Last ser­vice for church

Kapiti Observer - - FRONT PAGE - ADAM POULOPOULOS

A church that has been a fix­ture of a Horowhenua com­mu­nity for decades hosts its fi­nal ser­vice this week­end.

St Mary’s Angli­can Church in Levin will close af­ter be­ing deemed an earth­quake risk, with its fi­nal ser­vice on Sun­day morn­ing.

The church, on the cor­ner of Cam­bridge and Manch­ester streets, was built in 1954. It re­placed an old wooden church that stood on the same site since 1897.

Par­ish bishop’s war­den Steve Fowler said he was un­sure what the next step would be, but it would cost hun­dreds of thou­sands to re­store the cur­rent build­ing to ac­cept­able stan­dards.

Much of the church was strong enough, but its tower, which houses bells and is about 25 me­tres high, had a 10 per cent strength rat­ing.

Work to strengthen the roof and in­te­rior brick cladding is also needed.

The Welling­ton Dio­cese re­quires its build­ings to have 67 per cent com­pli­ance, twice the 33 per cent fig­ure re­quired by law.

In the mean­time, ser­vices and other ac­tiv­i­ties will be moved to the par­ish’s other two churches and the hall ad­ja­cent to St Mary’s.

Fowler said the par­ish’s re­ac­tion had sur­prised him. ‘‘The thing that re­ally as­ton­ished me is I thought the older folk would be in tears about it... but the over­all feel­ing is ‘ what an op­por­tu­nity to do some­thing a bit spe­cial’.’’

Mem­ber Je­nine Burr said all her fam­ily bap­tisms, con­fir­ma­tions, wed­dings and fu­ner­als had been held in the church.

‘‘I am re­ally sad­dened, but we have to look ahead and make de­ci­sions best suited for the Angli­can com­mu­nity here.’’

The church was like a ‘‘mini­cathe­dral’’, suited to Sun­day ser­vice, but not com­mu­nity events, Fowler said. ‘‘It’s ly­ing there six days a week, hardly used.’’

St Mary’s fi­nal ser­vice is at 9:30am on Sun­day. From the fol­low­ing week­end, Sun­day wor­ship will be at St Ai­dan’s in Waitarere Beach from 9am, and St John’s in Ohau and the St Mary’s Hall from 10am.

PHOTO: DAVID UN­WIN/STUFF

Bishop’s war­den Steve Fowler out­side the church build­ing.

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