I am thrilled to be able to balance my last post with this one about a suburban church in the Diocese of Dunedin.
I have just learnt that the parish is to give 2 half stipends (wages) for the next year to the bishop of Christchurch and to the Maori bishop of the South Island. That amounts to $50,000 and means we can only do the minimum needed to repair the parish hall (the support piles are rotting).
Bishop Kelvin of Dunedin has written that both bishops were initially stunned that any single parish could be so generous. (In NZ the Anglican church is divided into the 3 Tikangas or cultures - Maori, Pacific Islander and Pakeha (White). This is not apartheid, just makes running the church much easier, all are welcome at any church but, just a small example, today our church had harvest festival with fruit and vegetables in the sanctuary a very European tradition. The Maoris believe this is a sacrilege.)
Bishop Victoria of the Diocese of Christchurch has been struggling to keep her head above water. In the centre of town the only Anglican church left standing has been the ancient wooden church of St Michael's and All Angels, and the school attached to the church has been badly damaged. The churches in the Western suburbs, traditionally the powerhouses of the diocese are all struggling to meet the needs of their communities and in the Eastern suburbs, the smaller more impoverished churches are trying to deal with the huge social and physical upheaval caused by the liquefaction and destruction of houses. On hearing of St John's offer, Bishop Victoria was able to move immediately to establish a one year position of a pastoral coordinator in the East of the city.
Bishop John of the Maori South Island Pihopatanga O te Wai Pounamu reacted at first with utter silence then tears. This was the first bit of good news he had had in two weeks. The Maori diocese has, over the past years, put all of its efforts and resources into building a new marae, church and educational centre and the costs had stressed the diocese to its limits. The building would have served as a training centre for Maori leaders, and as a worship, resource, meeting and social services base. it was almost complete when the quake struck and utterly destroyed it. The budget had been so tight that it was grossly underinsured and years of work disappeared in a couple of minutes. The bishopric has been ministering, physically, emotionally and spiritually to a wide clientele who live in the East and are under resourced in every sense of the word.
Bishop Kelvin has further written "Believe me the maximum value will be wrung out of every cent. But believe me also, that the sign of solidarity that the money represents has meant more to the Pihopatanga than the actual dollars and cents. For myself, I cannot tell you how proud I am of you all in making this act of generosity. In doing the work of the Kingdom of God, this is absolutely huge and will have repercussions far beyond anything you can imagine. Thank you for doing what is right."
I have been considering this post for a while. I can now post it along with the following post which will balance the bad news with much better news.
When I was considering moving to Dunedin I considered becoming a parishioner of the cathedral. On my visit in 2006, it seemed quite vibrant with an excellent Dean and a partnered gay man had just become deacon and was an associate in the cathedral. When I returned in 2008 the Dean had become bishop of Waiotapu (Napier) and there was a temporary dean. The partnered gay man was now an associate priest. There was a website.
By the time I moved here in 2010 a new Dean had been installed. However the website was 6 months out of date. I emailed about that but received no reply. I therefore began worshipping at St John's Roslyn 3 Sundays per month and the other Sunday at the cathedral where the service and music is more to my taste. I learnt that the cathedral has financial problems and heard there were dissensions.
A few months ago it was announced in the city paper that the musical director, David Burchell had been sacked. He apparently had continual problems with one or two parishioners who I have been reliably informed are each a sandwich short of a picnic. Apparently it is easier to sack a musical director, no matter how excellent he may be, than remove some parishioners who can probably not sing a note.
The musical director was immediately snapped up as organist at the Catholic cathedral but that does not pay as well as a musical director. He is already the city organist and choir master for the city choir who immediately moved their rehearsals (and rent) from the cathedral. We have joked in our parish that we now have refugees both from Christchurch and the Dunedin cathedral. While not much ,I no longer give a quarter of my offertories to the cathedral. At a recent city concert David received a very large round of applause. The cathedral has managed to alienate many of the music lovers in the city. It remains to be seen if the cathedral is chosen for future musical concerts.
Meanwhile the website is now more than 18 months out of date and now the notice board at the front of the cathedral is rarely updated. It use to list weekly activities and the Sunday services and preacher. I found it useful and I am sure the many tourists who visit also made use of it. Two weeks ago, at the beginning of March, the January notices were still up and they referred to the shortened program common in the southern hemisphere holiday time. I went into the office and told the poor man at the desk (but the door to the dean's office was open) that it was a disgrace. An updated notice was put up a few days later but now more than a week later it is again out of date.
