Churches tackle is­sues to­gether

Central Leader - - NEWS - By JESS LEE

Two 100-year-old churches are banding to­gether to en­sure their fu­ture.

Mt Eden’s Greyfri­ars Pres­by­te­rian Church joined with Ep­som Pres­by­te­rian Church last Novem­ber to pool re­sources and man­power.

The church which runs across both sites is now called Greyfri­ars Eden Ep­som Pres­by­te­rian Church.

Par­ish min­is­ter John Mal­colm says most de­nom­i­na­tions na­tion­wide are un­der the same pres­sure as churches face dwin­dling wor­ship­pers and ex­pen­sive earthquake-strength­en­ing costs.

‘‘The big­gest thing for us was the Christchurch earthquake.

‘‘It’s caused us to ques­tion how we’re us­ing our re­sources in a way that’s use­ful in the com­mu­nity and in a more mod­ern way, be­cause Chris­tian reli­gions are un­der pres­sure from the num­ber of people who are at­tend­ing them now,’’ he says.

The Pres­by­te­rian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand be­gan mak­ing a na­tion­wide as­sess­ment of its earthquake risk-prone build­ings in 2012, prompted by the Christchurch earthquakes.

The Cen­tral Leader re­ported in De­cem­ber 2012 that Greyfri­ars was forced to re­lo­cate its ser­vices to the church’s ad­ja­cent me­mo­rial hall af­ter it was re­vealed it may not per­form well in a strong earthquake.

The Mt Eden Rd church, founded in 1915, is still wait­ing to hear of the build­ing’s fate, Mal­colm says.

‘‘The con­gre­ga­tion is still meet­ing in the hall. We are work­ing on find­ing out the de­tails from the en­gi­neers about where the build­ing re­ally stands so we can make de­ci­sions about the fu­ture.’’

Mal­colm says the amal­ga­ma­tion of both churches, which are just 3km apart, is a pos­i­tive step for­ward.

‘‘Younger people wor­ship dif­fer­ently from people 100 years ago,’’ he says.

‘‘We now have ser­vices on both sites, with a more tra­di­tional ser­vice in Ep­som at 9am and a con­tem­po­rary ser­vice with a wor­ship band at 10.30am in Mt Eden.’’

The move has meant Mt Eden’s two min­is­ters are able to work across both sites and Ep­som’s va­cant min­is­ter’s house is be­ing put to good use.

The Bahn-Suk Korean Pres­by­te­rian Church continues to run ser­vices at the Ep­som site.

Church el­der Don Ten­net says Ep­som’s smaller con­gre­ga­tion of about 30 is ben­e­fit­ing from merg­ing with Greyfriar’s larger flock. ‘‘It’s won­der­ful, ab­so­lutely won­der­ful to see the num­ber of new fam­i­lies on a Sun­day.’’

Photo: JESS LEE

Stand­ing to­gether: Mt Eden’s Greyfri­ars Pres­by­te­rian Church has joined with Ep­som Pres­by­te­rian Church to pool re­sources and man­power, from left, Rev Ron­ald Lau’ese, Pat McKin­ney and Rev John Mal­colm.

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