Every Sunday morning there are two events taking place at the church lounge at 288 Oxford Terrace:
9.30am CLASSICAL/TRADITIONAL CHURCH SERVICE
This has hymn singing, organ music, sermon, praying, and other content. It is an hour-long service with
morning tea afterwards.
For more info contact
11.00am CONTEMPORARY/MODERN CHURCH SERVICE
We sing more recent church music lead by a band, there is a sermon, praying, and other content.
Alongside this is a children's programme. Come early for morning tea (from 10.30am).
For more info contact Julie Chamberlain.
There are Youth Group activities during the week, we have a Friday night drop-in, English classes on
Thursday mornings for people new to New Zealand, mainly music for toddlers and their caregivers
on Tuesday mornings, a yoga class for women on Friday mornings, all happening in our church lounge
at 288 Oxford Terrace. There are some other worship and pray events that happen during the week
or monthly, and weekly small groups that happen around the city in people's homes. From time to
time we host a lecture series on certain topics or themes.
As a faith community we would define ourselves currently as evangelical Baptists with a growing focus
on community, discipleship, and mission. We seek to be a place that embraces diversity as we serve
and worship God in this city. There have been a number of staff changes and additions since 2008,
along with some new members and visitors. We are excited about how God is guiding us at this time,
especially since the 2010/2011 earthquakes in Canterbury.
In July 2011 our earthquake destroyed 1881 church building was cleared away and over summer
sunflowers were planted on the site with the help of two classes of children from the Christchurch
East School. Many other volunteers helped make this happen, as well as generous donations of
seedlings and compost from the Greening Spaces project.
On the one-year anniversary of the 22 February 2011 earthquake which killed 185 people, local artist
Peter Majendie of the Sidedoor Arts Trust, with the help of several volunteers created a temporary art
installation called 185 Empty Chairs which reflected on the loss of lives, livelihood and living in our
city following the earthquake on 22 February 2011.
The 185 chairs were placed on 185 square meters of ready-lawn grass, exactly where the pews of the
old church building were placed - except facing the opposite direction.
The concept of The Empty Chair depicts the absence or loss of someone and has been used
repeatedly across time and culture. When artist (Samuel) Luke Fildes (1844-1927) learned
of the death of Charles Dickens, for whom he was illustrating a book, he drew “The Empty
Chair, Gad’s Hill – Ninth of June 1870″ showing Dickens’ empty desk and chair. It was
inspiration to Vincent Van Gogh when, in November 1888, he portrayed the differences
between his temperament, and approach to art and life, and that of fellow artist Gauguin
in two separate paintings.
More recently, public memorials have made use of empty chairs to embody loss of lives,
as in Bryant Park, New York, where the lawn was lined with 2,753 empty chairs facing
south toward the fallen towers ahead of the 10th Anniversary of the September 11th
terrorist attacks — one to honor each person who died in the attacks. Similarly, the
victims of the 1995 Oklahoma bombing are remembered at an Outdoor Symbolic
Memorial, with their names etched on chairs constructed of bronze and glass. In
Krakow, Poland, a memorial to the Jews of the Jewish ghetto was inaugurated on
8 December 2005 and included 33 steel and cast iron chairs (1.4 m high) in the town
square and 37 smaller chairs (1.2 m high) standing on the edge of the square and
at tram stops.
Here, on the site of the fallen 1881 Oxford Terrace Baptist Church building, 185 chairs of all shapes
and sizes symbolize those who lost their lives in the Canterbury earthquake on 22 February 2011.
The individuality of each chair pays tribute to the uniqueness of each person represented.
This church was formed by nineteen English Baptists in 1863 – thirteen years after the founding of
Christchurch. The first minister was Decimus Dolamore, who was one of the pioneers of Baptist
work in New Zealand. The congregation initially met in the Town Hall in High Street, then built
a church on land it had purchased in Lichfield Street (1864), now marked by a plaque on a building
opposite the Bus Exchange. After an unfortunate division within the membership (1867), the people
reunited in 1870 and worshipped in a church in Hereford Street, which was moved to the present
site in Oxford Terrace in 1879. The church has had a long association with the life of the city, has
been involved in setting up new congregations in Christchurch, and was a founding member of the
Baptist Union of New Zealand and the New Zealand Baptist Missionary Society (now called
The church building pictured below was built in 1881 and was destroyed by earthquake and the site
cleared in 2011. Its classical design was notable in a city dominated by Gothic architecture. It was
listed as a Category 1 building under the New Zealand Historical Places Register.
The refurbishment of the interior of the church in the late 1980s provided a light, open space.
The pipe organ, imported from England, was installed in 1915 and continued to play a part in the
10.30am Sunday worship of the church until the building was red stickered following the earthquake
in September 2010. The pipe organ was successfully recovered from the building and is now stored
in pieces at the South Island Organ Company in Timaru.
The building suffered serious damage from the 4 September 2010 earthquake and the front facade
was propped up in anticipation of repair.
The building was totally destroyed by the 22 February 2011 earthquake which caused the side walls
to fall outwards and the roof collaspe.
We also lost three residential properties next to the church site. All of our buildings were insured
and we will eventually replace what was lost with things that suit our twenty-first century expressions
and dreams of Christian-faith-community in our local context.