Monday, August 14, 2017

New Option for Synod re Christchurch Cathedral

Our Synod will be considering a third option. Stuff carries a report here. Taonga reports here.

Option A = reinstatement
Option B = new build
Option C = give the cathedral to the government (i.e. to the people of New Zealand).

I have pulled out of proposing the motion to the Synod because I do not support Option C and could not speak in favour of it. (I am quite happy with reinstatement or a new cathedral so could speak in favour of both as the motion originally proposed.)

This week we have three Area meetings in order to discuss this new development (along with some other late Synod business).

I may or may not post my reasons for opposing Option C subsequent to those meetings.

You may or may not wish to comment here on Options A or B or C (or propose D ...)


Jean said...

Does the insurance money go with the building in option C?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Jean
I assume it does go otherwise it would not be an attractive offer for the government to consider. But we had better wait for a definitive word on that.

Jean said...

It could be an interesting reversal of circumstances if one had a cheeky nature; The Church offers building plus $42,000 - equivalent of the dollar currently offered by the council and government and GCBT if reinstatement is opted for of approx $45 000.

The difficulty if the new build option is chosen the council and government are going to make resource consent a nightmare right? So is that truly a free option? Does the church admin want to set in for another how many years of headaches and media pressure, it no doubt has more important things it would rather be doing.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Jean
I assume you mean to add another three zeroes to your figures :)

I think it important that the Synod discuss the principle of each option and only then weigh up whether the practical factors (fundraising for reinstatement, possible court litigation re new build, etc) mitigate against doing what we collectively want to do according to principle.

Father Ron Smith said...

I'm inclined to agree with your reluctance to go with option 3, Peter, simply because it would mean that our diocese was opting out of any further management or control of the use of the Cathedral. However, it could make both the Government and the GCBT think much harder about option 1 before making any sort of notional commitment to either options 1 or 3.

My firm opinion, is for option 2, which leaves our diocese firmly in control of the new Cathedral, with all rights and responsibility remaining with the CPT and our diocese - which, I believe, is best for our Church.

Jean said...

Yes you are right about the 0's : ) ...

True a choice based on principle is always best. However, if it ends up the consequences of the chosen option cannot be mitigated enough, perhaps the ultimate decision will rest not only on cost factors but also the human cost of church resources and its toll on people. While like Ron option 2 has been my preferred choice ultimately if its not practical concerns but red tape that will be the main contention, and if the costs of option 1 which may end up being way higher than what is estimated leaving a huge burden of debt for the church, I have an inordinate desire to flippantly remark, "fine then have it if it means this much to you, its true value lies in its purpose not its structure"

My respect is high for people both Anglican or otherwise who have an attachment to the Cathedral as it was. And had so much damage not occurred then re-building would be a no-brainer. Yet however it is re-built it will not ever be the same building it was.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Jean
For myself I have no particular attachment "to the Cathedral as it was" but I have considerable respect and regard for the Cathedral as a continuing repository of our history, of where we have come from as Christians in an Anglican Settlement, and as our turangawaewae. I do not think we should lightly give away the possibility of reinstatement on that specific site.

Nevertheless, if practical considerations make that continuation impossible, then I welcome the opportunity to build a new cathedral on that site, given to us by God, in order that we might "seat" our bishop, proclaim Christ and witness to the good news of Christ. Without that witness would we become a city which worships other idols in our Square? Idols of commerce, for instance, which offer no gospel of redemption and no valuation of people as loved by God and made in God's image.

Jean said...

I would support a new cathedral with aspects of the old incorporated, as you say a good witness - for the heart of a place. If however it was made clear that resource consent etc for demolishing and building would involve court cases or continuing efforts by others to obstruct such an option I would choose a no-go. For this would be less than a good witness and in the past years has become more a saga than a novel. In this instance why not look to other areas, perhaps even a poorer suburb of the city.... this too would witness just in a different way.

I think the council, govt, at GCB coming to the party was a positive move. If it was worked as the Cathedrals of old with realistic time-frames of decades to raise funds and build, fair enough but within the current time-parameters and expectations; its indefinite total cost could end up like a millstone around the churches proverbial neck like debts do.

PT2 said...

I am left bemused by the idea that a large and disproportionately expensive building in the middle of a city is needed for witness to the impact of Jesus of Nazareth on our lives. It is not self-evident to me that a cathedral is needed for theological and historical identity. Or for a social and psychological place to stand and belong.

Helpful, certainly, having just spent Saturday cleaning a presently earthquake-emptied Anglican church, and seeing other people's response to a brief return. But necessary?

Incumbency, local history and politics aside (yeah - as if they can be set aside... ), if the CHCH diocese were actually burgeoning, and expecting to continue so, would a massive physical "build" in the city centre make sense? At the start of the 21st century? When virtual place and space are increasingly as potent, physically and socially, as bricks and mortar?

