St Stephen’s future on a wing and a prayer
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.’’