The site of Napier Anglican church St Augustine's is likely to be used for social housing following demolition early in the New Year.
While the demolition of the 60-year-old landmark, its bell tower and its adjacent church hall is scheduled for February, decisions on the future of the site are still to be made.
Anglican Diocese of Waiapu registrar and Waiapu Board of Diocesan Trustees secretary Colleen Kaye says the board believes up to nine housing units could be accommodated on the site, which fronts the intersection of Riverbend Rd and Latham St.
Such a concept could include a "hub" doubling as a small place of worship, although parishioners are expected to continue with the second church in the parish, St Luke's, in Vigor Brown St.
The clearing of the site will see the removal of a "side chapel" which was dedicated to suspected abduction and murder victim Kirsa Jensen.
Her father Rev Dan Jensen headed the parish at the time she disappeared at the age of 14 while horse riding on the beachfront at Awatoto in September 1983.
Bishop of Waiapu Andrew Hedge said that while demolition is scheduled for February, the site would probably "lie fallow" as a green space, possibly for two to three years, while plans were worked-through with agencies and possible partners, such as Government, the city council, iwi representatives and other housing providers.
Built 60 years ago, the church closed abruptly in November 2014 after failing an earthquake-risk assessment, meeting just 5 per cent of the national building standards and being deemed unsafe.
It had at the time come as a big blow to parishioners with Christmas looming, some in the midst of organising what had been a particularly popular annual nativity presentation, said Kaye, one who Bishop Hedge says has particular "skin in the game." She was baptised in the church.
After detailed examinations of the options, the board considered both the cost of strengthening or rebuilding and what had been diminishing sizes of congregations. It decided late last year the building options weren't viable and the church "should come down", said Kaye.
The church hall had been able to remain in use, mainly for a dance studio's ballet lessons, but upgrading of that facility had also been considered to be too costly, the overall project being handed from the parish to the diocese. Kaye said it would have been the preferred option to relocate the hall, but that was not viable.
Already, most of the chattels have been removed, with use being made of items in the memorial chapel, including returning items to Kirsa's mother, Robyn Jensen, who was consulted in the process.
A war memorial church organ, dating back to before the Hawke's Bay Earthquake in 1931, will be sent to musicologist Dr Ron Newton to be based with the New Zealand Organ Museum Trust in Herbert, North Otago.
Kaye said that with a housing crisis that had developed over the years and the church's own commitment to social services, providing social housing would help the church meet the obligations it believes it has to support families and the community.
The church was built in 1960, dedicated the following year and consecrated after becoming freehold in the early 1970s.
A deconsecration service, effectively the return of the site to secular use, will be held with Bishop Hedge officiating next Wednesday, starting at 5.15pm, at the entrance to the church, or in the hall if weather is unsuitable.
During the service parishioners will be able to contribute their views of the role of the church in their lives.