Church is born again
St Andrew’s Church in Plimmerton celebrated its reopening with a party and the Rev Jenny Dawson says it has been a ‘‘special time’’ for everyone involved.
A fire ripped through the 90-year-old church in February, badly damaging an outer room and much of the building’s roof. It has taken some time for the refurbishment to be completed – with services held in the nearby North Porirua Baptist Church in the meantime.
Ms Dawson said it has been worth the wait. She made special mention of the main contractors, Freear Philip, who had been ‘‘marvellous’’. Along with the repair work, the new foyer, formerly a porch, has also been built.
‘‘It’s been a busy time but a special time too. Along with reopening to the community on Saturday [November 28] we had an all-night vigil, then the first service on Sunday morning and the rededication ... It’s just amazing and a fantastic way to thank everyone in the community who has helped us through this time. It’s all come together well.’’
Inside, new seating, carpet, windows, data projector, digital piano and a reconfigured layout at the front has added a more modern feel to the place. It will still seat the same number – just over 100 – but Ms Dawson said ‘‘it feels bigger inside now’’.
She said they have lost a few members of their congregation, disappointed that some tra- ditional features, like the pews, had been replaced with chairs.
A woman, charged with burglary and arson in relation to the fire, will appear in court on February 9. Ms Dawson said there are ‘‘differing feelings’’ among the parish towards the accused.
‘‘It’s still hard to think someone within our congregation is accused of arson, this is someone who we saw often around here. Myself and others have to give evidence in February – I’m not looking forward to that much but it is the next stage in dealing with what happened.’’
This Thursday, St Andrew’s hosts a Christmas carol evening from 7.30pm. Then on Christmas Eve they will likely ‘‘pack 200 people in’’ for their traditional service.
New beginning: The Rev Jenny Dawson speaks at the regular Thursday morning service in the new, refurbished St Andrew’s Church. Some of those who attended this gathering were impressed at the improvements carried out.