Christchurch’s ‘Cardboard Cathedral’ marks another tragedy

A young girl looks out of a window after a service at the Christchurch Transitional Cathedral in Christchurch March 17, 2019, two days after a shooting incident at two mosques in the city. — AFP pic
A young girl looks out of a window after a service at the Christchurch Transitional Cathedral in Christchurch March 17, 2019, two days after a shooting incident at two mosques in the city. — AFP pic

CHRISTCHURCH, March 17 — Worshippers at Christchurch’s “Cardboard Cathedral”, built after the city’s main Anglican church was heavily damaged in a 2011 earthquake, marked another tragedy today, praying for victims of Friday’s mosque massacres.

“We learned during the earthquakes that in times of trial it is good to reach out to each other. It is time to do this again,” Lawrence Kimberley, dean of the church, told his congregation.

Kimberley called upon the worshippers to help build a “counter-narrative that leads from fear to trust, from war to peace and despair to hope” in the wake of the mass shooting by an avowed white nationalist that left 50 Muslims dead.

“We’re standing in solidarity with the Muslim community. What Jesus is asking us to do is build a country where everyone knows they are at home,” he told the gathering of around 100, some wearing green heart stickers as a show of unity with the city’s Muslims.

Kimberley had hoped to hold an open-air, multi-denominational service behind the cathedral today as an act of interfaith solidarity, but put the plan on hold at the request of police.

“We sought advice about that from the police and the police asked us to refrain and do that later because it just wouldn’t be helpful for them at this time,” he explained.

He said the service would now go ahead “when it is safe to do so, to make a strong show of solidarity for our Muslim brothers and sisters”.

The soaring, modernist wood and glass structure, dubbed the “Cardboard Cathedral”, was built as a transitional place of worship after the Christchurch Cathedral was severely damaged in the 2011 quake which killed 185 people.

It has since become one of the most recognisable buildings in the city. — AFP