Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Some Presbyterian views on the Christchurch earthquake

There have been some messages sent through to a group I'm on (and they've gone to other groups too, I understand) from two or three Presbyterian ministers in relation to the earthquake yesterday. There particularly interesting because they're from eyewitnesses. Here's part of one from Geoff King, whose church (Knox) was already damaged in the first earthquake in September:

Thank you for the messages and prayers of support that greeted me as I switched on the computer this morning - power was restored to our place around 9.30 last night but I was still dealing with texts and trying to find somewhere for the family to sleep in the mess of our manse. At midnight I accepted a friend's offer to take [my wife] and our two boys north to catch the ferry to the North Island, so it's just our dog and I getting ready for another day.

I walked home from what remained of Knox yesterday afternoon surrounded by scenes of devastation far worse than on 4 September. Whilst visiting a parishioner I spoke with one of his neighbours, whose husband was at that time unaccounted for in the Pyne Gould Guinness building in town. I walked for a while with a barefoot young woman whose workplace in the city had collapsed, and who told me of seeing a woman giving birth on the footpath. Later I passed others heading on foot with blankets and little else for Hagley Park, and wondered how they fared when the rain began to fall a couple of hours after that. Dinner was sausages cooked on the outdoor barbeque; I've drained the leaking hot water cylinder upstairs into several large water containers so can probably manage with that, whatever food there is in the fridge and a bucket toilet for several days.

Got around some of our older parishioners yesterday afternoon but by no means all of them - back on the bike after I've had breakfast today. It's hard to describe the destruction in the central city - modern buildings have collapsed crumbled this time, and there is now no need for the reconstruction meeting that was planned for Knox tomorrow, as only the wooden pillars and roof are still standing - I am profoundly relieved that no one was injured when the wall on Bealey Ave collapsed towards traffic. I've heard that at least one bus in the central city was not so fortunate, and all of us are anxiously awaiting the release of the names of those who've died. I've closed the Knox Centre as a precaution - whilst the newer building is still standing the rear wall of the church collapsed through the gallery and hall/centre stairwell, so may have damaged the centre's outer wall.

And a shorter one from another minister:

Trinity Pacific is in a really bad way including fire. As is Knox. Centre of town looks like a bomb site. I was next to Durham street Methodist as it collapsed in a pile of stones . Thank you for your prayers.

The Pacific church she's referring to had already had a fire before the September earthquake.

And finally, from Martin Stewart:

Thanks to you all for your messages of prayer and thoughts - so far from what I have been able to find out we have four churches in considerable strife (all were damaged in September) - fortunately the workers on the St Paul's trinity Pacific restoration were on lunch break and all got out.
This church is diagonally opposite the devastated CTV building.
Our Methodist friends have had more damage and there are reports of three people still missing on the Durham St Methodist Church which was ironically being made safe. The Methodist Connexional Offices are closed with some damage to that building.
The pic [photo - above right] is of Oxford Terrace Baptist Church which totally collapsed. Knox Church is also one of the significantly damaged Pressie buildings.
Time will tell as to whether the ones lost are known in our church families, but we all feel emotionally drained in a way different from September because of the loss of many lives.
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