Showing posts with label Christchurch. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christchurch. Show all posts

21 March 2012

After the Christchurch earthquake

The Christchurch earthquake in February 2011 seriously damaged the 19th century cathedral as well as causing terrible additional damage and many deaths. It is now certain the building must be demolished. What should replace it?

Christchurch Cathedral after the earthquakeNoah Cremisino has posted an article about the lovely old cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand. The remains of the old building are unsafe and unrepairable. He asks his readers to suggest what should replace it at the centre of the city.

Although I'm an outsider and have never visited New Zealand, I'd still like to offer some suggestions. But first, I believe the city should give itself plenty of time to consider the options.

If the building cannot be saved, perhaps the best thing would be to demolish the remains quickly, perhaps leaving some of the fallen stones where they lie as a memorial to those who lost their lives in the city. Then turn the rest of the site into a temporary garden until a decision can finally be made. There is no hurry and there will be many needs that are far more urgent and pressing, probably for some years to come.

I would like to think that any new building would be a modern, earthquake resistant structure, but echoing some of the cathedral's iconic features - maybe a square tower and spire of the same size in the same place (a steel skeleton or a full building), some patterns similar to the geometric design from the old roof, even some of the original carved ornamentation reused to create landscape features.

Consider using the ground floor of any new structure as a multi-purpose space for concerts, large church gatherings, temporary exhibitions etc. Include rooms of various sizes as well as a place for coffee, an earthquake library, a before and after photo display, etc.

Most importantly, involve the city's population in making suggestions and voting on ideas before any final choices are made.

You might like to review how Coventry Cathedral in the UK was rebuilt after its destruction in a World War II air raid. The old ruins and the new building are full of messages for anyone with eyes to see. It's a different culture and a different era so there's no direct application from Coventry to Christchurch. But you might do something very different yet still draw on some principles from the Coventry experience.

In fact, why not contact the city and cathedral of Coventry and set up a Christchurch/Coventry exchange or twinning arrangement? Compare notes and visit one another's cities.

But that's more than enough from an interfering old Brit. I'm confident that the city and people of Christchurch will come up with a really great way to use this tragically available city space. What better way to end this article than a quote from the Bishop of Christchurch, Victoria Matthews.
The Diocese of Christchurch promises to work with the people of Christchurch-Canterbury as we recover together. We are a resurrection people. No amount of death and destruction will defeat us.
See also: Christchurch Cathedral's website

24 February 2011

RESPONSE - Noah in Christchurch

It's still possible (even likely) that a few more survivors may be pulled from the devastation that is Christchurch right now. But the focus is already moving to recovering bodies and restoring vital services. In the middle of the destruction comes an item about Noah and Kate Cremisimo.

Position of Christchurch (red circle)Noah and Kate moved to Christchurch, New Zealand from Denver, USA. They are church planters focussing especially on starting small, organic and reproducible expressions of church life, mostly meeting in homes, offices, and other small settings.

Noah writes that although their home suffered only minor damage and seems to be structurally sound, there is no power, no water, and no sewerage and none of those services are likely to be restored soon because damage is so widespread. Clearly, repairing the city's infrastructure is urgent and important but saving lives has to be the priority.

We should all pray for the people of Christchurch in their current distress and need. But in addition to that, Noah has a further prayer request. He writes...

Please pray that God will birth hundreds of simple communities from this situation... especially considering that SO many institutional churches will be unusable for quite a while.

Every church family is precious, whether it's small and informal or large and institutional in nature. But perhaps these small, local forms of church have the nimbleness and local knowledge to help their immediate neighbours in ways that are particularly appropriate during the aftermath of an earthquake.

Pray for Noah and Kate, for their friends and neighbours, and for the local church in every size and shape and form, that they will be at the forefront of helping those around them. Together as one family serving one Almighty Father may they be able to make a real difference.

Matthew 25:31-46 seems relevant here. There will be many in Christchurch and the surrounding area who will be hungry, thirsty, friendless, sick or without shelter or money or suitable clothes. There will be some who are grief-stricken, not knowing where to turn, without friends or family. Some will need practical help, many will just need a listening ear. And some may need emotional support for years to come. May the church bless them all and provide whatever they need.

Noah and Kate will be in the thick of it. And later they will have some extraordinary stories to tell - but not just yet.

You can learn more about Noah and Kate at 'Stories from the Revolution'.

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