Cultural nostalgia is nice, but is it the essence of distinctively Anglican witness? If it is, then reinstating the Rose Window is clearly essential - and Option B rules. If not, then pray, and walk away.

craig liken said...

Interesting development. Like you Peter, I just don't see that giving the site/building away is a great one at all. It seems very much that the diocese is somewhat "backed into a corner" with Council, Central govt, GCBT etc all pushing towards the re-instatement option and moreover stumping up funds to assist. It would seem somewhat strange in my view (only my view of course) to spurn these offers and do our own thing - not to mention that doing our own thing will cause yet more delays and litigation. It seems to me that the only way to break the deadlock is to go with re-instatement - it did seem thst the govt proposal did allow for some modernisation and rejigging of the space to better work for modern usage.

Just my view I suppose, but it is verging on a "no-brainer" as I see it. I tend to be a pragmatist though, so maybe Synod is more prepared to go with some principle of making their own decision and not being bullied by secular forces, but I'll guess we will see. All the best for those taking part in Synod!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi PT2
Please use a Christian name (at least) when commenting here!
Our consideration of each of the Options should not, in my view, be only predicated on the present state of church life.
We should be considering the past (but not merely for nostalgic reasons) and any obligations we have because of it (including our obligation as owner of a historic place, an obligation we seemed to be happy to fulfil across a number of restored parish churches in our Diocese).
We should be considering the future and what it might mean for our witness to Christ to be or not be in the centre of our city, to be or not be in warm relationship with our city which, like it or not, is an historical Anglican settlement, and to be or not be committed to appropriate symbolism in the centre of our city which bears witness to the gospel of Christ and brings glory to God.
In my view considerations such as these may properly be brought to each of the options.
Personally I have not ruled out either A or B but I have ruled out C.

Anonymous said...

Why should one not see the options as comments, not just on the pragmatics of (2a) the building, and (2b) the site, but also on changes to (1a) the local embodiment of the Church, and (1b) its role the civil community? Doing so yields a simple 2 * 2 matrix--

(A) Rebuild the old cathedral on the old site. "We can only be what we were back then, and wish to continue our past role in NZ. Of course we want to fix the building on its original site!"

(D) Rebuild the old cathedral on a new site. "We can only be what we were back then so we want a nearly identical building, but as the state and society have moved on we no longer want the old site. The state can have it."

(B) Build a new cathedral on the old site. "Even apart from the earthquake damage, we have evolved from what we were in the C19, so that the old building was not suitable. We are glad to have helped found the state and society, and we intend to continue in some similar role."

(C) Build a new cathedral on a new site. "We are glad to have helped found the state and society, but we are not in that line of business any more. We need a cathedral, but we do not need that site. The state can have it."

Bowman Walton

Peter Carrell said...

Interesting conceptions, Bowman, and the Synod may agree with one of them :)

What I think you miss, however, is something which may or may not be important in the Synod, and that is the sense of importance of a particular location. Does it matter whether our cathedral is and continues to be (whether old or new) on the current site, or not?

A similar question, in Washington DC terms, could be something like this: if there was a reason to consider moving the Lincoln Memorial (e.g. some kind of damage, some kind of question of the solidness of the ground beneath it), would it matter if it stayed where it was or would it be fine to shift it to, say, a Lincoln theme park on the outskirts of Washington?

I think I know the answer ...

Anonymous said...

On this topic, Peter, I do not see a difference between what I am saying and what you are saying. The matrix seems to have a box for every view that I have read here, and it is interesting to be able to compare them synoptically. How else could I know, not only that I agree with Father Ron on this, but why I do so?

In your example of the Lincoln Memorial, who in Washington is analogous to the diocese in Christchurch? As a boy in the capital, I used to estimate where the waves at high tide would lap the places I knew if the sea level rose in the Chesapeake Bay. I imagined water buses departing from the CIA at Langley, pausing under the spires of Georgetown University, then speeding over Roosevelt Island to the Watergate and the Lincoln Memorial before pointing their bows to the Jefferson Memorial and racing past the lonely Washington Monument over the inundated Mall to the Capitol dome. Time passes, things change. Who knew that one of Mr Lincoln's successors would bring my juvenile daydreams closer to reality?

But yes, in one big way, I have oversimplified the matter of your ruined cathedral: those with votes in the synod are not just churchmen but citizens. It is likely that some casting votes will feel their nation's claims on them more strongly than their church's. This is not necessarily disloyal to the church, but its expressions can be quirky.

Atop the highest ground in Washington, Mount St Alban, The Cathedral Church of SS Peter and Paul cannot decide whether it is the National Cathedral (presiding bishops are enthroned there; presidents sometimes attend services of national mourning or thanksgiving there) or the Washington Cathedral (the bishop of Washington is enthroned there as well; my class in high school was graduated with a solemn evensong there). A few years after my speculative civil engineering, I was reading theology in earnest and found the national pretensions of the cathedral annoyingly irreligious. Stained glass windows were alright, but embedding rocks from the moon in one seemed hopelessly kitschy. Embarrassing. Adolescence...

