Ward Catholics said farewell to their church ahead of its demolition but look forward to a new beginning, worshipping in St Peter's Anglican Church.
Past and present parishioners of St Peter Chanel Catholic Church stood shoulder to shoulder with members of Ward Anglican community at a decommissioning mass celebrated by Father Aidan Kay yesterday.
Around 150 people, including the families of pioneers who set up both churches, attended the service.
Father Aidan said he wanted to look at the past and to the future.
"I thank from the bottom of my heart all the Anglicans gathered to say farewell to the church, just as we gathered to say farewell to Seddon Presbyterian Church last week. God is remarkably even handed.
"Earthquakes brought us together but, our Anglican brothers and sisters, you may be stuck with us."
Father Aidan said he was grateful that Ward Catholics could continue their religious life at St Peter's Anglican Church.
In a symbolic gesture Father Aidan and Rev Dawn Daunauda walked about 1km in the rain from St Peter Chanel's Church to St Peter's Anglican Church.
The church's altar and church sign were moved to their new home in the Anglican church.
Rev Dawn welcomed Catholic parishioners to their new home.
"We do not expect the Catholic community to be clones of us. God is diverse in character and he would get very bored if we worshipped the same. I believe as a society we can flourish."
Anglican Pip Thomson and her friend Ossie Hickman, 70, a Catholic, joked: "We have always had a joke that God is probably Anglican. It pays to cover our bases now."
Sister Denyse Martin, from Kaikoura, said that it was a sad day.
"The building is coming down but the church community is still here."
St Peter Chanel parishioner Kevin Loe said early settlers steeped in faith set up the church in 1923.
The first service was celebrated in the Clifford House, which is now the Loe homestead, and then in Ward School.
The small red-brick church was damaged in the 6.6 earthquake last August which caused cracks in its tower and water damage from a broken cylinder.
The interior of the church had been stripped and materials salvaged from inside the church would go where possible to prospective buyers who lived near Ward.
The church is to be demolished by Simcox, which will also be demolishing the earthquake-damaged St Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Seddon.
- The Marlborough Express
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