Last service for church
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.
Bishop’s warden Steve Fowler outside the church building.