Christ the King Church in Burnside is closed


Christ the King Church at Burnside, Christchurch, has been closed down, after an earthquake assessment report showed the church will not survive a significant earthquake.

Catholic Parish of Christchurch North parish priest Msgr Rick Loughnan announced the closure, in a letter to the parishioners released in the last week of September. He said that they had Bishop Michael Gielen’s approval to do so.

“I know that this decision will come as a shock to many of you.  I am feeling this myself. I would like to have had more time to let people know, but it was important to act immediately once we received all the necessary information,” Msgr Loughnan said.

He said that they were not planning on closing the church until a new one was built and operating on the Main North Road site in Papanui.

“I simply had to make this decision now for the safety of parishioners. I ask your prayers, and ongoing care for each other, as we go through these changes,” he said.

Msgr Loughnan said, in a newsletter dated October 1, that he is considering a gathering of parishioners on the Feast of Christ the King (November 26) in the Christ the King Pastoral Centre or in the turfed area outside the centre, to “celebrate and remember the wonderful sacramental and community life in this church”.

“My hope is that we would have a procession with the Blessed Sacrament around the streets as we have done in recent years,” he said.

The pastoral centre, built in 1996, is not considered earthquake prone, as it is structurally independent of the church and was built to a more recent design standard.

The St Vincent de Paul conference as well as St Augustine’s Bookshop will continue to operate from there.

After an earlier audit of all the churches in the Christchurch diocese, the Burnside church was found to be earthquake-prone.

Msgr Loughnan said that the parish engaged WSP Engineering Consultants in June to conduct a review.

It found several areas within the church would not have the strength required to survive in a significant earthquake. The building was assessed at 15 per cent of the National Building Standard, well below the required 34 per cent.

“Discussion with WSP has shown that, even if the parish were to remove the concrete tiled roof and replace it with a lightweight roof, it still would not lift the NBS up to an acceptable minimum level.  The cost of bringing the church up to the required standard is prohibitive,” said Msgr Loughnan.

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Rowena Orejana

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