The sign outside the St Columba Church on Surrey Crescent said it all: Save St Columba.
The St Columba vestry has been working very closely with the Bishop and Diocesan Council of the Anglican Church to save St Columba, the church itself, its ministry to the Grey Lynn community, and the many activities that take place in and around the church and community hall.
Ponsonby News is very pleased that a plan is in place to secure St Columba’s future.
But as member of the vestry Joel Stutter told us, they are not yet out of the woods. There is a lot of work to do to guarantee the church’s future.
“The Bishop and Diocesan Council are supportive of our church and our plans for growth,” Stutter said. “We have agreed to a number of goals and are working hard to achieve these,” he added.
St Columba is grateful for the support it is receiving from the Grey Lynn, Ponsonby and Pt Chevalier communities.
Their focus in the past few months has been on working closely with Diocesan Council to achieve common goals, the relationship with the Diocesan Council and the planning and promoting of the Clay Works Potters’ Market. The market was a huge success. Not only was income significantly higher than last year, it has helped to create great connections with the community.
Joel Stutter told us the church can now focus on the next steps required to save St Columba. “And we are now able to follow up on the offers of help that we have received,” he said. St Columba will still require considerable input from the local community in order to survive.
Finances are still very tight, Stutter reported, so the church appreciates any support or donations that people or businesses can give. He listed some items they are fundraising for, and urged local support.
These projects include:
Restoration of the children’s playground. A working bee is planned to make the playground safe so it can reopen. New signage, probably including an electronic noticeboard. Removing a phoenix palm tree. A new security system. A coffee machine. This will be invaluable for our programme of fundraising events we have planned over the year.
St Columba is planning to hold “Messy Church” on a regular basis, and anticipates this will begin within two months. It will be widely advertised. Messy Church is a more informal event for children and adults, involving creativity, celebration and hospitality and includes activities such as art, games, songs and sharing a meal.
Ponsonby News urges our readers to support the great work that The Reverend Canon Brent Swann, the vestry and congregation are doing in our community, especially as they fight to prevent closure of their iconic local church, labyrinth, gardens and grounds.
Joel Stutter reminds us that their doors are always open and even those who don’t see themselves as churchgoers can drop in at any time for a chat or a coffee. There is a welcoming morning tea at 11.15am every Sunday after the morning service.
Rumours abounded that St Columba was doomed, but this dedicated bunch of local Christians were determined it must survive - the church ministers to a wide cross-section of our diverse community. In addition to the morning service, it has an afternoon service in Tongan.
At a time when it seems that individualism and consumerism are emphasised, St Columba stands strongly for the whole community, including the less privileged. Kia kaha, St Columba. (JOHN ELLIOTT)