Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Game changer?

So, here's the thing. Until a couple of days ago the future of Christ Church Cathedral here in Christchurch seemed like an assessment of the merits of reinstatement with a large tens of millions (30-50m) fund shortfall to raise versus the merits of a new build cathedral, priced at under our $42m insurance proceeds (with a sum within the $42m allowed for future repairs, maintenance and insurance).

Then we had the announcement of a firmed up government offer ($10m plus $15m suspensory loan) plus a City Council offer ($10m, to be confirmed via public consultation), along with a clarified commitment from the GCBT fund-raisers ($13.7m). Fingers and thumbs, that is, $90.7m.

But is the total we need to reach $104m or $127m? The NZ Herald points us in the latter direction. Either way, the government would set up with CPT an independent fund-raising trust to get on with the job of raising funds. And the government would pass enabling legislation to fast track consenting requirements for the work to press ahead.

Incidentally, we could call the government offer a parliamentary offer because it has cross-party support: that is, no member of parliament is going to side with those who wish to see a new cathedral built. Our political masters, local and national, are batting for the one and the same side, singing from the same hymn sheet.

The question for our 7-9 September Synod, as we begin our pre-Synod meetings this week, is whether we now have a "game changer" influencing our deliberations.


Andrei said...

It's election year and all of this throwing taxpayers money around has absolutely nothing to do with the Glorification of God


Are they going to do the same for the Catholic Basilica?

What was the average Sunday attendance in the Cathedral in 2010?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei
(1) It has not yet been decided whether the Catholic basilica will be restored or not. That question awaits the decision of the new bishop and that bishop has not been appointed.
(2) I do not know the average attendance in 2010 but what I do clearly recall is attending worship at the cathedral on my first Sunday after arriving in Christchurch to begin my new position in the Diocese, a Sunday in late January 2010. The cathedral was full that day, with some 400 in attendance (my guestimate). It was clear, looking at a number of faces, that a considerable portion of the congregation were tourists to our city who had taken the short walk from the many hotels which were then close to or even in the Square itself.

Andrei said...

Peter, you know as well as I do that the Government is not going to put $25 million into the Catholic Basilica

And you know as well as I do that this gesture is all about Nicky Wagoner retaining Christchurch Central in November and has nothing to do with spreading the Gospel

I love the way that money taken under duress from the wages of those who clean the toilets at Auckland International Airport on the minimum wage is used to bribe Christchurch's Aristocrats by feeding their vanities

Andrei said...

I will add to the above - I personally think that the Christchurch Cathedral that was, was a late Victorian Folly and an ugly cold building that was not particularly inviting to worship - that's just me

But I thought and still think it is up to the Anglicans of Christchurch to determine its fate and to allocate the resources available to them as they see fit

And they have and if the Synod represents actual Anglicans who go to Church on Sunday in Christchurch then they have decided and their (IMHO wise) decision was that money can be better spent on other things rather than re-erecting that old building

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei
I do not see that the proposal will help Nicky Wagner's re-election chances one iota and she would not have cross-party support if the other parties thought this was about her re-election.
Support for the reinstatement of the cathedral goes well beyond the aristocracy of Canterbury. Lianne Diazell, for instance, is no member of that aristocracy but she is very keen on reinstatement, as, it would seem, are the rest of the Council.
The reinstated building will not be an exact replica and in certain ways it will be much more inviting and warm than the building was.
The Synod has never formally voted to build a new cathedral.
We have only formally voted for an inspiring cathedral and it is for the Synod this year to determine whether the proposed reinstatement is that inspiring cathedral or whether we need a new cathedral for that purpose.
What we once did was take an informal vote on which of three designs for a new cathedral we liked and the large majority was for the "modern" design.
Those designs are no longer under consideration and the background to that informal vote was different to today (e.g. we were presented with figures which suggested reinstatement would be over $200m).
As for the Catholic cathedral receiving govt/council money: the question of the location of that cathedral to the centre of the city is different and I imagine there might not be a grant of $25m for it. But I would be surprised if there was no grant for its reinstatement if that is what the new bishop decides. It would be worth investing in as it is a supremely beautiful building.

Andrei said...

Hmmm I would say Peter that a politician pulling a $25 million dollar rabbit out of a hat three months before a general election to resolve an issue that has been controversial for six years and that resonates in her electorate, upon which her hold is tenuous electorates looks suspiciously like checkbook politics to me...

Consider this then Peter from North Cape to Bluff there are Anglican (and other churches) in need of expensive repairs and modifications to meet more stringent earthquake standards - some have closed their doors already unable to manage this in the face of dwindling and aging congregations...

Anonymous said...

Who will own the building at the end of it? Will it be the church, or will the council and government want a say in it. If so when will they insist that it becomes a "multicultural spiritual centre for all faiths and none".

