As I biked past the old St Luke’s site in Manchester Street the other day I spotted a sign advertising the site for sale. I looked up the advert for the property and read this:
Deadline Private Treaty 28th Feb 2023 16:00:00 (Unless sold prior)
This prime land holding has been owned by the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch since 1858 and was formerly home to St Luke’s Anglican Church which was a large stone structure with prominence to both Kilmore and Manchester Streets.
248 Manchester Street is a substantial Christchurch central city development block. It has an expansive 113m frontage across two main Central City arterials, with Kilmore and Manchester Streets superbly positioned to the north of the Avon River, and only a short distance from the CBD.
The advert concluded with:
This corner position offers any astute developer ample development scope, with two accesses off Kilmore and Manchester Streets, being relatively regular in form and level in contour with some unique heritage appeal with the retention of the Bell Tower, stone walls and established landscaping to add intrigue and appeal. This landmark site offers an array of redevelopment possibilities providing a blank canvas for the next owner.
I have had a lot to do with the old St Luke’s parish over the years. It was a liberal and open hearted parish which worked tirelessly for decades with groups like the Prostitutes Collective etc. The fact that this land is being offered for sale with an advert line like this landmark site offers an array of redevelopment possibilities providing a blank canvas for the next owner is worrying. Surely the Church Property trustees (CPT)have a greater responsibility toward the poor in our city than to offer it to property sharks to exploit this site that they have owned for the spiritual welfare of our city since 1858?
After a recent General Synod of the Anglican Church a motion was moved by Meri Wallace from our City challenging the Church to address their own land for housing. After the synod a document was produced https://www.anglicansocialjustice.nz/he-waka-eke-noa. It called on the Anglican Church throughout New Zealand to:
- Requests the officers, directors, trustees and fiduciaries of all financial, property and real asset owning and administering entities and trusts (collectively ‘financial entities and trusts’) of this church to study this report and examine their current and prospective investments, impact and asset management policies in the light of this report and the five-fold mission statement of the Constitution of this church;
- Requests all financial entities and trusts develop longer term asset allocation and utilisation strategies in the light of this report and the five-fold mission statement of the Constitution of this church;
- Requests all financial entities and trusts of this church to consider what changes are needed in any constitutions, trust deeds or other founding documents or investment policies, to empower them to make such investments and to make such amendments as are needed to permit such investments;
- Requests all financial entities and trusts of this church to begin to re-align their investments and assets towards fruitful mission and financial stewardship;
I challenge the Church Property Trustees (chaired by the local Bishop) to reflect on the sale of this land. By advertising the way they have they have bought into continuing the current massive gaps between the haves and the have-nots. Is an open sale the best way to address the future use of a property the Church has owned since 1858?
I encourage the CPT’s to walk down the road from St Lukes and visit the Oxford Terrace Baptist Church. Their old building was used infrequently by their congregation. So, after their church had been destroyed, the leaders at Oxford Terrace sat and talked to people for a year. They then built an exciting space which is always alive. Try their coffee and cakes they are great. Instead of rebuilding just a church they stretched their finances and also built housing units which will be managed by Vision West for poor families.
To the best of my knowledge the Anglicans and the Baptists worship the same God. How come one lot sell their land to the open market and the others comply with the Gospels concern for the poor?