cancel all services and events in our premises until further notice. I’ve not spoken with Lapana Faletolu yet about how St Paul’s Trinity has fared but know that several other inner churches (Durham St Methodist, Oxford Tce Baptist, Ruby St Methodist, St Luke’s in Manchester St, St John’s Latimer Square) have suffered major damage. Once that damage has been assessed we’ll all need to make arrangements about worship services and other parish functions; for the meantime we’re putting safety first and I’ll meet anyone who turns up tomorrow in the carpark and send them home. Since returning home from visiting at 3 I’ve been on the phone working my way through our congregational roll, as I know Martin Stewart and no doubt other colleagues have been doing. The main priority at present is people’s safety – thankfully power is back on through most of the city now, but water is still a problem in some areas and with every second house in our area having a chimney-sized hole or two in the roof, the forecast winds and rain tomorrow are the last thing we need. Parts of the inner city look like a bombsite – whole shops and houses have crumbled, stairwells collapsed, and dotted around the pavement are eruptions of sand and water…quite bizarre. In the midst of all the destruction it’s been heartening to see people really reaching out to neighbours, friends, relatives and sometimes complete strangers, and given the size of the quake it’s remarkable that there’s been (to my knowledge) no loss of life.
Your thoughts and prayers are appreciated.
Please pass on best wishes to all those in your Parish and other Parishes in Christchurch from our Otago Peninsula Presbyterian Parish here in Dunedin. We remember you all in our thoughts and in our prayers. Please let us know of any way that we can provide any other support to your Parishes in Christchurch. Blessings from Rev Alofa Lale and the OPPP in Dunedin.