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 inChristchurch, 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
St. Alban's, Berwick Street, Christchurch

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.  

St. Columba, North Avon

 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, StStephen’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

Parishes with minor damage
Those parishes that have suffered less damage will find that in the next couple of months you will be visited by someone from the Godfrey’s Building team (our insurance assessors) who will review damage and prepare an outline of what needs to be repaired.  This outline will be forwarded back to the parish contact person through PESC for approval before repairs will be undertaken.  Parishes with minor damage should however be aware that in the longer term new regulations may be introduced that will demand buildings meet higher strengthening standards.  This inevitably will mean extensive expenditure.  You should also be planning for a minimum increase in insurance premiums of between 30 and 60% and a requirement to provide more detailed descriptions of your buildings which will be revalued every two years.

Key people

Please remember that the key person in the repair process is your insurance assessor from Godfrey’s.  This is the person you should talk with if you have any issue with repairs.  Other staff from Godfrey’s may also visit, and we mentioned above the building team who are practically trained to assess the detailed costs of smaller repairs. Some parishes will also be working with engineers from Aurecon who will be developing solutions and getting costings for major repairs.  Aurecon engineers have visited a number of buildings already to produce initial reports which, while not guaranteeing building safety, do give us a clear idea if there has been structural damage.

Manse damage
We have asked on a number of occasions for parishes to let us know if domestic dwellings they own have suffered damage in the Feb 22nd earthquake and a claim has been made with EQC.  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.  It is vital that all parishes with manses or rental properties have a careful look at their buildings and, if there is any hint of damage register with EQC immediately (phone: 0800 326 243, the insurer is Ansvar Insurance Co, and you will need to quote the Presbyterian Insurance Group policy number 0902517987).

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.  A plan of this nature is required by the Church Property Trustees in the approval process for any building repairs and alterations above $20,000.  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.  These ideas will soon be discussed by Presbytery before heading to the parishes.

Our very best wishes to you in the challenges you face.

Martin Stewart & Dugald Wilson

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