Letter from Bishop Victoria Matthews | 25 March 2013

26 Mar 2013

Dear Friends,

As we continue the journey of Holy Week my prayers are with you. Let us never forget the extraordinary gift that is ours through Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross. As we participate this week in the final meal Jesus had with his disciples, the washing of the feet, the arrest in Gethsemane, and subsequent trials and crucifixion, let us pause and watch with our Lord as he struggles with what is asked of Him: “Father , if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done”.

The announcement of the election of the Rt. Rev'd Philip Richardson as the Archbishop-elect has been well circulated across our church. I know you will join me in praying for Bishop Philip; Archbishop David, as he begins his transition to overseas; our new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby; and Pope Francis.

Locally the question and challenge of our Cathedral in the Square continues. Church Property Trustees has submitted to the High Court our plan to proceed. I will outline for you the process that has been approved and which will be followed. As you are aware, last November the interim judgement directed us to consult before making a decision. We are doing so, and in fact have been doing so for some time. However the timeline that we have submitted to the Courts follows upon the great amount of work we have already undertaken. It is now time to take our work out into the community for public engagement. There will be a number of public forums, and a website through which feedback can be given.

Our options include a range of possibilities including maximum retention, deconstruction and restoration, as well as a new building with a new design.

Priorities as we proceed to a decision include, but are not limited to, engineering and safety concerns, heritage, costs of the interim make-safe processes, the financial risk involved in the designs, potential for fundraising for each option, and the all-important concern for the mission of God in this place.

The Cathedral Project Group has members on it representing Standing Committee (Gerard Jacobs), Cathedral Chapter (Acting Dean Lynda Patterson and Anthony Wright), and CPT (Johnny Cochrane). I am a member of the CPG and sit on all the parent bodies named. We expect the Cathedral Project Group to make a recommendation to CPT, but the final decision rests with CPT after the public engagement and feedback in completed.

In addition to the already mentioned public forums, public engagement includes receiving feedback from CERA, Christchurch City Council, the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, the Great Christchurch Building Trust, and the wider church. On Wednesday, 3 April Church Property Trustees and Standing Committee will meet to decide on the final option(s) for the Cathedral and to approve the community engagement plan. The release of the Cathedral design concepts is planned for Thursday, 4 April, at which time a website with information and feedback capabilities will become active. The approved option(s) will be shown at some of the regional meetings pre-Synod, as well as on Saturday, 13 April during Synod. The process of collating and reviewing the feedback will begin on Friday, 3 May before a final decision is made about the design of the Cathedral in the Square.

The Structural Review Group Draft Proposal is also now public, and is being discussed at the regional meetings pre-Synod. Please try to attend one of these meetings even if you are not a member of our Synod, as the Draft Proposal affects us all. I want to thank, and acknowledge the huge amount of work undertaken by, the Structural Review Group.

The two services for the Renewal of Vows and Blessing of Oils take place on Tuesday, 26 March: at St Christopher’s at 11.00am with a light lunch following, and at St Alban’s Pleasant Point at 5.00pm, with an evening meal to follow. I do hope to see many of you at these services.

May this Holy Week be a journey of many blessings and spiritual growth.

In Christ,