Cathedral dean Lynda Patterson dies
Christchurch has lost a great treasure with the death of Cathedral Dean Lynda Patterson, her predecessor says.
The Anglican diocese confirmed Northern Irish-born Patterson, 40, died of natural causes in her home yesterday after a recent, undisclosed illness.
Last year she succeeded Peter Beck in the role, becoming the cathedral's first female dean.
Beck last night said he had known Patterson since she came to New Zealand and had worked closely with her.
"It's a big loss, a tragic loss and we're very sorry, obviously."
Patterson had contributed significantly to Christchurch and the cathedral, he said.
"The church and the community at large has lost quite a taonga, a treasure, an amazing theologian, and probably the finest preacher I've ever heard."
She was an accomplished theologian who spoke in seminaries around the world but had an extraordinary ability to make theology accessible for "ordinary folk", Beck said.
"She was an amazing woman who was like a magnet really, and people just got drawn to her."
Bishop Victoria Matthews said Patterson was "highly respected" across the diocese and province as preacher and teacher.
"She was also a great pastor who brought both compassion and appropriate humour to every situation."
Patterson first visited Christchurch in 2002 while on sabbatical leave from teaching theology at Oxford University.
She studied theology at Oxford and then lectured in theology there, for a total of 12 years. She had intended doing a doctorate but enjoyed the teaching so much she took on extra classes instead.
Patterson told The Press last year her first impressions of the local church was "the huge well of talent, much of it self-effacing, and the commitment to quietly get on and get things done, with no great self-promotion".
She found this "one of the most appealing attributes of many New Zealanders" and part of the "No 8 wire mentality".
When Matthews formally appointed Patterson she said she was grateful for the services she had provided during a period "which has been the focus of many emotional battles and debates".
"She has held the Cathedral community together and also handled no small amount of international media interest about both the cathedral in the Square and the new Transitional Cathedral," Matthews said.