I worship in cardboard

I went to Church on Sunday. It’s the first time I have been to Church in at least a year. It was a great service; standing room only. The congregation was a communion of strangers, tourists and photographers, and this is what we witnessed.

First the approach to the Church, known as the Cardboard Cathedral,( under construction). It is   on the corner of Madras and Hereford Streets, next to Latimer Square. It was formerly home to St John’s ( Church) which was demolished as a result of the damage it sustained during the February 22nd earthquake in 2011. Please, lift up your eyes to the dry, brown Port Hills in the distance.They are awesome in their stark, summer colour.Approaching

The Entrance; showing the remains of the old stone wall and wrought iron fencing of St John’s. St John's Remains

The gate was locked so I went round the corner, onto Madras Street, where the old wall ends. Here, there is a good view of the Eastern Elevation/ wall of the new Cathedral.  Note my valiantly artistic attempt to align the steeple of the old stone wall with the apex of the new wall 🙂Risen in the East Although it is called the Cardboard Cathedral, there is no cardboard in place yet. An adventurous young man, photographing from on top of a higher section of the old wall, kindly agreed to take a photo for me.  Here is the helpful stranger’s photo. I am pleased he has captured a small portion of a sample of cardboard tubing.Viewing from Fence Top

Then, a little further along the way, I took this photo which is my favourite of the day; mostly because of the stormy clouds in the background. But, also, it reminds me of a Cathedral spire reaching for the heavens.Reaching for the Sky

Next I tried a photograph from the erected wall towards Latimer Square, but all I could get was a tilted pyramid. Tilt, tilt, tilt, no matter where I stood. Westward leading

The view to the Port Hills was more straightforward.  If you click on the photo, you may be able to see The Sugar Loaf communications tower which seems, to me, to line up beautifully with the top of the Cathedral’s wall; is this a new, technologically advanced scheme to signal our prayers and wishes  more quickly to the appropriate destination?Out in the East

The white chairs in the distance are a beautiful tribute to the people who died in the earthquakes.

There was no ministering official at  the service. Only a sign to tell us the story.The Story

I had a lovely time at Church. It made me feel  uplifted, enlightened and spiritually revitalised. I love the site for the new Cardboard Cathedral. It is sacred both from its long history of prayer and worship and from its proximity to the traumas of the February 2011 earthquake. I love its openness; the way it is accessible from all directions; the way it opens out to a view of the Port Hills in one direction and the greenery of  Latimer Square in the other. Here is the view towards Latimer Square; imagine how lovely it will be for people to gather on the green after a church service or a community event; lovely, providing it’s a fair weather day, of course.Latimer Square I think I will love the Cardboard Cathedral when it is completed. I already love the fact that the triangular shape connects me to the  transitional V-huts made in Hagley Park by the early settlers. And, I know that I absolutely love Shigeru Ban’s sustainable, recyclable, inspiring designs. And I love that this soon to be Cathedral is super, super unlikely to ever hurt me in the event of another earthquake. It will be one building in the city in which I will feel completely safe and secure.

My visit to Church was very short and sweet, but the highlight of my spiritually invigorating morning came when I  returned to my car. I had parked nearby and left the motor running so that the air conditioning would keep my  ever patient husband cool  ( N.B. animals, husbands and small children should not be left for any length of time in a hot car). I noticed, vaguely, that a person (beer can at his side) was deeply asleep under a tree close by. Not too worried, I whizzed off, camera in hand. On my return, the person had arisen and was approaching, and gesticulating wildly at, the car.  It turned out that a) he was annoyed that the noise of the car had disturbed his peaceful, hung over Sunday snooze, but b) and, more importantly as far as he was concerned, we were ruining the environment by leaving on the car engine. Oh, my MORTIFICATION and GUILT were instantaneous. No church service is complete without Confession, it would seem. So, I promptly confessed my sins and offered profound and humble apologies. Guilty and double guilty, as charged. My only small and pitiful excuse for such aberrant, and ecologically unsound, behaviour was the heat. The heat; it had to be the Heat.

If you want to know more about the Cardboard Cathedral, Shigeru Ban or V-huts click on the following links which I found very interesting.





As a final note; when I refer to east and west in the post it is in relation to the  Eastern and Western Elevations which are referenced to elevations in  the old, earthquake damaged Cathedral in the Square. I am not sure of the exact orientation of the new Cathedral site but my inner compass tells me it is North/South-ish. I could be entirely wrong because trying to understand where one is, in much of the city these days, is like walking through a maze blindfolded.

© silkannthreades

12 thoughts on “I worship in cardboard

  1. shoreacres

    I’m just thrilled that you were kind enough to leave me some links. It’s a real thrill to be able to see the Cathedral in its beginning, and to have your impressions of it then. I’m looking forward to following the links you left here, and reading your other post.

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      The old cathedral and the transitional cardboard cathedral have created a great deal of controversy but I, for one, am very glad that the Anglican church made this bold move to build the cardboard cathedral. It is a symbol of hope.

  2. Pingback: And the Bishop says….. | silkannthreades

  3. Clanmother

    A beautiful post which embraces the depth and breath of worship. As Thomas Carlyle once said: “Worship is transcendent wonder.” I have a feeling he would like the cardboard.

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Definitely. Cardboard is worthy of some worshiping. It is an amazing material which we use in many different areas of our life. Where would we be without it? Totally undone in some cases 🙂 Biscuits would have to return to barrels.

  4. Virginia Duran

    This post is one of the best I’ve read so far about architecture! It made me laugh a lot. I have to admit that the church to be (the one of the link) is not amazing, anyways, until built we’ll have to be patient. You gave me an idea for my next post, will keep you updated. Oh and I look forward to reading about other buildings around you 🙂

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I am glad you enjoyed my post and my sense of humour! I am certainly looking forward to the completion of the Cardboard Cathedral. I am very curious to see how it looks off the drawing board.

  5. utesmile

    Interesting, it does not look that they are very far with building it…… and it says completed early 2013… let us know. Glad you enjoyed the church and the service. Probably you should take your husband in next time too… with a fan! We got snow today… in London, cold…..brrrrr


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