DHB rejects call for Christian Chapel

christian chapel

A Presbyterian minister, the Reverend Richard Dawson, is disappointed that the Southern District Health Board has rejected a call for a separate Christian chapel to be included in the new Dunedin Hospital.

Dawson was one of the 52 people who signed a letter seeking assurance from the board that a Christian chapel and an office for chaplains be given priority for the new hospital.

The signatories are mainly leaders of Presbyterian congregations across the South, but also including the Anglican Bishop of Dunedin, the Right Rev Stephen Benford,

The letter calls for a “discernable Christian presence” in the new hospital.

Hospitals and the health systems in which they operate can largely be said to be an invention of the church and they certainly rely on values espoused by the church throughout its 2000-year history, Dawson said

His further concern was the Christian faith would not be primarily represented within a city founded on Christian principles and a country in which, still, the largest group of people claiming religious adherence are Christian.

New Dunedin Hospital project director Hamish Brown told the board that management had tried to provide a “neutral and respectful approach to what is a complex and sensitive issue”.

The multi-faith centre approach reflected modern health practice, and there was not enough space in the proposed hospital design for two chapels.

“It is important not to get hung up on size or square metres. It is important to consider its function,” Mr Brown said.

Board member Tuari Potiki said he supported the recommendation.

He said the University of Otago operated a similar multi-faith prayer room.

“I think it’s inclusive; it’s practical, it sends the message that we should get on with each other.”

Dawson said the university situation was not comparable to the hospital, as the chaplain’s room had been rebuilt for Christian ministry as part of the prayer room development.


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News category: New Zealand.

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