St Stephen’s fu­ture on a wing and a prayer

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

Con­gre­ga­tion mem­bers and her­itage cam­paign­ers will have to wait an­other three­months to see whether St Stephen’s Pres­by­te­rian Church will close af­ter a meet­ing on April 14 failed to reach a fi­nal ver­dict on its fu­ture.

Parish­ioners were told late last year the church was likely to close be­cause of dwin­dling numbers and ex­pen­sive earth­quakestrength­en­ing bills, Auck­land City Har­bour News, De­cem­ber 26.

Struc­tural engi­neers have as­sessed the church and its steeple.

How­ever, be­fore a de­ci­sion is made on its fu­ture the com­mis­sion tasked with eval­u­at­ing the 134-year-old church will as­sess its peo­ple.

A pres­bytery com­mis­sion was es­tab­lished ear­lier this year which is in the process of re­view­ing how well the con­gre­ga­tion is func­tion­ing in or­der to es­tab­lish the church’s vi­a­bil­ity.

A fi­nal de­ci­sion was hoped to be made by the end of last week, Auck­land City Har­bour News, March 8, but St Stephen’s ses­sion clerk Ross Prestidge says the com­mis­sion has set them­selves a new dead­line of July.

More than 50 peo­ple at­tended the two-hour pub­lic meet­ing on April 14 be­tween com­mis­sion mem­bers, parish­ioners and res­i­dents con­cerned about the build­ing’s fu­ture.

‘‘This is just the be­gin­ning of the process. The church must work out whether it is vi­able in terms of peo­ple and make sure ev­ery­one is on the same page,’’ Mr Prestidge says.

The com­mis­sion will meet with each of the church’s stake­hold­ers in the com­ing months be­fore reach­ing a de­ci­sion.

Mr Prestidge says gen­er­ally the mood of the meet­ing was pos­i­tive but a num­ber of neg­a­tive points were put to the com­mis­sion.

‘‘Some peo­ple feel it’s not nec­es­sary and some are frus­trated by the slow­ness of the process.’’

Con­gre­ga­tion mem­ber Wayne MacDon­ald says there isn’t much more they can do now but wait.

‘‘I think over­all the meet­ing was good. It gave ev­ery­one a chance to have their say.’’

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