Par­ish vote de­cides St Philip’s’ fate

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - KRIS DANDO

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.

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