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Christchurch celebrates the diocese’s first “church from scratch” in 40 years

Posted on: November 26, 2018 7:34 PM
Architect’s impression shows how All Souls’ tower chapel glows as dusk approaches.
Photo Credit: Warren and Mahoney Architects

The first parish “church from scratch” to be built in the New Zealand Diocese of Christchurch in 40 years will be consecrated early next year. The congregation at the All Souls’ Anglican Church complex began using their new building with services around the feast of All Souls in early November. Earlier this month they held a weekend of “festival worship and community-facing family fun”. It is the second Anglican Church to be built from scratch following the 2011 earthquakes – the first being the Transitional Cathedral which opened in 2013. It is the first Parish Church new-build.

The Bishop-elect of Christchurch, Dr Peter Carrell, dedicated the church on Saturday 3 November. He will return to the church early in 2019 with Archbishop Philip Richardson, who will consecrate the building.

Dr Carrell said that the parish had been worshipping in halls, other churches, school buildings and marquees as they waited for their own worship home. “Looking forward to this new building has kept the parish highly motivated, and the final result is impressive,” he said, as he praised the parish for having already begun using their new buildings to reach out and meet the needs of the communities they serve.

The Merivale St Albans parish was ormed after two Anglican communities – St Matthew’s in St Albans and St Mary’s Merivale – joined forces in 2014. After the 2011 earthquakes, St Matthew’s Church faced extensive damage and a huge repair bill, while St Mary’s Church community in Merivale came to realise their 1926 stone church was unsalvageable and would have to be demolished. Rather than face those challenges alone, the former Bishop of Christchurch, Victoria Matthews, invited the two communities to re-imagine a future together.

The Vicar of St Albans, Megan Herles-Mooar, hailed the beginning of worship in the new buildings as a milestone which signalled hope and renewal for the whole community. “Some who were heartbroken at the earthquake losses – including of their beloved church buildings – have already found healing coming into this new space.” she said.

The new complex houses treasures saved from the two former church buildings which are incorporated into the new design, such as the stained glass windows that now hold pride of place in a conical glass tower that forms the entrance chapel at All Souls.

The name All Souls recalls all those who have died in the earthquakes, but Herles-Mooar said that it also expressed hope for who this church will be for others. “We wanted this to be a place where ‘all souls’ will feel welcome to come to the table, no matter who they are, or where they come from,” She said.

One recent visitor to the church expressed his surprise at the beauty of the modern building’s interior, which was designed by architects Warren and Mahoney in consultation with the parish.

“What I found when I came into the building was radically unexpected,” he wrote in an email to the vicar. “The space is strongly successful and joyously holy. I wonder what prayer or spiritual yearning has occurred to create such an atmosphere?”