In today's Press it is fascinating to read this report of minutes of a cathedral chapter meeting in May 2011:
"Minutes from a May 2011 cathedral chapter meeting read to the court yesterday revealed the building was to be scrapped five months before the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) deemed it unsafe. Minutes recorded revealed:The old cathedral "glorified God in the old tradition" and a new cathedral could glorify God in the New Zealand tradition.
Reluctance to go back to "how things were" and "huge opportunities" existed for a new building.
The cathedral was "more than just a building", it was the "heart and soul of the city".
The old cathedral was "important to many people who actually took nothing from it". A new one should "give more" to them."
I wonder what it means to "glorify God in the New Zealand tradition"? This tradition surely includes glorifying God within old buildings heavily influenced by English and European tradition, even as it expands to incorporate glorifying God in a Maori, Polynesian, globalised 21st century culture (cafe church, fresh expressions, etc) and other ways. But to say that scarcely touches the surface of what makes our tradition "New Zealand" when "New Zealand" includes a world of fourth and fifth generation Kiwis, recent immigrants from many countries, songs from around the world, constant movement of people and their ideas between Australia and NZ, clergy arriving from other countries but predominently from "old" Christian regions such as Britain, Ireland, and North America, theological interaction via conference speakers, the internet and reading books (again, often with keen engagement with ideas coming from "old" Christian regions), habits and customs which are distinctive to us (but sometimes in ways we could critique more than we do: are we over-casual and super-informal?). And so forth ... we might also mention a propensity in our NZ church to utilise the liturgical resources of other churches around the globe. I was once part of a parish which regularly used a "Kenyan eucharistic prayer." But then more and more Africans are migrating to NZ and finding their way into Anglican churches. Tis a complicated thing, this "New Zealand" tradition! It would be wonderful to learn sometime how our architects are exploring the "New Zealand tradition" alongside their recent tour of North American and European cathedrals.
Rather than talking about 'tradition', I suspect a more accurate way of expressing the situation in respect of glorifying God would be to talk about the design of our older NZ cathedrals constraining worship towards a style we are moving away from (but not letting go of completely) so the opportunity for a new cathedral in the 21st century opens up possibilities for worshipping God free of such constraint. A well designed cathedral today should permit worship according to old and new prayer books, according to ancient cathedral tradition and according to new expressions of liturgy (e.g. liturgical dance, dramatic action, rock band-on-a-stage). The merits of Holy Trinity cathedral in Auckland, for instance, can be much debated in respect of its fusion of 'old' and 'new' (it has to be seen in person to be believed that something so [fill in word to express your reaction] could be commissioned). While reactions to this hybrid vary, there is no doubt that it permits a variety of worship styles to be explored.
In further local news, the guidelines for the very important Structural Review Group are published on our diocesan website, here.
Here is the key section:
"Vision: To prayerfully consider, review and recommend the future shape of the Diocese of Christchurch giving glory to God and a sure foundation for the future.