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Faithful flock to open-air services

Thousands gather in Christchurch to worship and pay their respects to those killed in Tuesday's earthquake.

 'We're broken but not beaten' says Fendalton vicar 

• Video: Million-dollar window destroyed in Lyttelton church

Taonga News and NZ Herald  |  28 Feb 2011  |

Thousands gathered in Christchurch yesterday to worship and pay their respects to those killed in last Tuesday's earthquake.

Many services in the city were held in the open because of the large number of churches destroyed or damaged in the 6.3 magnitude quake.

Even where churches appeared to have withstood the quake, some congregations still worshipped in the open air.

At St Barnabas in Fendalton, for example, the congregation met for morning worship on the lawn in front of their church – because the building has yet to be checked and cleared by structural engineers.

A congregation of about 40 people from Christchurch Cathedral, St Luke's and St Michael and All Angels met at St Albans Park, which is outside the CBD and more commonly used at this time of the year to host cricket matches.

The Dean of Christchurch, Peter Beck, who normally preaches to a congregation of about 350 at ChristChurch Cathedral, said the worshippers had gathered by word of mouth – because he had had no internet to get the message out.

On the lawn of Christchurch South Library on Colombo St, hundreds arrived on bicycles and on foot to reflect on the tragic event.

The trees surrounding the lawn provided a buffer to the busy street bustling with emergency services and people walking back and forwards with water containers.

"Quite a few churches around the city do not have clearance and people are nervous about being in an enclosed space anyway so we have decided to meet outside," the Rev Alan Webster, who conducted the Christchurch South Library service, told NZPA.

"This is an open space where people can relax together."

Archbishop David Moxon, who flew down from Hamilton last week, attended both morning services at St Mary's in Merivale, which were held in the hall adjacent to the church. 

Full Herald story