Poignant moment . . . St Michael's action committee members (from left) Chrissy Adams, the Rev Janet Williams, Martin Mehrtens, Diana Harrison, Leathwick Contracting staff member Ian Leathwick, Rupert Harrison, Waimate vicar Indrea Alexander and Keith Adams and Peter Davis, of Leathwick Contracting, outside the church before its demolition in late 2017. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED

by Greta Yeoman

The church may no longer be standing, but the grounds of the former St Michael’s Anglican Church in Waihao Downs still provide a place for reflection.

South Canterbury residents who were connected to the demolished church are invited to a “come and see” event at the grounds on Saturday, April 27.

Waimate District Co-operating Venture’s former priest assistant, the Rev Janet Williams, who retired last year, said it would be a good chance to celebrate the new state of affairs after several years’ uncertainty.

In memory . . . The foundation stone and bricks from St Michael’s have been transformed into a memorial wall, which will be dedicated at a public event on April 27.

The event would include the dedication of a memorial wall and unveiling of a plaque.

The church’s ministry team had first been informed St Michael’s was 33% under new building standards in late 2011, after the building standards were increased following the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake.

However, it took several years for parishioners and church officials to decide they would demolish the building and keep the neighbouring cemetery, Mrs Williams said.

That work began in late 2017, the church having been deconsecrated in May of that year by then Christchurch Bishop Victoria Matthews.

Along with the church’s demolition, which was completed last year, workers constructed a memorial wall using the foundation stone and bricks from the church.

Last days . . . People connected to St Michael’s Anglican Church at Waihao Downs attended the deconsecration service for the now-demolished church in May 2017.

Another aspect of the demolition involved exhuming the remains of the 1-year-old daughter of former minister at the church the Rev Christopher Cross, Philomel, who died in 1934, so those removing the building did not work over her grave.

Mrs Williams said she had to track down members of the Cross family in England to get permission to exhume the remains.

Philomel’s grave had been located near the vicarage, so her parents could see it from the window.

The parish shifted services to the Waihao Valley Presbyterian Church in 2011.

“We’ve had a lot of help from the Presbyterians,” she said.

  • The “come and see” day will begin at 1.30pm at the church site, at 1115 State Highway 82. It will be followed by afternoon tea at the Waihao Valley Church in Briggs Rd.
    Mrs Williams was the assistant priest for the churches in the Waimate District Co-operating Venture until she retired last year aged 80.

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