Canterbury’s oldest church re-opens
Restoring Canterbury’s oldest church reinforces the Anglican Diocese appreciates history but that its members are ‘‘not museum curators’’, Bishop Victoria Matthews says.
St Bartholomew’s Church in Kaiapoi, North Canterbury, opened its doors for the first time yesterday after extensive earthquake repair work.
Along with getting a new roof and fresh paint, the entire church building was moved to an adjacent red-zoned site while contractors laid new foundations before they ‘‘rolled it back,’’ Matthews said.
‘‘Two things that are kind of fun about it is it opened in 1855 but within four years it had to be moved from a sandhill to a more solid base, and during the restoration of this building we moved it yet again.’’
About 100 people packed into the small wooden church to appreciate freshly oiled timber framework and restored stained glass windows before accompanying the newly repaired organ to sing hymns.
Church spokesman Stephen Walters said the project had been ‘‘a ground up restoration’’, from repairing native kahikatea used in the original build to fixing the ‘‘precarious’’ steeple and belfry.
‘‘There wasn’t one aspect of the building which hasn’t had attention and isn’t better for it, so that it’s preserved for the future and future generations,’’ he said.
More than 230 properties managed by Church Property Trustees, which holds the property of the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch, were damaged in the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.
About 150 of projects have been completed, with another 20 in progress and 30 in planning stages.
Matthews said the St Bartholomew’s repair showed ‘‘a huge commitment’’ to the Canterbury community.
‘‘Though there’s been all this mention of [Christ Church] Cathedral, we’ve actually, as a diocese, focused on the needs of each local community.
‘‘The people who really, really care about the cathedral only think about that. When something like this happens ... they say ‘If you can do this, then it’s just a bit bigger to do the cathedral’. It’s a lot bigger.’’
The St Bartholomew’s dedication showed ‘‘we do love our church buildings, we do want to care for the local people and we do appreciate the history’’.
‘‘As I’ve said many times, we’re not museum curators, we are ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ.’’