By ROBYN BRISTOW
Thieves have desecrated property at the quake-hit Glenmark Church.
A large carved eagle atop a lectern inside St Paul’s Anglican Church has been spirited away after a door was forced, along with two historic entrance gates from the lychgate at the entrance to the church grounds.
The thefts have angered the Glenmark community, which has worked hard to raise money to restore the landmark red-brick church after the September 4, 2010, earthquake, which left it cracked and battered.
It is hoped to start restoration toward the end of next year, at a cost of $1.5 million.
Glenmark/Waikari Parish’s Venerable Canon, Mandy Neil, says the Friends of Glenmark Church and local parishioners are deeply disappointed at the unscrupulous thefts. They have forced the parish to buy security cameras to protect the property.
It is believed the thefts took place during or soon after Canterbury Show Weekend.
“These are heavy items which probably required more than one scoundrel to take them.
“Our concern is that these are treasured historic features of this lovely church, which are very expensive to replace, and some dishonest folk seem to think that they can simply take whatever appeals to them.
“The parish continues to work really hard to try and protect the church from vandals, weather, rats and pigeons that have caused various levels of damage throughout the past eight years, and it is so frustrating to have this theft happen on top of all the other challenges,” she says.
She says she recently surveyed 39 homes in Glenmark Drive and there was almost 100 percent support to restore the unique church, which had served the community since 1905.
Isobel Whyte, a member of the Friends of the Glenmark Church and the Vestry, says, to date, $1m is in hand to bring the church back to life, thanks to insurance money, a Lottery grant and the Friends raising more than $100,000. “We re looking at various ways to get the rest in hand,” Isobel says.
The eagle on the lectern, which is used for Bible readings, stood about 50cm tall and weighed about 2kg. It was donated by Canon Coates, a former vicar of Lyttelton whose grand-daughter, Mrs Agatha Wynn-Williams, lived at Mt Donald, Glenmark Drive.
When the church was built more than 100 years ago, the lychgates were at the bottom of the hill by the main highway, which went through Waipara until mid-1973.
This meant church folk parked their cars and walked up the hill to church.
In the early 1950s a local member, Jack Dynes, used a bulldozer from the local lime works to form a track. With the loan of a flat-deck truck from a
local transport company, shingle provided by a local farmer was hand-shovelled on to the track.
Anybody with information about the stolen treasures is asked to contact the Amberley or Cheviot Police.