Peter Beck, dean of New Zealand’s Christchurch Cathedral, says that congregation will not stray from its historic roots as it considers rebuilding from earthquake destruction, and that it will continue to be a thoroughly Anglican parish.
“It’s a holy place, a sacred space for people of all faiths, [but] at the heart of it, it is a Christian church. It’s the Anglicans’ cathedral.
“The Anglican Church was part of the foundation of this city and has been a living part of its growth and heritage for all these years and we have no intention of doing anything other than continuing to contribute to the life and spirit of our city.”
He said Christchurch was a multi-faith society, and the Anglican Church would work with other religions “in all sorts of ways – but the cathedral will continue to be the cathedral”.
Beck was reacting to the call of Alan Goss, a Presbyterian minister who’d written to local media asking the church to mull over the question of its identity and build a “people’s cathedral.” Goss had written:
A growing number of people think that organised religion, and in particular organised Christianity, is slowly ebbing away. Regrettably, the Christian churches have been unable to adapt their major beliefs and practices to the inrush of the secular age. However, there are gems hidden under the religious rubble that need to be recut and repolished before people will wear them again.
A people’s cathedral in Christchurch would provide an opportunity for this to happen. Important national and sacred occasions might be shared with other religions, as happened at the quake commemorative service.
A people’s cathedral would also allow space for doubts to be expressed and questions asked, without fear or favour. There are no fixed positions or final truths.