Congregation seeks safer premises

The Oamaru Union Parish Church on Eden St. Photo by Andrew Ashton.
The Oamaru Union Parish Church on Eden St. Photo by Andrew Ashton.
Members of a church congregation in Oamaru have been forced to look for a new place of worship, because their church has been classed as an earthquake risk.

Following an engineer's assessment of the Oamaru Union Parish church, Methodist Church of New Zealand property committee executive director Greg Wright said the Eden St building would close to the public next week.

''The property has been surveyed as part of a wider survey of Church property that we are carrying out and it has been found to be below 34% of the new building standard, and has been closed pending further investigations, until we can satisfy ourselves on what its future will be.''

Mr Wright said although there was no immediate danger, it was ''prudent'' to close the building for the time being.

He said the building had not been condemned, and it was ''unlikely'' it would be demolished.

Further assessments would be conducted ''expeditiously'', but would be dependent on the availability of engineers, he said.

The Eden St church would be allowed a week to conclude meetings and services.

Oamaru Union parish chairman Bruce Waterhouse said the building was built from limestone blocks, ''like a great many other churches''.

The Anglican and Catholic Churches in Otago are assessing earthquake risk.

andrew.ashton@odt.co.nz