To the locals of the Christchurch Diocese a proposal, say, on the 3rd September 2010 for the Christchurch Anglican Cathedral and Parish of St John's Latimer Square to co-share a site together, would have been met with stares of incomprehension, along with some pastoral concern for the mental well being of the proposer. This concern and incomprehension would have arisen because of perceptions and convictions that each stood for highly different versions of what being Anglican means: to invoke labels, one for Reformed Protestant low church Anglicanism and one for liberal Catholic high church Anglicanism. But today at 1 pm it has been announced that the vacant (after all property was demolished) St John's site on the corner of Madras and Hereford Streets will house the transitional "cardboard" cathedral for as long as it takes to build a new cathedral. It is the closest piece of 'spare' church land to the site of the permanent cathedral in the Square. The transitional cathedral is expected to be up and running by Christmas 2012.
What has made the difference since 3 September 2010? In one word, earthquakes. St John's has become an empty site with flexibility as to what is built there. The cathedral is irreparably damaged. The worshipping congregations of St John's are happily settled into alternative worship spaces; the congregations of the cathedral have been hosted generously in the chapel at Christ's College but such arrangement has always been provisional. Going forward both ministry units will have their administration on a shared site but likely the congregations of the cathedral only will worship in the new building which, eventually, will become the parish's worship centre (or one of them) when the new permanent cathedral is opened.
I congratulate all concerned who have negotiated the agreement which has led to this announcement.
Here are some artistic impressions of the new transitional cathedral