EARTHQUAKE repair and strengthening costs will force closure of the quaint St Barnabas’ Church at Makaraka . . . and the brick building will have to be demolished.
The church is facing financial aftershocks from both the 2007 Gisborne quake and the Christchurch quakes, as insurance premiums rise, along with expectations in the building strengthening code.
The church is a masonry structure, not reinforced, and was issued a notice by Gisborne District Council for a safety upgrade, with building strength brought up to modern requirements.
Anglican minister Reverend Joan Edmundson said the church parish had “unanimously agreed” not to earthquake-strengthen St Barnabas to the council’s required standards, because a further $260,000 would have to be raised on top of insurance money.
Rev Edmundson said the decision to close and eventually demolish St Barnabas was a difficult one for the parish members to make. The final meeting to decide the fate of the church was “sad but realistic”.
“One comment made during this meeting was that ‘St Barnabas was a beautiful church but it had served its purpose’.
“This presented a clear message from the parish and made the vestry’s decision-making straightforward. So the motion was passed that the parish not attempt to repair or strengthen St Barnabas.”
St Barnabas has played a huge part in the life of many people, including June Dyer who was christened, confirmed and married in the church. Her parents were also married there.
“I remember my nanny made many a cake to raise funds for the church. It was a part of our community life back then.
“It is so very sad to learn that St Barnabas is going and that another piece of Makaraka history will soon be lost to us forever.
“It breaks my heart to learn about this and quite a few tears have been shed.”
Mrs Dyer said she understood money was the main factor behind the church’s demise and would be praying for a miracle to save her “pretty St Barnabas”.
Rev Edmundson said “a huge amount of fundraising” would be required.
The church is set to be deconsecrated on December 15 and eventually brought down.
“This will be a very important service and we need to plan how to celebrate all the life that has flowed from St Barnabas over the years and how we now let it go.”
The vestry is still working through options for the future of the site.
Both St Barnabas and St Luke’s at Waerenga-a-Hika suffered earthquake damage however St Luke’s will be repaired and strengthened.
“We have to repair and strengthen St Luke’s. It is the centre of our parish and used every week.
“It is also historically-significant in terms of the history and connection to the immediate area and the district.”
Church services will be held once a month at St Barnabas while work is carried out at St Luke’s.
Rev Edmundson said she had been assured by civil engineers that it was safe enough to hold church services at St Barnabas once a month.
Maintenance work additional to earthquake strengthening requirements for St Barnabas totals a further $22,000.
Requirements include a fence $7000, roof $6000, interior floors $4000, windows $3000 and miscellaneous $2700, a privately-commissioned maintenance report says.
St Barnabas was officially opened by the Bishop of the Diocese William Walmsley Sedgwick on November 22, 1928.