The Anglican Church in New Zealand has said the future of ChristChurch Cathedral, which has been derelict since an earthquake six years ago, will be decided this September. The Synod of the Diocese of Christchurch will rule on whether the cathedral should be restored—or demolished and replaced with a contemporary building. Local officials involved with the city’s regeneration have been pressing for a resolution and campaigners have called for immediate government intervention to restore the iconic cathedral. The diocesan property division has defended itself over allegations that it has dragged its feet.
Bishop Victoria Mathews said, “We are very aware that the city and beyond is very frustrated with the amount of time it has taken to reach a decision on the future of our beloved cathedral. Church Property Trustees (CPT) and the entire diocese share that frustration. After much thought and prayer I have decided to reserve the question on the future of the Cathedral in the Square to September 2017 for our diocesan Synod’s decision.
“As the ChristChurch Cathedral is a church building above all else, and a place of worship, the decision on its future should be made by the membership of the synod comprising the gathered clergy and laity of the diocese who will be using the Cathedral forever…To date the view of the church has been that we should proceed with a contemporary cathedral. In 2013 our synod voted for an inspirational cathedral. Recently the standing committee expressed its view that a new cathedral, costing no more than the insurance proceeds received for the cathedral building in the square, is its preferred option.
“For the past six and a half years Church Property Trustees and its staff have done extraordinary due diligence on different options regarding the future of the cathedral. This includes engineering investigations, quantity surveying and research into fundraising options. Along the way there has been active and passionate debate on what should be done,” said Bishop Mathews.
“We recently undertook a scientific survey of public preferences among residents from Greater Christchurch on the future of the ChristChurch Cathedral. The results of the research were clear. People’s preferences change when they are fully informed, but there is still no overwhelming preference. People are still divided over whether to reinstate the cathedral building in the square or to commit to building a contemporary cathedral that is inspirational and fit for [the} purpose. We will soon release the survey results.”