St John’s Raising $4.2m for Earthquake Strengthening
Charities Commission Reg no. CC52189
Thursday 13 September 2018
St John’s in the City Raising $4.2m for Earthquake Strengthening
On Sunday 16 September, St John’s in the City, with the help of Mayor Justin Lester, launches a campaign to raise funds to carry out an earthquake strengthening project.
The Category 1 historic building is currently deemed ‘earthquake prone’ at 25% of code.
Strengthening the building by tying it to its foundations to stop it from sliding into Willis Street and preventing the bell tower moving and clashing with the main building in a big quake will cost an estimated $4.2m. That will both keep it functioning as a church and as a building available to the rest of the community. Uses such as concerts are heavily restricted because of the earthquake rating but could be restored after the work is done.
Minister Allister Lane says “We plan to start strengthening in October. We don’t have the wealthy people in the congregation who contributed when St John’s was built, such as the Kirkcaldies and James Smiths, but we’re going all out to raise the $4.2 million. St John’s leaders have already personally pledged $278,000 to kick-start the appeal. $1.2m will come from existing funds plus what we can raise now. We’ll ask our congregation first but we need a lot of help to do it.
That way, we can keep St John’s as a spiritual presence and play our part in Wellington long into the future.”
Built of kauri in 1886, the church at the corner of Willis and Dixon Streets is one of the oldest large inner-city timber buildings in Wellington. Seating up to 800 people, it is the nearest Presbyterians get to having a cathedral in Wellington and has been used for many large events, including the funerals of Prime Ministers Peter Fraser and Sir John Marshall.
St John’s founded the youth organisation BGI, Queen Margaret and Scots Colleges, has always run youth groups, and is part of Downtown Community Ministry. It also hosts Otago University’s Centre for Theology and Public Issues and recently started a café at the Dixon St Flats to provide much-needed social activity for residents.