Earthquake damaged South Canterbury church brought back to life
A South Canterbury church has been re-dedicated seven years after it was damaged in the Canterbury earthquakes.
The Church of the Holy Innocents at Mt Peel was officially re-dedicated in a special morning service on Sunday, marking the final chapter in a $1.6 million restoration process.
The service was the last for Geraldine's Reverend John Hayhoe, who will soon leave the parish to move back to the United Kingdom with his family.
Bishop for Christchurch Victoria Matthews - fresh from the Anglican synod that decided to restore the earthquake-damaged Christ Church Cathedral in Christchurch - led the service, accompanied by Arch Deacon Peter Carrell.
The ceremony referred to the church's early days as it was lit by a combination of candles and traditional gas lamps.
Matthews said that the church bell should "ring out with both joy and thanksgiving as we both remember and anticipate the future".
A special element of the rebuilt church was the new stained glass window, which incorporated some of the glass from the window damaged in 2010.
The space occupied by the new window, at the east gable end of the building, was an area that had required the most restoration work: it had largely collapsed in the earthquake.
The roof and walls are now pinned together so they will not concertina in another big quake.
Matthews noted several other restored churches had been reopened across Canterbury in the wake of the earthquake.
The Mr Peel church had a special feel to it.
"When it is a small church like this, there's an intimacy that you don't have with some of the bigger churches ... historically and in the community this church is a very important presence.
"The community here is particularly aware of both local and provincial history in a way that someone who has only lived in Christchurch for six months of the rebuild isn't."
Parishioner John Acland, who led the reconstruction effort, made special mention of Ashburton Intermediate School, which was the first donor to the rebuild effort.
"Every year they come up here and camp around Geraldine, and Rose [Acland] gives them a history lesson.
"When they found out the church was damaged they gave us $1000 they had raised for us."
Acland's great grandfather John Barton Arundel Acland, built the church in 1868 and gifted it to the community.
Acland told the congregation the next service at the church would be on Holy Innocents Day, on December 28.