President calls for unity
Residents of Christchurch are still coming to terms with Tuesday’s devastating earthquake as news emerges that more than 113 people have been killed and hundreds are still missing. About 600 search and rescue staff, failed to find any survivors overnight—they’ve been working in shifts searching the central city rubble.
Pastor Craig Gillis, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in South New Zealand (SNZC), in his latest communiqué to the Church said,
“At this point of time, undoubtedly like you, I am feeling absolutely shattered as the outcomes of Tuesday’s Christchurch earthquake become more evident. The death toll is climbing, hundreds of people are missing, tens of thousands are in a state of distress, as access to the basic necessities of food, water and shelter, are stretched.”
|Pastor Craig Gillis in the central business district of Christchurch.|
Due to the fact that Christchurch is in a state of national emergency, it is strongly recommended that church members in Christchurch do not formally meet for worship this Sabbath. “This is the most responsible action for us to take under the circumstances we currently find ourselves,” said Pastor Gillis. “I would recommend rather that you encourage your members to worship together in family homes, and perhaps in the afternoon help others in need. May God come especially close to each of you in your assistance and encouragement of this dramatic situation."
However, three churches will be open for worship this Sabbath. They are, Rangiora, Ashburton and Oxford. Church services will start at 9:15am and visitors are encouraged to attend.
“How do I encourage us all at this time of tragedy, loss and uncertainty,” asked Pastor Gillis. “I share from Psalms 46, it says it all.”
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”
Soon after communicating with his constituents, pastor Gillis received a message from pastor Ted Wilson, General Conference president:
“Greetings to each of you. I just want you to know that our prayers are with the people of Christchurch and our church members after this devastating earthquake. We were just in Christchurch a few weeks ago and saw the reminders of the last earthquake which was much less pervasive. This last quake was so destructive. Certainly, this is another reminder of the closeness of our Lord’s return. I have prayed for our church members, the people of Christchurch, and those who will be caring for the clean-up and restoration.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church in New Zealand (SNZC) in conjuction with the Church’s health food company, Sanitarium and the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) are attempting to do the following in this crisis:
- Members have been involved with visiting and helping their neighbours, and commencing clean-up in their own streets.
- The SNZC is working with ADRA and Sanitarium, as Christchurch moves from a focus of rescue to recovery.
- Sanitarium in Papanui acted as a triage centre. It is now also a distribution centre for water, food and other basic necessities.
- Sanitarium has been providing breakfast for hundreds of people each morning at the various emergency shelters.
- The SNZC are holding a Trauma Recovery seminar at Bishopdale’s ADRA room, with a specialist in this area who helped in the aftermath of the Chile earthquake.
- The SNZC have been trying to inspect all their churches, preschools and schools. Initial reports indicate that all have minor structural damage.
The SNZC hasn't received any reports of church members being seriously injured—though there have been many stories of near misses. Members from the Nelson church are also providing their ADRA food van. The Mt Hutt Retreat youth camp in Rakaia, has been filled with students from Saudi Arabia, who wanted to get out of the city.
Listed below is a report of the damage to the churches in Christchurch:
Papanui: has external damage and internal cracking.
St Albans: significant liquefaction all around the building and cracking.
Ilam: some cracking in roof of foyer. Hall has cracking in the walls with damage from fallen bricks.
Bishopdale: has a major crack to the south (pulpit end) of church.
St. Martins: liquefaction in and around the building with cracking in some areas.
Addington Samona: some cracking.
Aranui: has significant structural damage.