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‘Hard work, but worth it’: Christchurch church to open housing complex to help disadvantaged

Author
Matt Burrows,
Publish Date
Fri, 7 Apr 2023, 10:14am
The finishing touches are being added to the new housing complex built by the Oxford Terrace Baptist Church. Photo / Oxford Terrace Baptist Church on Facebook
The finishing touches are being added to the new housing complex built by the Oxford Terrace Baptist Church. Photo / Oxford Terrace Baptist Church on Facebook

‘Hard work, but worth it’: Christchurch church to open housing complex to help disadvantaged

Author
Matt Burrows,
Publish Date
Fri, 7 Apr 2023, 10:14am

A church in central Christchurch is set to open a new housing complex next week in an effort to help the disadvantaged in their local community find a home amid the housing crisis.

Oxford Terrace Baptist Church’s classical old building in the centre of the city was destroyed in the earthquake. While a tragedy, it gave them an opportunity to think afresh about the church’s identity and purpose, and how their property could reflect that.

“A lot of people started talking about things other than a big box to gather in on Sunday mornings,” pastor Chris Chamberlain told Newstalk ZB’s Good Friday breakfast programme.

“We landed on a little phrase that we gave to our architect – we wanted to have a place where we were working, worshipping and living, and all of those things were somehow going to bang into each other.

“We were going to generate something that may be a little bit campus-like, where instead of just an hour on a Sunday, the whole complex would be used all day every day.

“When we told him that, I knew we had the right architect when he told us ‘you people sound like you want to build a modern-day monastery’. In many ways he was right.”

Spurred on by his own experience of losing a home in the earthquakes, Chamberlain says the church was keen to help those who would struggle to find somewhere to live amid the housing crisis.

This includes those on the social housing register, refugees acclimating to life in New Zealand, and those for whom finances are tight. Many of the homes will be heavily subsidised to make them significantly more affordable than standard rentals.

“It’s just not right that a country like ours should have children living in motels and emergency accommodation,” Chamberlain said.

“We became quite passionate that the Government on its own is not going to fix this problem – that everybody who’s got some drive needs to get involved and helping.”

“There’s something wrong in a country like ours… if we aren’t upset to see homelessness. As I realised my own situation, I started noticing there were far worse situations people face – and the church can do something.

“It’s been very costly and very hard work, but it’s worth it.”

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