Can­ter­bury’s old­est church re-opens

The Press - - News - JOEL INESON

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.’’

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