New Zealand Anglicans Reach Out in Midst of Tragedy

An aerial shot of the Christchurch Cathedral, whose spire collapsed in Tuesday’s quake. On Friday, Mayor Bob Parker said that the city would help to rebuild the church. (Photo: Christchurch Cathedral)

Anglicans in Christchurch, New Zealand are making efforts to reach out to the surrounding community even as they face their own tragedies in their congregations and personal lives following a massive 6.3 earthquake on Tuesday.

"It is absolutely understandable that their first concern is for their parishioners and church family. But there has to be a parallel effort," Christchurch Bishop Victoria Matthews told Anglican Taonga. "They must make every effort to reach out to their neighbors, and to be in touch with the wider community."

Matthews has been helping to coordinate ecumenical pastoral-care centers in various churches around the region, while other church leaders are staying in touch with the city's funeral directors to organize services.

An interfaith prayer service has also been scheduled for this Sunday, although the location is not yet confirmed.

The religious leaders' efforts come as many of them are being forced to find other places to hold their weekly worship services, with several churches in the region severely damaged.

Among the damaged churches are the historic Christchurch Cathedral (Anglican) and the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament (Catholic).

On Friday Mayor Bob Parker gave a public address saying that the Anglican Cathedral, which he said was a stunning and symbolic building, would be rebuilt.

"There is some discussion that that is a building we could rebuild brick by brick, stone by stone. We need to find some symbols like that," he said.

Meanwhile, the death toll from the earthquake rose to 113 today, with many more feared dead under the rubble. Rescue workers are still combing through the ruins for some 200 people that are still missing.

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