Brethren Assist in Christchurch Earthquake

Plymouth Brethren Assist in Christchurch Earthquake

Shortly after midday on the 22nd of February 2011 a massive earthquake struck the city of Christchurch. A large cloud of dust rose from the city centre as buildings toppled and fell. 185 lives were lost and the city of Christchurch was changed forever.

The CTV Building February 2011


The vibrant Plymouth Brethren community in Christchurch had been part of the city since the 1850s. This was their hour.

Stunned like their fellow Cantabrian’s, they pulled themselves together and those that were able headed into the city centre to help.

Working through the afternoon, evening and into the early hours of the morning the worked alongside emergency services to pull the injured out of the rubble and search for any sign of life in the piles of shattered concrete and twisted steel.

It soon became apparent to the Brethren on the scene that the army of disaster rescue specialists that were descending on the city of Christchurch would need to be fed. That very night food was being prepared and a BBQ was set up to supply food and drink to the rescue workers. The word quickly spread through the Brethren community and by the next morning meals were being served in Latimer Square.

Christchurch Earthquake February 2011 Japan USAR Plymouth Brethren Free Meal

The world was moved by Christchurch’s plight and search and rescue workers flew in from all around the world, and as the number of rescue personnel swelled so did the Brethren’s catering facility Within days they were catering for 750 workers.
Christchurch Earthquake Plymouth Brethren Food TentThis required a full 24 hour operation and those 750 needed hot food when they returned from their often traumatic and disturbing recovery operations and the Brethren continued to rise to the challenge serving up to 1500 meals a day. They were providing much needed encouragement, sustenance, support and a needed smile to the courageous men and women searching through the wreckage for survivors and recovering the bodies of those that tragically lost their lives in the disaster.Christchurch Earthquake Plymouth Brethren Free Food for USARAlthough many of their own homes and businesses were damaged and families traumatised by the constant aftershocks, the Brethren of Christchurch provided meals for the rescue effort for a full 10 days following the Earthquake, calling on the help of Brethren throughout the country to replenish their stocks of food. The food was sent in by road and air from Brethren Communities from throughout NZ. Brethren from other towns and cities around the country travelled to Christchurch to join the team.

The work was carried out without any expectation of compensation or reward.

The Christchurch City Council recognised this contribution with a Christchurch Earthquake award presented to the Plymouth Brethren Church at the national memorial service held on the first anniversary of the disaster on the 22nd February 2012 at North Hagley Park.

7 thoughts on “Brethren Assist in Christchurch Earthquake”

  1. Peter says:

    Hi there. I was one of the rescuers fed by your efforts during that terrible week at the end of Feb 11. I have since co-authored a book “Responders” on the work of the volunteer response teams following the earthquake. We included a page on the catering operations in Latimer Square. Here is a quote

    “The volunteers manned the serving area with a level of dedication that was appreciated by everyone. On a practical level, it meant that the teams did not have to divert personnel to look after their own catering.”

    I can assure you that your efforts were much appreciated by all those who received them.

    Many thanks.

    1. Interested says:

      Peter, is this book available for purchase? If so how and where?

    2. OAR says:

      Yes i agree, where can we purchase this?

  2. Renny says:

    The more I read about the Plymouth Brethren, the more I struggle with the fact that they are currently struggling to get a charity status.

    1. Me says:

      I am confused too, why do people even think that the Plymouth Brethren aren’t charitable? They obviously haven’t seen this website!

  3. Francis says:

    Well done Christchurch,

    This act of extreme kindness and total unselfishness went largely unnoticed and was paid for totally by the Brethren Church as i understand. I commend these honest and transparent people to anyone in need as they look after you like a king! God bless you all, keep up the fantastic work, and i look forward to coming under your care again in the future. May many more souls find satisfaction and peace through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ as believed in by you people!


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