Seddon church decommissioned

Worshippers gather for final service

KAT DUGGAN
Last updated 09:13 28/07/2014
Ryan Webb
SCOTT HAMMOND/FAIRFAX NZ

FINAL SERVICE: The Rev Dawn Daunauda, of St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, leads a farewell of the Seddon church building, which is to be demolished because of earthquake damage.

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The St Andrew's Presbyterian Church congregation in Seddon has said its last goodbye to a church it has worshipped in for the past six decades.

The church building in Richmond St is to be demolished because of earthquake damage.

Yesterday, about 140 people gathered for the final service at the 59-year-old church.

The Rev David Coster, who was ordained at the church in 1977, led the service with its current minister, the Rev Dawn Daunauda, who announced its decommission.

A decision was made in April to bring the church down, after earthquakes in July and August last year made it unsafe for use.

Coster and Daunauda said it was a sad day but they were happy to see the building go and the safety of their congregation preserved.

"I look at it and there's a deep ache in my heart . . . I love being here but I wish I was here for another reason," Coster said. "As a church we have to keep our buildings at the same safety standard as anything else, and this is a risk site . . . it needs to come down."

After being ordained at the church, Coster spent six years as its minister, and welcomed two of his three children into the world before leaving the small farming town in 1982.

"It is very close to my heart; it's a wonderful community. When we left in 82 we were all in tears. We didn't want to leave."

Now the moderator of the Alpine Presbytery based in Christchurch, Coster feels a strong sense of resilience among the Seddon community.

"Here everybody knows everybody else and supports each other . . . the church here is the heart of the community."

The church community had come to accept that the church needed to be demolished, Daunauda said. "I'm ready now to let it go . . . [and] I think that the people are OK," she said.

Following the service, a gathering was held at Cosy Corner cafe so people could share their stories and memories of the church.

The congregation had been worshipping at the Catholic church in Seddon since St Andrew's was declared off limits, and would continue doing so for the time being. But planning for a new church was under way, Daunauda said. "Watch this space. It's quite exciting. It's almost scary, but fun scary."

Simcox Construction was to carry out demolition of the church, but a start date had not been set.

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- The Marlborough Express

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