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 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.
This 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.Although 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.