Saturday, October 29, 2011


This morning's Press continues the unfolding now public story of the future possibilities for our Anglican cathedral here in Christchurch (i.e. another story of unfolding future possibilities re our Roman Catholic cathedral is yet to come).

In today's chapter (told here) of what I can assure you will be a long-running saga,we find this 'technical' section re figures,

"Once the cathedral has been stabilised, cathedral leaders will consider four options for the future of the building. One involves the complete demolition and rebuilding, which is not favoured by Matthews and Dean Peter Beck.

The other three options retain between 20 and 70 per cent of the building.

The funding shortfall for the options range from $30m to $50m on top of any insurance claim.

Matthews declined to reveal the value of the insurance coverage, but the building is insured for only 70 per cent of the rebuild cost. "
Put like that, the rebuild sounds like going to the supermarket and standing in front of the bread section contemplating whether to buy a loaf at $1.67, or $2.10, or $3.50.

In reality it will not be like that at all. $30m - $50m is money our diocese does not have. The choices before us include another set of choices about how the funds for the option chosen are raised, and logically the decision-making process must include the possibility that eventually we may need to choose to build a building within the insurance funds available to us. That is we face a large and complex range of inter-related choices which are nothing like wondering how much to spend on a loaf of bread! Of course the choices could be reduced quickly if donors stepped forward and offered (say) $40m without any fund-raising strategy needing to be considered. That could happen: there are wealthy people and businesses in Canterbury committed to making Christchurch great again.But we need to plan as though that isn't going to happen.

In a word, what lies before the diocese in relation to the cathedral is 'huge'; and that 'huge' is in an equation with another 'huge', what to do re all the other broken buildings, and another 'huge', the impact of insurance premiums on our parishes (as on all NZ churches). Three x huge = huge to the power of huge?

Brothers and sisters, pray for wisdom for us!

PS I am working on a response to as yet unaddressed comments made earlier in the week re the Communion as a big tent. But Timaru and a seminar on 'Preaching Mark's and John's Gospels' beckons and I shall go there first ...


Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, the differecne between raising up the Cathedral and re-building damaged churches in the diocese - is that the Cathedral is the Mother Church of the whole diocese. In Christchurch is is part of our founding culture, and many of our citizens want to see it replaced as soon as possible to connect us with our roots.

As a citizen of Coventry at the time of the Blitz and after, I remember the enthusiasm that was present for the Cathedral to be replaced as soon as possible after the war. It became a symbol of the hope we had for peace and stability

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
Broadly speaking I am in agreement with you, but when we talk about 'the Mother Church' of the Diocese, we are also talking about the Diocese, and thus part of the choices in the situation are the decisions we will make about how the Diocese will engage in decisions regarding the future of the Mother Church, as well as the choices we will make as a Diocese in that decision-making process.

I imagine the Diocese will consider it a 'huge' decision to be faced with (say) three possible ways forward involving $30m or $40m or $50m of fund-raising, depending on the choice made.

Andrew Reid said...

Hi Peter,

Just a question on the insurance...was the Cathedral not covered for complete re-building in the case of disaster? I'm just trying to understand why there is a shortfall of $30-50M. I understand there are often trade-offs between premium costs and levels of cover, and this is not a criticism of choices the diocese made.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrew
Great question to which I do not know the answer.

In broad terms I believe the cathedral had very good insurance cover, but perhaps it is not a full replacement cover, or perhaps even a full replacement cover does not cover a building which will only partially incorporate the old building?