By SHELLEY TOPP
David Petrie, who was married in the Methodist Woodend Church 56 years ago, never thought it would survive the damage from the 2010 Christchurch earthquake.
It was too severe, he thought, especially to one outside wall.
Last Saturday, he was happy to be proved wrong.
Mr Petrie, who tied the knot there in March 1962, said it was a big thrill to see the church returned to its former glory.
The church, which first opened in 1911, reopened its doors on Saturday after an extensive restoration programme.
The opening and dedication ceremony and service was held at the church on Main North Road, where visitors were welcomed by Reverend Philomeno Kinera.
Special guests included the Methodist Church of New Zealand president, Reverend Setaita Taumoepeau Veikune, the Methodist Church of New Zealand general secretary, Reverend David Bush, the Central South Island Synod District superintendent, Reverend Kathryn Walters, Waimakariri District Mayor David Ayers, the parish council chairman, Reverend Norman West, and the church restoration committee chairman Brent Garnett.
The restoration project by heritage architect Ian Butcher, based in North Otago, included modifications to the church to extend its use to the wider community.
The church has a special meaning for Mr Ayers and his family because four of his great great grandparents, Thomas and Elizabeth Ayers and William and Sarah Judson, are buried in the cemetery behind the church.
David and his wife Marilyn are on the church’s restoration committee.
“Churches, along with a lot of other community groups, fulfil an important community function in bringing like-minded people together, and in the case of churches that like-mindedness is of people who care about those around them,” he said during the service.
“The Waimakariri District suffered heavily in the earthquake sequence of 2010-2011.
“Today’s reopening marks yet another step on the way to recovery.”