Awatere Catholics and Protestants share church

Since the 6.6 magnitude Grassmere quake on August 16, Catholics and Protestants in the Awatere have been worshipping in the same place.

That’s because the Anglicans and Presbyterians had their St Andrew’s Awatere Christian Joint Venture Church, in Seddon, destroyed by the jolt.

And, in the spirit of Christianity, the Catholic community opened their doors to their wandering neighbours.

Awatere Christian Joint Venture committee chairman Rob Cameron said the two religions had always been comfortable together in the Awatere.

“Out there, community is stronger than denomination,” he said. “It’s been really helpful for us, if we didn’t have that place, we would be moving around every week. The Catholics worship at 8am and have a cup of tea after their service. We join them for that and when they go home, we have our worship.”

The committee was still waiting on an engineer’s report to see if their church would be salvaged or demolished, Dr Cameron said.

“It’s [still] out of bounds but that’s how we came to worship with the Catholics. It’s very harmonious and celebrated on both sides.”

Dr Cameron was speaking at a church service for former Awatere and Flaxbourne residents in Blenheim last week.

They hold an annual service to keep up-to-date with life in the region.

Dr Cameron showed the group a slideshow of quake-damaged buildings, including the Awatere Christian Joint Venture church.

Former vicar Miriam Taylor held the service at the Church of Nativity and said the new relationship between Catholics and Protestants was a wonderful outcome of the earthquake.

“There has always been a wonderful unity of spirit between the churches anyway but this has been particularly special,” Reverend Taylor said. “It’s sad to see the church like that but it reminds people that the church is not the building, the church is the people.”


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News category: New Zealand.

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