Saturday, May 28, 2011

Munted Christ Church Cathedral

Imagine my lack of surprise to open up this morning's Press to the headline, Damage to cathedral worse than first feared. Bit by bit since 22nd February the little I have been told about the cathedral has been of damage to all its major parts, and, crucially, to its stone pillars. I am very glad that this news is headlined today and the concerned citizens of Canterbury and members of the Diocese and all churches can engage with the questions which are now inevitable.* Do we want to rebuild it 'as it was' (albeit with new engineering to make it safe)? What to do if we want to rebuild it as it was but the engineers tell us something important will have to be different such as the tower not being as high, or the rebuilt walls being lower? Are funds from insurance and donations going to be enough to rebuild? What would it mean to go cap in hand to ratepayers and taxpayers for assistance (more letters in the paper today about public money meaning a multi-faith governance of the building)?

Or, big question, do we build a new building, according to funds available, with an eye on the needs of God's church for mission in the 21st century? Should we build such a building, even if a rebuild is possible?

O God, our help in ages past, guide us into the new age!

*Later clarification: informally we can now all talk about the cathedral as a badly damaged building for which no simple, speedy fix is going to take place. For formal processes of discussion about the future of the cathedral - to rebuild or to build a new cathedral - I presume we would need to wait for officially received engineering report(s) and insurance assessment(s).


Anonymous said...

Dear Peter

Please show me where in the article your big (and right) question is even an option and being considered; and how we can get our opinions into the process you described so well in your previous answer to me.



Peter Carrell said...

Hi Mark,
In the article the Dean is clearly open to receiving input from others, 'we listen to and seek guidance from both the church and the wider community.'

Yes, no process for doing that is named. I think it is early days yet for a process to be developed, and then wheeled out for the public to engage with. But already people are writing letters to the paper (cf. my earlier post), and messages are being sent to the Bishop directly. Our diocesan synods would be an opportunity for parish representatives to make their views known (and they are free to consult with their parishes prior to coming to synod). Given that the whole timeline of rebuilding or building a new cathedral will take years, we will have a few synods ahead of us.

I support the Dean not saying much about a process at this stage because so much is unknown in a formal sense. Any reader of this morning's Press can tell that the cathedral building is in very serious trouble, but that is not the same thing as an official peer-reviewed engineering report under consideration by church and civic authorities, to say nothing of insurance assessors reviewing it with a view to making what they consider to be the appropriate payout.

On the basis of my knowledge of the time being taken to secure engineering reports for other damaged buildings around town, it could be months before the Dean can say anything more than was reported in the paper today.