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Christchurch earthquake: Lyttelton prays for missing

By Susie Nordqvist

The service at the Union Parish Chapel.
The service at the Union Parish Chapel.

High on the hill above Lyttelton stands the sole survivor of four churches in the port town, which this morning became a place of worship for people from all denominations who came to pay their respects to the dead and pray for the missing.

Reverend Neil Struthers told parishioners at the Union Parish Chapel that the Lord had looked favourably upon the parish and Lyttelton would rise from the ashes again.

"It will because God is with us."

"If we pray and if we love and if we talk and share we will get a town equally as iconic and as beautiful as the town we have lost in the earthquake."

Struthers spoke of the town's losses - the two men who were killed in the hills above Lyttelton, and another in Redcliffs who was struck by a rockfall while out picking strawberries for his lunch.

There was the organist from Riccarton who was killed while helping another church in the city move its historic organ, and the couple whose wedding was delayed when the venue they were to marry at was red carded following the quake.

"Nature is no respecter of religion, but God is with us as we walk through the valleys of the shadow of death," Struthers said.

Struther's own church, The Holy Trinity Anglican Church - the oldest stone church in Canterbury - lies in ruins down the road.

Two other churches in Lyttelton are also uninhabitable following the earthquake.

Struthers said if the town was going to rebuild from the churches that had been destroyed, then a community church could be an option.

One woman spoke of her experience of the quake and the fact she had walked downstairs to the front door of her home just moments before it struck.

"I said afterwards 'God you must have known, thank-you' because if I had of still been upstairs I would not be here today."

The quake had been hard on the people of Lyttelton and Struthers said he hoped that the decision to hold a service in the last church standing in Lyttelton, had delivered some sort of normality to those people.

"I even snuck into my church to get my robes. Not that people think wearing robes are normal, but I thought at least some of you who are Anglicans would appreciate it and a feel a little at home," he said.

Struthers said he was asked yesterday where God was in the midst of the devastation.

"I told them God is here but remember he doesn't live in buildings any longer, he lives in the hearts and lives of you and me. "

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