Parishes gather in safe home

Last updated 05:00 10/12/2012
South Canterbury Churches
Fairfax NZ
COSTLY STRENGTHENING: St Paul’s Church in Highfield, top, and Chalmers Presbyterian Church in Timaru.

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Earthquake strengthening work on Timaru's Chalmers Presbyterian Church is estimated to cost in excess of $1 million, while between $400,000 and $800,000 would be required to strengthen St Paul's Church in Highfield.

Decisions on the future of the two properties as well as Trinity Church in College Rd will be made by the Timaru Presbyterian Parish over the next two years.

The four congregations, St Stephens on Wai iti Rd, Trinity on College Rd, Chalmers Church at the corner of Theodosia and Elizabeth streets, and St Pauls on Seddon St, are now working towards moving the parish to a single site at the Wai iti Rd property. That decision was made last month with 92 per cent of those voting being in favour of the single location, minister Dr Susan Jones said.

"The whole parish is a lot more positive as it has a new mission and action plan which looks to the future."

The congregation of the whole parish, rather than those who had come from the individual congregations, will vote on what happens to all the remaining properties.

Mrs Jones said they will consider whether to either "turn them into liquid assets" or keep them and use them to provide the church with a financial income. Those decisions will be made over the coming two years.

Estimates for earthquake repairs to the buildings range from tens of thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands, but it was the strengthening work required that was much more expensive.

Strengthening of St Pauls church is estimated to cost between $400,000 and $800,000. The back section of the church was roped off days after the September 2010 earthquake and then a month later, following an engineers report, it was decided to close the church completely.

Chalmers Church was closed in November last year after it was discovered the building's structural strength was well below present-day requirements. While the earthquake damage to the building was not serious, estimates for upgrading the double brick building's structural strength were around $1m.

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- The Timaru Herald

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