Silver lining found after fire - 19th Feb 2018

In early morning stillness and cold, vibrant orange was seen glowing from within the churches’ stained glass.

In 2015 at 5am, First Church Invercargill was the victim of a blaze that singed parts of their staging area.  

A fiery accident that turned sweet, after Nyalle Paris, Minister of First Church, noticed a golden opportunity.

The fire forced them to redesign parts of their chancel and nave area.

“It turned into a great opportunity to better our church!” he said.

Formerly, their church followed a basilica model – a traditional layout.

“[The model] is very respectful, but it distances the congregation from the minister. Lately, churches are adopting a very modern design,” he said.

Nyalle believes theology and style of preaching is demanding a change in church interior design.

“Now, we, the church, are wanting an intimate space."

“We pushed our communion table 20 meters closer."

“It’s fantastic because people welcomed it, even the older generation!” 

40-thousand-dollars has gone into their redesigning, which saw them repaint, demolish barriers and re-construct chairs.

In the shine of the design hangs an old sentimental ornament.

“During the blaze of the fire, congregation member Heather Robinson stormed in and retrieved our sign that hung on the back of the chancel. It reads,” God so loved the world.”

After a movie-like save, the sign is still intact and can be seen today.

First Church might have made fantastic progress in the last two years, but they’re far from complete. Their reconstruction list is still long and weighty.

“We still need to ‘fire-proof’ this building, with more construction, fire alarms and exit signs. It has to be completed by next year. All up, it will cost us 250-thousand-dollars."

It's a lot of money and will take a lot of work and patience. But the church remains positive and is pushing on and seeing God move in their community despite the challenges they face.

« Back to News