“It is with very mixed feelings that we approach the first anniversary of the horrible earthquake that caused the deaths of 184 people and untold damage to our city.
There is mourning: we have lost so much, loved ones, friends, homes, church buildings, public buildings, our city centre.
There is on-going fear: this seismic event is still with us and may be for years to come.
There is uncertainty: people are wondering where they will live, whether they will get insurance, and whether their jobs will last.
There is despair: some people are barely coping emotionally and many feel that there are diminishing options for them when all of their resources are tied up in dilapidated houses with mortgages and little chance of selling up.
Yet there is also hope and joy and gratitude and wonder.
We have been and still are undergirded by the generosity of so many people across the country and from overseas.
We have discovered deeper dimensions of what it means to be a community together.
We are relearning what it means to look out for one another.
Interestingly, the grade averages for our secondary school students sitting NCEA at all levels increased in 2011. Despite all the disruptions, Canterbury students performed to a higher standard than any other region.
Despite all of the hardship there is also a resiliency down here that is something to treasure and celebrate.
The Christian community in the city is playing their part in the recovery. Building on the support that has come from far and wide, churches of different denominations have been working together to offer care and support in the worst hit communities and are being careful not to duplicate what others are doing.
In the Presbyterian community we are gradually moving into the ‘what’s next?’ phase. It is not easy. We have lost a number of buildings and quite a few others are still deteriorating. Some of our communities are foundering and will struggle to survive in their present form, but others are doing remarkably well considering the challenges they face.
It is a season for mourning, but also one for dreaming, imagining and daring, and we value your continued prayers for us.”
Rev Martin Stewart
ex-Moderator of Christchurch Presbytery (just!)