Anglicans about to start voting on cathedral

Christ Church Cathedral has been sitting derelict in the city centre for over six years.
DAVID WALKER/STUFF

Christ Church Cathedral has been sitting derelict in the city centre for over six years.

Anglicans are about to start voting on the fate of the Anglican cathedral.

The Synod, the Anglican governing body, will begin the vote after gathering for a second day of debate in Avonhead on Saturday morning. The voting process could take some time.

They are considering three options for the cathedral – restoration, demolition and new build, or gifting the building to the Government. The Government and Christchurch City Council have offered tens of millions in support of restoration.

Ahead of the vote, Synod passed an amendment to the restoration option that would cap the Anglican contribution to the approximately $42 million insurance payout on the cathedral.

The amendment was supported by regeneration minister Nicky Wagner, who sent a text to Bishop Victoria Matthews.

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At the meeting this morning, Synod member and church property trustee Roger Bridge said he first believed in demolition and rebuild, but now favoured restoration.

"I have come to believe that is the only pragmatic way forward," he said.

"We need to restore the damage that has been done to the church's reputation."

Synod member Mark Hood of Avonhead said that an inspirational new cathedral could be built with the $42 million insurance payout after demolition.

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"We don't own a heritage building, we only own ruins."

Synod members also discussed the cathedral on Friday evening.

An amendment was passed for the demolition option to reuse features of the historic cathedral in any new building

"The project shall reuse such items, characteristics and features desirable, practical, and appropriate to retain a link to the past on which we stand as we grow into the future," the amendment stated.

Synod member Spanky Moore said the cathedral should be demolished,

"How much longer do we want to be seen and treated by the city and the state as a memorial to our colonial past and as a quaint embassy of England?"

"Synod is our only chance to finally change this."

"I don't care too much about the Anglican brand maintaining a nice reputation. I care about God's church offering Christchurch what only we can offer – the good news of Jesus Christ."

He said the Government offer was the church being "paid off to remain bound by the ways of the past."

Synod member Jean Shewan favoured restoration.

"I am feeling rebellious because I feel as if we are being bullied. I feel it is immoral to spend so much money on a building when there are hungry and homeless."

"Are we going to follow the people's will or God's will?"

Dee Ellis of Hororata also favoured restoration.

"As a representative of the rural community it is not the same for us. That cathedral is not the main focus of our faith."

One Synod member said the cathedral represented Christchurch's colonial past.

"We are not a colonial country anymore and the cathedral is a colonial building. For me this is a marvellous opportunity for us to look to the future."

Jenny Carter of Hororata said you cannot trust government promises.

"I've had the privilege of being in the Fire Service for some time now and have been on the end of many promises from government."

"We were promised individual face masks so when we go into the smoke we don't have to breath it. We have 14 in our brigade and we got two face masks."

 - Stuff

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