Auckland church will have ‘loose and messy’ service on Sunday after fire in historic building

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The congregation of the historic Auckland church that went up in flames will still meet on Sunday, to continue its “legacy”.

Reverend Grant Ridout watched as dozens of firefighters tackled the enormous blaze at St Stephen’s Presbyterian Church in Ponsonby in Auckland on Saturday afternoon.

At its peak, 18 crews were fighting the fire and two remained on stand-by on Sunday morning, Fire and Emergency New Zealand said.

Ridout told Stuff on Saturday, things weren’t looking good for the inside of the building, but that wasn’t all that mattered: “It’s the people that meet in the building that make the church anyway.”

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The 134-year-old church on Jervois Road is a Heritage New Zealand building made from kauri.

The 20-metre by 40-metre fire broke out in the main hall of the single-story church.

The congregation would still meet on Sunday, he said. There had been a lot of shock and disbelief in the community, “but also optimism that we will move on”.

A Facebook post said they would “continue to worship this Sunday because that is the legacy that we hold”.

Fire crews were called to St Stephen’s church at about 3.30 on Saturday afternoon.

ABIGAIL DOUGHERTY/Stuff

Fire crews were called to St Stephen’s church at about 3.30 on Saturday afternoon.

“We may have temporarily lost our building, but we have not lost each other and God.

“See you either in the carpark, or in the big hall. It will be messy and loose but together we will still worship, one way or another,” the post said.

Black smoke could be seen billowing out of the roof on Saturday.

Abigail Dougherty/Stuff

Black smoke could be seen billowing out of the roof on Saturday.

Ridout said he was not yet sure of the cause of the fire.

FENZ said an investigator was at the scene on Sunday morning.



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