From what I hear and observe they should have sacked the Dean instead of the musical director but guess that is a much more involved process. I had heard he was lazy and if he cannot be bothered updating the church noticeboard then I tend to believe it may be true.
It is very sad to see this state of affairs. In searching for a new photo I stumbled on a recent Ship of Fools review. A comment was made about the lack of music at a so called Sung Eucharist but that was the week after David was sacked. The lack of numbers in the congregation was also noted and although I have not attended this year I know the numbers last year were pathetic and they are probably smaller now.
I have received this from a friend. He is an airline steward and was out of town in the USA at the time. He is now based in Auckland but his ex-wife and daughter still live in Christchurch. He received txts from them at the time and has since returned to stay with them. Hi All Thank you so much for all your prayers and thoughts for my family friends and city. Well what to say, my family and friends are all safe. They all have stories which they are eager to tell. My ex *elia burst into tears and shook as we hugged at the airport. We were in the airport pick up zone, we hurried as its underneath carparking building. She worked in the centre of town, she had decided to work through her lunch instead of going to Holy Cross Chapel. That decision may have saved her life what she does know is that Holy Cross that she normally goes to at lunch time was totally destroyed and the route she normally takes is covered by bricks and collapsed shop frontages. When the quake hit their bolted down desks uprooted and she was hit shes thinks by it or the computer, she is bruised all down one side but she never noticed till the next day. They ran down the stairs (I believe the rear of her building collapsed but never pushed it), on the street was chaos, she saw things she should not have seen. There was a man shouting keep down the centre of the road, some of the photos you have seen is the street where she worked, it should take 15 minutes to get to our daughter. It took 21/2 hours. The roads were clogged with traffic, cracks in the road geysers of silt and mud, what appeared to be sink holes, she had to drive over traffic islands,she got lost but people were kind and gave her directions as she could not see the map properly. She toyed with abandoning the car as people were walking faster than cars. Maya had finally been able to contact her, when I eventually got through (it took ages) *elia was crying, could hardly breath, she had inhaled gases, dust and was suffering from shock. Maya had been at school and was walking outside and going to get her books, the windows were bulging but her school had been earthquake proofed, the girls were gathered in the sports field. Maya left me a message on my cell, I still cannot decifer what the message was she was so upset. I was able to get hold of her eventually and she was okay, quiet calm and she was able to tell me *elia was alright. My brother was out of town, last time he played a pivotal role within our family. When I spoke to him he was driving 6 hours to get back. At that time he knew his daughter, girlfriend, our mother were okay. He had not been able to get hold of his son nor his exwife. All are safe My brother in law was in one of the cities hotel having lunch, he ran out of the restaurant on the ground floor, the building opposite had collapsed, he like so many people abandoned his laptop and car and started the long run out to his home. He was lucky he thumbed a ride and a shuttle driver picked him up and coincidentally was going to the same place. He got hit by something and has a hurt leg but did not notice till later that night. He still has the napkin from the restaurant A friend of mine, was in an old building in town, they rushed to get out but the quake had jammed the door shut, the whole structure had moved, it took ages to get out. The tears in his eyes as he told me what happened. My friend works in the largest shopping mall on the east side of town, he too abandoned everything including wallet and house keys. He waded through the mud, water and sewage to get home. His partner works 15 minutes walk in the other direction, he was not home, so he went to the back up meeting place, then to other friends places. He knew his partner was okay but it took along time to find him. My friend has I guess what you call a tick now when he talks about his experience. He suspects the Mall will be condemned My brothers ex wife was at school in the staffroom, they all thought gee that was one out of the box. One of the local radio stations said more or less the same. It was not until calls got through did they realise how serious it had been. The death toll is now 154 and 200 plus are listed as missing. The thing with living in a small city of 400,000 is that either you know someone or knows someone who knows someone. Sadly this is the case, I have several friends who know someone in the ctv and pgg sites. Its so sad, what can you say The side of town where my family live has hardly been touched, we have a few more cracks in our houses, my front fence fell over in an aftershock just on friday. We have power on and water and sewage. There was a morning when we did not have water, but we had water flowing down the street so I got buckets and scooped up the water for the bathroom. My sister in laws house is on top of one of the hills in redcliffs. It will be condemned, the land is cracked and the three level house has cracked and support structures