Parish vote decides St Philip’s’ fate
The vote that the St Philip’s congregation were dreading took place on Tuesday and the church will now be sold.
The small church, sited opposite Paremata School, is part of the Pauatahanui Parish that also includes St Mark’s in Pukerua Bay, St Alban’s in Pauatahanui and St Andrew’s in Plimmerton.
A parish review earlier this year determined St Mark’s, which is unused, and St Philip’s, which has less than 30 in its congregation, should be sold. The parish roll of 120 was too small to sustain four churches, the review concluded.
On Tuesday night, at St Andrew’s, parish members voted via a secret ballot 54-21 to sell the St Philip’s building and land.
St Philip’s member Andrea Coulston said her congregation went along in good numbers but the overwhelming mood in the parish was to sell, she said.
‘‘There were some good speakers in favour of retaining our church, but we knew what was coming,’’ she said. ‘‘We had hoped to sway a few
‘‘"We had hoped to sway a few members but it wasn't to be"’’
members but it wasn’t to be.’’
Coulston said the presence of ‘‘large doormen with folded arms’’ at St Andrew’s gave the meeting a negative atmosphere, she said.
‘‘We [the St Philip’s group] felt quite intimidated - we’re not sure there was any need for that. My husband didn’t sleep well that night - he said he was surprised at the hostility from others over our stance.’’
She said some of the St Philip’s group will meet at a house from this point on, but she and a few others would not be taking part in organised religion for some time.
The parish vicar Rev Pete Watson scoffed at suggestion there was an intimidatory atmosphere at the meeting.
‘‘There were people for and against and a process we went through,’’ he said. ‘‘People had the opportunity to speak out on the night, and they did.’’
Rev Alison Pitts, a member of the church for 10 years, said ‘‘the whole exercise [review] had been about money all along’’.
However, parish member Chris Wilson said running four churches has meant the parish was living beyond its means and ‘‘will soon be on the rocks... hearts and souls reside in our people, not in the buildings.’’
Watson said the head of Wellington’s Anglican Diocese Bishop Justin Duckworth would deconsecrate St Philip’s, likely sometime in the next two months. Then the diocese would start the process of selling the building and land.