Friday, April 12, 2013

We must get it right

A further conviction in my mind about our new/restored cathedral is that 'we must get it right.'

In the particular case of the option of building a new cathedral from scratch we have a rare opportunity to build the right church for the right era for the right people for the right purposes. We cannot and must not fail at this juncture in the life of the Diocese, of the church in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia, and of the city of Christchurch and province of Canterbury.

Thus if we determine that we are heading in the direction of the option of a new cathedral then we have a very special responsibility to determine that a new cathedral is built for the church of today and tomorrow. Simultaneously we must determine that we are building a 'mother church' for the whole diocese and not a church which preserves a narrow slice of Anglican style centred on choral worship.

Thus I generally applaud the exterior concept of the proposed design for a new cathedral ("Option 3") and I have severe and serious questions about the interior concept of this design. It may 'only' be a concept, but if it is, why is it a concept anchored around robed clergy, a choir, a pulpit six feet above contradiction, aeroplane seating? Note that I have omitted mention in this critical list of urgent questions, the question of a 'place-holding' giant depiction of the Madonna and Child as part of the 'It's only a concept, Peter'! I have listened ... it is only a place-holder!

Readers here will be aware that I have been pointing them to Bosco Peters' (updating) posts on the cathedral designs, where he has produced a draft alternative  for the interior of Option 3. That draft is now improved and in colour and reproduced above for inspection, critique and further improvement. Thank you Bosco and Andrew.

We must get it right if we go for Option 3. A new cathedral must be the mother church for the whole diocese. It must express the advances in liturgy and ecclesiology we have experienced since the 19th century cathedral was built. It must express the life of our bicultural society.

It can be done!


Hirini Kaa said...

Kia ora Peter.

I'm a long time reader, first time comment-maker :)

Yes I would agree entirely with your thoughts on the new Cathedral. At the moment the plans seem to want to rebuild an old ecclesiology onsite with a new shell.

The contemporary option (although my views of it are somewhat restricted) seem to be lifted straight from a European/North American Cathedral design magazine, which is maybe what happens when that's what you go looking for.

As a whole Church, nationwide and across cultures and classes, we need a cathedral that reflects where see oursleves now, and where we will be 50 years from now.

The marae offers one model to consider, and there are many others from this land, including rugby grounds and fale - places where God's people can come together.

Because this is more than a mere building, this is a statement of who we are and (Lex Orandi Lex Credendi) of our faith.

If we get this wrong, then we will probably also get our Church wrong. And both will be irrelevant.


Hirini Kaa (Auckland)

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks, Hirini.
I am much encouraged by your remarks: rugby ground, marae, fale. Yes!

Anonymous said...

Option 03b. No pulpit. Sigh. How low can we go?! Rugby ground; marae; fale. No!

liturgy said...

Easter Season Greetings

As one of the originators of “3B” let me respond to this anonymous comment.

1) We only had 8 days between the unveiling of the options to prepare for conversations about these at synod – a very short time in which to reflect on the options and think through to some discussion points. Please don’t treat 3B as some definitive, final fourth option – it is the quick sketching of how some principles might apply to adapt the floor plans presented so that the planned cathedral is more usable for worship and Christian community life in the 21st century.

2) The primary issues that 3B seeks to address include flexible seating that enables a greater sense of being community by gathering around Word and Sacrament; and gathering space (with toilet and kitchen facilities) that are not removed from the worship space (inherited building arrangements where such are separate being a constant source of frustration to such communities). If in that context it is seen to be an improvement to add a pulpit – I, for one, would still be happy if those primary issues are addressed.

3) If you follow the recommended links to my rationale on the ambo/lectern/pulpit you will find that I would hope for a piece of furniture that would stand in dialogue and balance the altar, clearly connecting Word and Sacrament. I was visualising such a significant piece of furniture to be central to the gathered community. If you find it helpful to call this central, substantial piece of furniture the “pulpit” – I have absolutely no problem with that.

4) A pulpit has often had its particular form because of sound and visual issues within the space. I am hoping for a space where sound and viewing are a delight, so that the Word is read, and preached, in the centre of the gathered community – not needing the preacher to be elevated off to one side (as per the presented plans).

5) I struggle to think of a service that I lead where the Word is not read, and I would not preach (always connecting to the scriptures just read). Rev. Andrew Allan-Johns, who produced this diagram, I am sure also places the scriptures centrally to his life and worship leadership. If there is any inference in the anonymous commenter that this is some attempt to lessen the centrality of the scriptures and their proclamation in the life of the worshipping community, I for one can assure you that is not the case.

Christ is Risen!


Andrew Allan Johns said...

The building needs a piece of furniture to both elevate and symbolise Gods word. An ambo will do. We no longer need the pulpit six feet above contradiction.

Father Ron Smith said...

Well said, Andrew!