Auckland Methodists are asking for relief from the Conference's requirement that all church buildings be brought up to 67% of the National Building Standard. I can't claim any credit for this sensible proposal, but I have previously stated my view that the church's response to earthquake risk was heavy-handed and likely to do great harm to the denomination.
Auckland City Council is proposing 37% as the minimum standard and this is the figure that the combined Synod feels is appropriate for church buildings in this low-risk region. The City is also prepared to allow 30 years for some buildings to come up to that standard whereas the Conference wants everything put right in ten years.
As I said before, there is risk in everything. We cannot live without it. All we can do is estimate relative risk and make decisions based on our estimates. Earthquake death is not a high risk in any part of this country. The Synod paper points out that although nearly 500 people have died in NZ earthquakes since 1843, mostly in only two events in Napier and Christchurch, we have allowed about 37,000 people to die in road accidents in the same period.
I am delighted to hear about this recommendation and hope that it is listened to by Conference before more of our cultural and spiritual heritage, not to mention our financial resource, is lost. The recent closure of the charming Cambell's Bay Methodist Church has already meant not just the loss of the building but the loss of the congregation itself. This should never have been allowed, never mind encouraged.