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The Knox Presbyterian Church. Photo: Supplied

 

By ROBYN BRISTOW

The race is on to save a Cheviot landmark from falling into private hands.

A falling congregation at the Knox Presbyterian Church has left its future in doubt. A small group is now working to ensure it stays in community hands.

A trust has been formed and has until September 1 to raise up to $285,000 to keep the church in public ownership. The price was agreed with the National Presbyterian Property Trustees to reflect the input the community has had to the building over its lifetime.

The Cheviot Knox Community Trust is applying to funding agencies for help.

The Presbytery agreed to sell the church and hall last May.

Benefactors have already given fundraising efforts a kick-start.

It is hoped the takeover date for the church, built from Hurunui River stone in 1955, will coincide with celebrations marking 125 years of Cheviot settlement and its Spring Festival in September.

Trust chair Jane Maxwell says she has every confidence the target will be met.
“Our biggest driving force is not to let it go out of public hands because then it will be
gone for good,” she says.

Once secured, it will be renamed the Cheviot Knox Community Centre to preserve its history and provide a place for the community to meet. It will be hired out for functions, such
as weddings.

Mrs Maxwell says the church is structurally sound, but a small amount has been allowed for some minor earthquake repairs.

“It will be for the long-term benefit and wellbeing of the Cheviot community while not
being a burden to the ratepayers nor reliant on volunteers,” Jane says.

Hurunui Mayor Winton Dalley says it’s a very worthy project.

“The hall is already used by the community as a meeting space, of which Cheviot is not
overly endowed,” he says.

`If it is lost to local ownership it will be a big loss.

It is a special building in a village which is a visitor destination.

“We do not want to lose it and want the public to have the ability to have access for
weddings and events,” Mr Dalley says.

“The reality is the vast amount of funding would be from external sources and it
is not going to be a burden on the community to find the money to buy it.”
If the trust was unsuccessful in getting external funding then the project “can’t happen”, he
says.

Meanwhile, bricks are on sale for $75 each, each of which contains a message from the buyer. These will form a pavement outside the church in the form of a Celtic
Cross.

If the church sale doesn’t happen, Mrs Maxwell says this project will still go ahead
with the pavement area being relocated to somewhere else in the district.