Timaru parish weighs up options
Workshops to consider combining four parishes into oneMATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Merging or sharing of services could be on the cards for Timaru's Anglican parishes, as the Church looks to respond to declining numbers and financial pressures.
St Mary's vicar Revered Indrea Alexander and South Canterbury Archdeacon Andrew Stark have distributed a discussion document to parishioners, outlining some possible suggestions.
Timaru has four Anglican Parishes: St Marys, St Johns, St Philip and All Saints, and Kensington-Otipua Parish.
Rev Alexander said there had been workshops around the possibility of combining them to create two parishes, or even a single parish.
''We're just brainstorming things at this stage,'' she said.
''Whatever we choose, we want to have as much feedback from the parishioners and the community before we go ahead.''
Mrs Alexander said if the four parishes were to merge into one, it would not necessarily mean that the separate worship centres would go.
''The conversation will continue at an informal level. If we were to become one parish, there is still the question of how many worship centres we would retain,'' she said.
Mrs Alexander said better co-operation between the parishes on organising activities such as school holiday programmes could also be an option in the interim.
Mr Starky said there was also the option of moving towards one worship centre, which should bring all the related groups, such as Anglican Care, into one place.
''The Canterbury Diocesan faces a number of challenges, from rising insurance costs to diminished parish rolls,'' he said.
Mr Starky said the Canterbury earthquakes had hugely affected the state of the church's buildings.
St Mary's building was closed indefinitely in February after two preliminary reports showed parts of the hall and church were only strengthened to 10 per cent of current building codes. The parish has since held its services at Craighead Diocesan School's chapel, as it awaits another engineer's report.
''Craighead have been great, but we're looking forward to the day we can go back into our building,'' Mrs Alexander said.
She said St Mary's parish had also discussed holding shared worship with some of the other parishes while they waited.
Mr Starky hoped some more concrete proposals could be put forward to the Christchurch Diocesan Synod in September.
The parishes would also discuss ways to encourage younger membership.
''Every church has its cherished buildings, activities or style of worship, but the top priority is to maintain our standing in the community,'' he said.
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