Media release from the heads of Denominations of Canterbury Churches

MEDIA RELEASE FROM THE HEADS OF DENOMINATIONS OF CANTERBURY CHURCHES

Sunday 10 September 2017

The Anglican Cathedral has been at the centre of perhaps one of the most public and fraught stories coming out of the devastation caused by Christchurch earthquakes in 2010 and 2011. It has been a long and difficult saga. Every Cantabrian has to be aware of the angst and debate regarding the future of this iconic building in the centre of our city. Every New Zealander probably, and many people in various parts of the world, also know about this broken building and the conflict over its future.

While it is primarily an Anglican conversation, along with other interested parties, many Christians have felt a stake in this matter, even if for most, it is from the side-lines. So, in the lead up to the Anglican Synod and their decision regarding the future of the Cathedral, many have prayerfully supported their Anglican brothers and sisters, their leaders, and Bishop Victoria.

Now that they have carefully considered the many conflicting interests, weighed their options and thoughtfully arrived at a decision, leaders of most groups of churches in our city and region are glad to express unequivocal support for the Anglican community. The rebuild will be a demanding project, a whole new challenge. We look forward to seeing a successful conclusion, a building ready to be filled with people and praise again.

At a recent Heads of Christian Denominations meeting, serious concern was expressed about the conduct of some aspects of the debate around the cathedral. Church leaders recognised the contentious nature of the issue and the complexities involved, however there is great concern about the occasionally vicious nature of some of the debate. Vitriol and personal attack add nothing of value to a decision-making process, and in fact demean all of us in the city.

Now Christian leaders plead with everyone interested in this divisive debate to accept the decision that has been carefully and legitimately made. Let us put division and bitterness behind us and work together for the good of our whole community.

The vision Christian leaders share for our Christchurch is of a great city, bursting with life, its people thriving and prospering in every sense. Every day Christians work in a multitude of ways for the good of the people of this city and we are committed to continuing this work, in compassion and care, in the arts and business, in education and community building. We want a city where everyone is welcomed and respected, whether people of a faith and creed or not. We desire a city where there is opportunity for everyone to positively participate and contribute, where goodwill and generosity of spirit build strong vibrant communities across the city and region. We dream of a city where our modern nation’s founding document, The Treaty of Waitangi, is honoured, not simply settled.

There is much yet to be done; in housing, mental health, education, employment, racial reconciliation and more besides; and it will take us all working together for the common good.

The task for all Christian believers is to shine the same light of God’s love and grace in our city here today, and in the days ahead.

Christians are fallible humans, we do not always reach the heights we aspire to, and so we acknowledge our shortcomings. However, as followers in the footsteps of Jesus we are glad to be called by God to bless the city with hope, joy, creativity, beauty and love.

This is our commitment to the city and region we love.

We invite all people of hope and vision to join with us in this dream, as we join with you; we all need each other.

Paul Askin
Senior Pastor
Kaiapoi Baptist Church

Maurice Atkinson
Regional Mission Leader for Canterbury Westland Baptist Association

Steve Burgess
Senior Pastor
South City C3

David Coster
Moderator
Alpine Presbytery,
Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand

Alan Jamieson
Senior Pastor
South West Baptist Church

Margie Lamborn,
Regional Overseer of Central South Island
Assemblies of God

Fr Rick Loughnan
Administrator for the Catholic Diocese of Christchurch

David MacGregor
Senior Pastor
Grace Vineyard Church

Donald Scott
Senior Pastor
NorthCity Church

Ken Shelley
Senior Pastor
King’s Church

Mike Stopforth
Director Catholic Bishop’s Pastoral Office

Nu Telea
Senior Pastor
Elim Church Christchurch City

Kathryn Walters
District Superintendent
Central South Island Synod
Methodist Church of New Zealand