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter; I was born a cynic and am siding with Andrei. Perhaps more importantly, Anonymous above has a point. Aren't you joining yourselves with Caesar? Your Cathedral is going to become tangled up with non-Christian influences that could ultimately prove destructive. In fact, I think I'm being optimistic. Pull the thing down and pay for your own needs.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Anonymous and Nick
Documentation about the proposal (all available from the Cathedral Conversations website) is clear that the building is for worship and that Anglican own the building and the site.
Government and council money is being invested in heritage, architecture and getting the centre of the city moving again; but not in ownership, string pulling and what have you.
Not being born a cynic, Nick, I have to imagine what that is like :). But I imagine that if I were a born cynic I would be slightly tempted to suggest that if govt/council money were offered to also assist with the rebuild of the Chch basilica (which I hope it will be) then the Catholic church will accept it. After all, it accepts the government's provision of salaries for its school teachers!
PS And if Andrei is reading this comment, there is never any Russian government support for church buildings in Russia is there?

Andrei said...

"PS And if Andrei is reading this comment, there is never any Russian government support for church buildings in Russia is there?"

Christ the Saviour was not rebuilt without controversy Peter :)

There is plenty of controversy to go around when it comes to interactions between the Church and Governments

The question you have to ask yourself is are you building a Cathedral for the glorification of God or a disney world tourist attraction?

I don't think it is appropriate for the Church to take a huge election year bribe (which is exactly what this is your protests to the contrary not-with-standing) to build a white elephant given the parlous state of Christianity in this country and state of many other Anglican and other Churches in across the land which need urgent repairs to meet new earthquake standards

I will tell you this Peter, there are a great number of Anglican Churches in New Zealand that will be closing their doors within the next five years, there is one in my town that has already and the one down the road from me will within the year...

Andrei said...

Sorry to harp on Peter but ask yourself this:

Is the Cardboard Cathedral adequate to meet the needs of the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch in the Year of Our Lord 2017?

And if the answer to this is yes and I suspect it is then consider that you could build at least 15 of these if not 20 for the money this exercise in human vanity will cost.

If the Anglican Church was thriving in these Islands and the churches were full on Sunday morning then a $104+ million Cathedral might make more sense but if that were the case it probably would have happened already.

But as it is churches in this country are closing their doors because their dwindling congregations cannot manage the maintenance costs and you know this is true

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter; taking money from Caesar is, in my view, very unwise for a Christian church in an anti-Christian society. Borrowing money from Caesar (encouraged by local politicians) would be madness. Perhaps your bishop should move her throne to Timaru. As for Christchurch Catholic Cathedral (it is not designated a minor basilica by the Vatican and is not entitled to call itself such) will hopefully not borrow from the state.


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei
No the Cardboard Cathedral is not adequate for our needs, present and future.
It seats the regular congregation each week but it is insufficiently sized for larger services (we need a 1000 seat cathedral), it lacks a suitable smaller chapel for devotional services, daily offices during the week and for people to pray quietly in, undistracted by tourists and other visitors. Finally it has inadequate spaces for staff offices, choir practices and robing, and toilets are outside the building.
All these issues would be resolved in either a reinstated or in a new cathedral in the Square.

I don't think either option before us is an exercise in human vanity. Both options offer a witness to God in the heart of a city named after God's Son. Reinstatement, the more expensive option, offers continuity with the past of our city, telling the story of English settlement here, along with other buildings which have been or are being restored (old university, Christ's College, etc). The sums being spent on the latter (or for that matter, on reinstating the 1970s town hall are commensurate with the sum envisaged for the cathedral. I do not see all those projects as human vanity!

Jean said...

I shall reserve comment on what option would be best re the Cathedral and leave that to the good people at Synod; except to say if an agreement with council or government is made the ownership of and enduring purpose of the building as a place of Christian worship should be made clear and legally recorded. Although not all motives for restoration may be without an alterior motive I would like to think for many the wish to restore comes from a past association with the old Cathedral.

In respect to the money better spent elsewhere my understanding - which may be wrong and I am open to correction, is that the money allocated by the Anglican Church to the building of the Cathedral is restricted to being only for the Cathedral due to the conditions that accompanied the insurance funds.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Jean
That's right: the cathedral insurance money can only be spent on that cathedral site.
The moral question is whether we are happy for other money to be spent on the cathedral or not.
Although we cannot insist that (say) the govt spend its money on (say) social housing, if we did not accept that money, in theory it could be spent on something else.
Of course that something else might be further investment in the next America's Cup ... or a new frigate ... etc.
One reflection I offer re the moral argument is this: suppose all housing needs are provided for in Chch (and health and etc), then what kind of city are the housed and healthy people to live in? One with, or without a beautiful sacred space at its heart?

Father Ron said...

Andrei Said: "Are they going to do the same for the Catholic Basilica?".

In the context of the general situation of the proposed rebuild of the Anglican Cathedral in Christchurch, Andrei, you question would be considered by the GCBT advocates as a 'non-issue:

All on the basis of the FACT that the erection of the Anglican Cathedral in Christchurch, and its association with the establishment of an Anglican Bishopric; was the sole basis on Which the City of Christchurch was granted the Royal Charter of Queen Victoria to be accounted a City of H.M.'s Dominion of New Zealand. The basis of any Government offer is thus historical and not religious.

We who want a brand new cathedral to replace the damaged Anglican one might sympathise with your obvious question of the appropriateness of GCBT's and the government's offer of a one-sided offer on sectarian grounds. We just want to put an Anglican Cathedral in the centre of the City at a cost we can afford - to replace the faux-Gothic building which no longer fits the quake-prone site it occupies.