Kneelers around the altar embroidered with the seals of the fifty states will probably never lift my thoughts heavenward. But thanks to reflections on Chalcedon, and on readings in Richard Hooker and Karl Barth, I am at least at peace with the thought that churches have human natures as well as divine ones.

Bowman Walton

Jean said...

Hi Bowman

I have never looked at the 'Cathedral issue' as one being a reflection of where the ChCh arm of the Anglican Church is at or its wanting or not to continuing to be an influence in the region. But rather the difficulties arising being a) affordability b) process in terms of building resource consents and expertise needed whether it be re-instatement or re-build and c) the diverse number of people who have a sense of 'ownership' of the Church due to its longstanding history *e.g it is not only Anglicans or Christians who feel an attachment to the historical building it was.

I did smile a little at the raising of Option C and a media response I read today with the mayor of ChCh saying if it was gifted *notably they were concerned the insurance money wouldn't be included* it would be a liability, another person quoted as saying it is an Anglican Cathedral after all and the transitional one isn't 'consented forever' - I found this term particularly amusing.

'Tis a curious thing how perspectives change when suddenly there is the possiblility of actually having the responsibility to find a feasible outcome and implement it. Before this time I cannot remember seeing any news reports either calling the Cathedral a liability or any statements acknowledging so outright that it is actually the 'Anglican's' Cathedral.

: )

Father Ron said...

Please please; a brand new, modern, fit for purpose building on the original site - SASPO - built within our means. Nothing else will meet the requirements of any Thinking Anglican.

PT2 said...

Why rule out Option C?

Option A, though perhaps ideal from a diocese perspective, is a cul-de-sac (as far as I can tell from my distance). Option B puts the Anglican church in vassalage to city locally, and potentially nationally (if not unusual project cost over-runs occur). Option C at least reclaims some leverage in negotiating a way out of a seeming stalemate (assuming the Powers That Be are willing to haggle - moot point).

Of course, deciding on Option C risks demolishing the Diocese itself, if the bargaining bluff is reciprocated by the PTB, which I would expect. But such a wild shift in priorities might also turn the path of the Anglican church nationwide, which otherwise seems content to go gentle into that good night.

It seems (to me) more is at stake than a building site.

Paul [insert city in Texas] 😛

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Paul and thanks for your name.
There are definitely pros and cons for each option, including "wider picture" pros and cons about the future of Christianity, of the Anglican church of these islands and of the Diocese of Christchurch.
Nevertheless my thinking remains focused on:
- a cathedral in the Square
- restoring/repairing a broken relationship between Diocese and city (which includes reflecting on what years in court re Option B might mean)
- our integrity as owners of an historic building that is a treasure of our city and nation.
That means I remain opposed to Option C, open to options A and B, but leaning towards Option A [at least on basis of what I understand the relevant facts and feelings of the situation are, today as I write.]

Anonymous said...

Hi Jean.

Unless they are caves or hollows, buildings are built, and so raise questions about how they will stand up (engineering), how they will be put up (construction), how they will look (aesthetics), how they will be used (planning), how they will fit into the place (more planning), and how they will be paid for (finance). Your ruin is interesting in all of these ways, and so of course you have thought them all through. I find even a simple shed on a farm interesting in those ways.

But a few buildings are also monumental, and your cathedral is among them. My listening to comments about it here is influenced by the architectural theory of monumental buildings. There is a rich tradition of thinking about temples, including churches, as signs pointing beyond themselves with recognised symbolisms of form, space, ornament, geometry, and decorum. Anglican consecrators of buildings tend to mention only the most obvious signifiers, but happily Anglican architects have often been fluent in far more. Nobody here has engaged your once and future cathedral in these terms, which is a little sad.

Citizens of many cities have ambivalent feelings of owning their downtown cathedrals, and yet of dissociating from worshippers with whom they strongly disagree. A few comments here at ADU have alluded to the deep, if not altogether logical feelings that the populace of Christchurch have about the ruin and its site. This calls to mind Aldo Rossi's Surrealist insight that local minds make symbols of the buildings in their midst in an unconscious way. Rossi's designs (eg cemeteries in Italy) try to receive these meanings from the social unconscious without comment or correction.

Also in the C20, Louis Kahn found Modernist meaning in designs that gave poetic shapes to the social vocations of institutions, which he took to be the basic units of modern societies. A Kahn building is an abstract physical metaphor for his client's contribution to the life of the world. Many comments at ADU have ruminated on the Church's role in postmodern societies, and Father Ron has particularly championed the sort of brief for a new cathedral that Kahn would surely have welcomed.

You can blame or thank Rossi and Kahn for the two dimensions of my matrix for the conversation as a whole.

Bowman Walton