damaged. Saturday her partner and I gathered clothes, papers and a few possessions. I have to confess I was scared as hell, he said its freaky I thought to myself not freaky I am scared stiff, in case an aftershock hits it could fall down. We got told off when we got back. I have a new found respect for the search and rescue guys I tell you – they are the bravest men The noise of helicopters drone all the time, its an airy sound. Going to redcliffs was indescribable, as I drove, I left my side of town which as I said was unscathed, then as I approached the edge of the city centre, the cracks in the road appeared, the once flat road undulates/rolling, the silt/mud from the liquefaction appears, I looked down streets that have been cordoned off and I could see the police and soldiers and army vehicles. Its quite a shock to see the army deployed on your streets. There are portaloos and water distribution points on street corners The closer I got to Redcliffs the more destruction I could see. The seascape has changed, Shag Rock has gone, there are sandbars (?) that were previously never there. Houses with no walls, no roof, rocks that have smashed through walls. Its shocking. After helping gather some possessions, I put a spade in the back of the car and went off in search of one of the working groups clearing the streets of the East side of town, I drove till I found just a small group of guys, we cleared one streets gutters so they water could flow, cleared the drive way entrances and then helped clear up an elderly gentlemans backyard. He had no water or power but still gave us a glass of juice. The 3 guys I worked with, 2 lived in a street 2 blocks away (themselves with no water nor power), the other was like me came from apart of town which was okay. Then I drove and found a young father trying to clear a huge pile of sand/mud from his front yard. While we were working a group of 5 joined us, again living outside the area. The liquefaction is weird, its dark grey and there is so much of it, sometimes you just don’t know where it came from, maybe a small hole/crack and yet the amount is amazing. As it dries it’s a grey dust, the dust swirls. You probably have heard theres been some looting, its bloody awful and the low lifes should get life imprisonment-but that’s a tiny minority. Talking with the people, there is a sense of overwhelming sadness with the deaths this time, the destruction in the east part of town and the central city being devastated, there is also knowledge this is not going to be a quick fix – it will be years, that with the cbd devastated where and what are the 50,000 who work in the cbd, what are they going to do. The future is unclear. With so many buildings in the cbd to be demolished. What everyone says though, is that we are alive and safe - bricks and mortars do not matter. Ours prayers and thoughts are with those who have lost someone and those who are waiting news of their loved ones.
Talking to Maya yesterday, she likes to be with lots of people, she feels more secure when theres more than just her and her mum. She sounds back to her normal cheery self. *elia is sounding better too, she is at work today, they are working out of someones house. My Mother is doing better as well. My niece has been sent to Auckland to friends, my brothers girlfriend is working out of Auckland for the time being. So things are moving forward which is good.
Its one week one hour since the quake. As Brian has said the country stopped at 1251 to remember, thank you Brian for attending the Octagon and for taking the video. 85% have power, 55,000 have no sewage system. 50,000 have left by air and another 20,000 expected by the end of the week. The aftershocks are expected to fall off markedly. Today they found a time capsule buried by our forfathers – not sure when or by whom.
There is a real strength and sense of community, people are banding together to help out, helping people we have never seen before and never will again, offering up their homes to house people, clearing streets, cooking and airlifting hot meals to areas where there is nothing. Free bbqs, giving a strangers hugs, giving people lifts in cars. A taxis giving free transport. Cantabrians are a resilient lot.
We are all so grateful to the international community, with the extra police and search and rescue teams are fantastic, these are truly the bravest of the brave. Again I would like to say thank you for all the kind words, thoughts and prayers – I have passed it on. It means a lot to me and to us
A national two-minutes' silence at 12.51pm today would be marked in the Octagon, remembering those affected by the Christchurch earthquake, Mr Cull (Mayor of Dunedin) told yesterday's meeting.
The Octagon event would begin at 12.15pm, with a string quartet from the Southern Sinfonia performing, followed by the singing of the national anthem at 12.40pm, an address by Mr Cull and the two minutes' silence.
The City of Dunedin Choir and the Dunedin RSA Choir would then lead the crowd in a rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone.
Mr Cull said he hoped to fill the Octagon, and urged as many people as possible to wear red and black clothing to show their support for Christchurch.
A retired teacher librarian who loves travelling especially by train and wastes a lot of time on the Internet.
An Anglican who knows God loves me as a gay man.
Moved at the beginning of 2010 from the Blue Mountains near Sydney, Australia to Dunedin, NZ.
One of the best things I ever did.
I became a New Zealand citizen on 2nd March 2016
I will always be an Aussie by birth but am proud to be a Kiwi by choice.