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Christchurch Meeting House History

Christchurch Monthly Meeting has had three different Meeting Houses - starting in 1951, after Meetings for Worship were held in other premises for many years.

235 Manchester Street

The first Meeting House was purpose-built at 325 Manchester Street in 1951 - at a time when there was very little traffic in the street on a Sunday morning.  It was a quiet place for our Worship.

Over the years, the Meeting grew in numbers, and by the early 1980s, there were many young families attending, with a growing number of children.  Each Sunday, the pre-school children were taken by Lindsay Knowles in the small room near the main entrance,  and their tiny voices could be heard in song through the doors into the Meeting Room.  As many as 30 or more children of varying ages were led each Sunday by willing volunteers in the several rooms of an old house next door - No 329 Manchester St.

72 Cresswell Avenue

However, as the years went by, our numbers grew, and the traffic noise from the street gradually became more intrusive.  A decision was made to move to a new and quieter location.  In early 1990, a small committee searched for suitable properties, and Minutes 3 - 5 of May 1990 record the decision to negotiate the purchase of 72 Cresswell Ave, and the sale of 325 - 329 Manchester St.  A Special Monthly Meeting on 17 June 1990 affirmed the offer to purchase two adjacent properties for a total of $312,000,  and the sale of the Manchester St properties for $224,000.   The Meeting acknowledged that full unity was not reached on this decision, but decided to proceed.

The new premises at Cresswell Ave included a small house, a large garage, and a hall that had been used as a music auditorium.  The hall became our Meeting Room, the house was used by Resident Friends, and the garage became a space for children's activities.  The Meeting enjoyed the suburban quiet.  Around 2008, the Meeting decided to plan for an extension of the building, and architects drew up some plans.  However, nature intervened with the earthquake of September 2010. and the buildings sustained some minor damage.  It was lucky that our building plans were put on hold, as the large quake of February 2011 caused serious damage to all buildings. Liquifaction mud spewed from the ground, and the main Meeting Room tilted and was flooded with dirty groundwater.  The property was no longer usable as a Meeting House, and was included in the "red zone" of land no longer fit for urban use.  

Rented premises

Our Meeting continued, meeting at first in Friends' homes, then in a series of rented premises - a Catholic church building on Bealey Ave,  the Presbytarian Support building on Bealey Ave, and the Aspire Hall property on Worcester St.  However, a Spirit-led Meeting decided that rather than continuing to rent premises, we really did want to have a place of our own - a "home".   A Property Search Group was formed, which considered many possibilities, including the purchase and redevelopment of the Aspire Hall, a joint venture with the Edgeware Pool group, the Viva project, No 36 Cholmondeley Ave, and No 4 Worsleys Road.  Offers were made on these last two properties, but the deals fell through when consent from neighbours was not forthcoming.

217 Ferry Road

Then in January 2015, our late Friend Dirk De Lu found the building at 213 - 217 Ferry Rd, while cycling past.  It was purchased in February 2015,  and the Property Search Group became the Property Development Committee.  The building had been a garage and car sales depot, followed by a group caring for adult intellectually handicapped people.  Much architectural and strengthening work was needed.  But our first Monthly Meeting was held in the new premises on 5 July 2015.  It documented the Special Monthly Meeting held in June that considered the permanent move to Ferry Rd,  and recorded that our first Meeting for Worship in the new premises was held on 28 June 2015.

Our Meeting had anticipated that we would have Resident Friends living in a flat upstairs.  Plans were drawn and discussed, but then the City Council changed the zoning of the property, and having residents was no longer allowed.  We have been able to lease the upstairs rooms as offices, and have enjoyed having Te Puna Oranga making good use of these rooms.