Part of the fire-ravaged St John's Church has been demolished, but with a new temporary venue confirmed church leaders are looking to the future.
A 12-tonne yellow excavator took to the charred church yesterday, knocking down the most severely damaged parts of the building.
Minister Lance Thomas said the demolition was done for safety reasons.
"It's pretty sad, you reflect on the wonderful things you've done in the space."
He said the main concern was to make the site safe, and to remove loose iron, as a "good wind could pick it up and blow it away".
"It's a work in progress, the next step for the building would be in the hands of its insurers."
Property manager Owen Roberts said there would be decisions to be made, including getting insurers in to address claims if the floors could be salvaged.
St John's Church had been employing security guards 24/7 to ensure public safety since the fire tore through the church on February 8.
Local Tina Rakoczy, a member of the St John's congregation, said seeing the building pulled down was unbelievable.
"We drove past and stopped to watch ... this is where we used to worship and meet friends. There's so many memories."
Walking past St John's every day meant she would miss the church, said Carol Morris.
"My flatmate is a member and she is really heartbroken. It's sad to see it now like this."
Ann Woolliams was taking photos of the demolition.
"It's a bit sad to watch ... my mum married in the old St John's and older members of my family helped start this church."
Minister Ed Masters said the church community would temporarily relocate to the former Rotorua Club building on Fenton St, though he admitted temporary meant "a couple of years, until we rebuild".
He said they would call the new building "St John's on Fenton".
"We are in good heart. It's exciting to be able to continue the work we do. We continue to love and serve the city the best we can."
The first service would be held on Fenton St on Sunday March 19 and Reverend Richard Dawson, moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand, would speak at the service.
Mr Masters said St John's was moving forward thanks to the continued support, generosity and hospitality from the community.
"We've been able to get our ministry groups up and running, such as Foodbank, in a few weeks, and our youth groups. It's been humbling and mind-blowing."
St John's Church
● The Presbyterian church was devastated by fire on February 8
● An investigation ruled a failure of a set of fluorescent lights caused the fire.
● Church services will take place in the former Rotorua club building on Fenton St from March 19.
Facebook reactions to church's demolition
● So many amazing memories attached to this building. Very sad to see it go.
● Definitely makes my heart sad.
● I miss the bells on Sundays.
● So sad to see that lovely church going.
● Make way for the new.
● Never thought I'd see stuff like this happen where I born and bred. Sending love to St John and Rotorua community. Kia kaha from across the pond.
● So many wonderful memories of lives been changed. God has greater things in store for you.
● Very sad, I used to go there and met a lot of lovely people before I moved to Tauranga.
● The faster it gets demolished the faster they will rebuild another.
● So sad to see that beautiful church going.
● Thank you for helping me and my family out when I was in a time of need and help for kai ... So grateful.
● Very sad. Have been to some lovely services and weddings in this church.
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