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Churches tackle issues together

JESS LEE
Last updated 05:00 21/05/2014
Churches together
Jess Lee

STANDING TOGETHER: Mt Eden’s Greyfriars Presbyterian Church has joined with Epsom Presbyterian Church to pool, Pat McKinney and Rev John Malcolm.

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Two 100-year-old churches are banding together to ensure their future.

Mt Eden's Greyfriars Presbyterian Church joined with Epsom Presbyterian Church last November to pool resources and manpower.

The church which runs across both sites is now called Greyfriars Eden Epsom Presbyterian Church.

Parish minister John Malcolm says most denominations nationwide are under the same pressure as churches face dwindling worshippers and expensive earthquake-strengthening costs.

"The biggest thing for us was the Christchurch earthquake.

"It's caused us to question how we're using our resources in a way that's useful in the community and in a more modern way, because Christian religions are under pressure from the number of people who are attending them now," he says.

The Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand began making a nationwide assessment of its earthquake risk-prone buildings in 2012, prompted by the Christchurch earthquakes.

The Central Leader reported in December 2012 that Greyfriars was forced to relocate its services to the church's adjacent memorial hall after it was revealed it may not perform well in a strong earthquake.

The Mt Eden Rd church, founded in 1915, is still waiting to hear of the building's fate, Malcolm says.

"The congregation is still meeting in the hall. We are working on finding out the details from the engineers about where the build- ing really stands so we can make decisions about the future."

Malcolm says the amalgamation of both churches, which are just 3km apart, is a positive step forward.

"Younger people worship differently from people 100 years ago," he says.

"We now have services on both sites, with a more traditional service in Epsom at 9am and a contemporary service with a worship band at 10.30am in Mt Eden."

The move has meant Mt Eden's two ministers are able to work across both sites and Epsom's vacant minister's house is being put to good use.

The Bahn-Suk Korean Presbyterian Church continues to run services at the Epsom site.

Church elder Don Tennet says Epsom's smaller congregation of about 30 is benefiting from merging with Greyfriar's larger flock. "It's wonderful, absolutely wonderful to see the number of new families on a Sunday."

Go to eepc.org.nz for more details.

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