All Saint's may be demolished
It could be a decade before worship services, weddings and funerals are held in the All Saints' Anglican Church building.
The church was investigating three options: strengthening, strengthening and enhancement, and demolition, vicar John Marquet said yesterday.
Demolition had not been in the mix until last year's annual meeting, he said.
"We were going into the AGM with the recommendation that we strengthen and enhance, but the AGM turned us on our head and required us also to investigate demolition."
The century-old brick building on Church St was closed after last year's Easter Sunday service. Concerns were raised about its structural integrity, as it meets just 3 per cent of the Building Code.
Operations shifted into the church's community centre.
Marquet said progress in having enough information, including costs related to each option, to present to the parish for a decision was "somewhat frustratingly slow".
"In the meantime we've had to address the fact that it's probably going to be a decade - that's the kind of guess-timate that we've been given - before we're back in operation in the church, and so the facilities that we've shifted to on site are not adequate for our needs.
"We're having to look at extending the community centre, which is not even two years old, to meet our needs in the meantime while we work on the front."
Church leaders who met yesterday to discuss the situation are proposing the development of the site take place in two discrete stages.
The first would be the extension of the community centre to about double the present hall size.
"At the moment when we have funerals, weddings and other special services we have to postpone or reschedule events that are regular events in the community centre," Marquet said.
"We haven't got flexibility. The main idea of the extension is to have a dedicated worship space that we will be able to run those special services while the community centre is still in full operation."
It would be a few months before this stage was launched.
"Our first port of call for this will be our own people because this extension is primarily to do with our operation as a church. "When it comes to the front building, obviously the community engagement is much higher and we would be hopeful that the community will play a part."
He emphasised that the extensions were separate from development of the church building, but were aimed at helping the church function fully in the next 10 years while the building was out of commission. "The changes for the front church, as best we've been able to ascertain so far - and we haven't got accurate figures - it's in the multimillion category."
Initial estimates were that it would cost $4 million.
"We were trying to hold it at $4m, but the deeper we go into this the harder it is for us, and of course over time everything inflates . . . The building group that's been doing the investigations has looked at a large number of issues.
"The strengthening itself is going to be multiple millions, but then you have to factor in things like the organ."
The organ, worth $1.5m, would have to be dismantled, stored, and then reinstalled, all of which would take time and money. Other costs related to the tower and stained glass, among others.
The church had initially thought a six or seven-year timeframe was realistic, but had realised it would be longer.
"That's why we feel we need to address the pressure points around our day-by-day operation. Otherwise we will diminish as a community, and a diminished community is not going to be able to sustain a rebuild or a strengthening."