Emotional service for Christ Church cathedral
Canterbury's earthquake-damaged Christ Church Cathedral was deconsecrated today in an emotional ceremony.
About 200 invited members of the cathedral community gathered in Cathedral Square to see the building returned to secular use.
The ceremony opens the way for partial demolition of the cathedral to make it safe while long term options are considered.
Anglican bishop Victoria Matthews said the ceremony was about "real loss", but also hope. "This is not time to lose hope,'' she said.
"Today we look upon a building that has meant so much for so many. We give thanks for it and we cherish our memories, but we hear God's voice saying it is time, for a while, to move on and allow it to be made safe and part of it to be taken down.''
The ceremony included prayers, readings and hymns sung by the Christchurch Cathedral Choir.
Dean Peter Beck said that services would not return to the cathedral for a "considerable time''.
"Today is a sad day. We have had many sad days in our city, but this is also another step on the journey of our recovery and rebuilding of our city,'' he said.
Brent Bruce, who has helped the cathedral over many years, felt "honoured and sad'' to attend the ceremony.
"I never thought I would see the cathedral like this. I remember when I was a kid, biking past it and just stopping and looking up at it,'' he said.
"It has always been part of our home.''