Future of Church Buildings

When the Presbyterians of this parish built a new church at 43 St Martin’s Road-still standing and looking intact-they constructed an attractive building with a useful layout. Since 4 Sept 2010, your Board of Managers sought first to ensure that the building was safe. With its strength of 19% of the New Building Standard our right to legally occupy has not been in doubt. When the Hall became unsafe, its demolition was arranged. The Board then negotiated the insurance payment for damage to the Hall and Church.

In 2012 the Presbyterian Church authorities declared that all its buildings must meet 67% of New Building Standard. After consultation with the Session, the Board has developed detained plans to strengthen the church. Rob Connell, one of our organists but more importantly for this conversation, a person who trained as a civil engineer, will talk about these plans. An alternative plan, that of demolishing and rebuilding was proposed by David Hodder in December 2012 and he will talk about it

1. On the basis of plans provided by our engineer, the Quantity Surveyor has arrived at a figure of $391,500 plus GST to strengthen the church to the required standard.. The insurance payout for damage to church and hall, less GST, is just over $448,000. Strengthening, as I’ve said on an earlier occasion, would be unobtrusive, and the church would retain its subtle beauty.

The Board knows that improvements to the kitchen are overdue and more toilets desirable. With the insurance payout nearly that of the cost of strengthening, and weekly offerings not covering our regular expenses, any upgrades would require fund raising.

There are of course, two other buildings on the site. About three years ago, work to bring the old Bible Class rooms up to a modern standard was costed at about $16,000 .

As yet, we have not debated whether we need a hall. Earlier, you will remember that we found out that a Christchurch secondary school is going to have recently-built portacoms, surplus to requirements later this year. One of these might replace our hall.

2.The church building is a home for the people of God. To the wider community it stands as a permanent reminder that we worship God and seek to serve others.

On the St Martin’s foundation stone is a paraphrase of Jesus’s words: “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God.”. The Rev Bob Sprackett, minister here in the late 1950s, worked strenuously to ensure our present church was built. Shortly after its completion, he took three months’ leave to work in a refugee resettlement hostel in Hong Kong.

The congregation continues this outward-looking stance. There is strong support for the Waltham Cottage. Many among us regard their work as a calling. Some help with reading recovery programmes; others with meals on wheels. Of the retired ministers among us, one has worked to alleviate leprosy, another in Asian churches. There are members who are working, or have worked, in Presbyterian Support or other social service organisations. There are former VSA workers. The congregation as a whole supports Samaritan’s Purse, the Your Sisters school in Tanzania and Christian World Service.

Whatever our faults and failings, we have a broad vision and a record of community outreach.

We readily let community groups use our facilities. This usage is quite light. The stress on a community focus is worthy, but some hard thinking is needed before embarking on building or renovations specifically for this.

3.What is the point of having a sacred space? :
As we worship God, we are strengthened by our fellowship in the Holy Spirit and renew our commitment to serve in the name of Christ.

To put it another way: In our church, we gain inspiration and new energy.

John C McKean
March 2013

My main purpose was to give some details of an alternative building design and estimated costs, compared to the estimate for repairing our damaged existing church building. A number of parish members have viewed the Deerstalkers Clubrooms at 599 McLeans Island Rd, which was professionally built for $330,000 in 2010/11 – opened 29 May 2011. No voluntary labour was used.
That building is based on a proprietry Totalspan metal-framed and metalclad building measuring 12m x 24m on a steel reinforced concrete pad, with a height to the gutters of approx 4m. The metal shell was timbered and insulated and lined with grooved plywood sheets and oil stained. The ceiling was also insulated and lined with acoustic tiles. The heating and lighting are similar to our church building. The acoustics are very acceptable, and there are sound system speakers around the walls. (Shipleys) There is a mezzanine floor one end with a committee room and two store rooms above a kitchen and four toilet pan cubicles with their own wash basins, and a wheel-chair toilet/shower cubicle
Our present church building is also approx 12m x 24m but slightly higher with a gutter height of approx 5m. As per the Suckling/Stringer Quantity Surveyors cost estimate for the church repairs of $391,500 plus GST there are other fees-costs-consents-appliances-site works etc, which still does not allow for extra toilets, offices etc that we might like to have added. The seismic strengthening design will cause some changes to the buildings internal and external appearance. The end result will be a repaired 1950’s building which may not suit the future intended use by local church-goers or the community, without considerable additional expense.
Car parking for additional cars on the site may be a requirement of a new building consent.
If a more ’community – orientated’ building is desired we may want to re-position the location on the site so as to ‘front’ the street rather than have it set-back, like the present building, and make specific provision for car parks around the site.

David Hodder
March 2013