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Saint Michael & All Angels Parish, in Christchurch, New Zealand, aspires to the Anglo-Catholic way of worship inspired by the 19th century Oxford Movement in the Church of England. This movement aimed at restoring the High Church ideals of the 17th century, spurred on by the progressive decline of Church life, and the spread of a reform liberalism, which sought to erode the faith and practice of the early catholic and apostolic tradition. However, the mission of the parish has also been influenced by the exigencies of modern life. We have taken on board such 20th/21st century issues as:

1.The ordination of women to the three orders of sacred ministry;

2.The Gospel ministry of all the laity – through their Baptism into Christ;

3. Acceptance of all people as bearers of God’s image and likeness – regardless of gender, race, religious affiliation, social or cultural background;

4.The upholding of the catholic and apostolic fundamentals of the Christian faith as supported by the Anglican Church of Aotearoa / New Zealand, and adhered to by its 3 tikanga partners: Maori, Pakeha and Pacifica. We consider ourselves AFFIRMING CATHOLICS.

The fullness of the Anglo-Catholic tradition was introduced to the parish of St. Michael and All Angels by Father Burton, an English priest who began his ministry at St.Michael’s in 1910, having been influenced by the Oxford Movement. The previous Vicar of the parish had been the Revd Walter Averill, who later became Archbishop of New Zealand. He helped to steer the parish towards its eventual Anglo-Catholic ethos but it remained for Fr. Burton to introduce the more overt Anglo-Catholic liturgical practices that were to form the basis of St. Michael’s present-day faith and worship.

As in other New Zealand Anglican parishes aspiring to introduce the more catholic aspects of faith and devotion in their presentation of worship, the clergy of St. Michael’s experienced some difficulties in the early days – in the way of suspicion from some of the hierarchy and clergy of the diocese. However, the devoted care and teaching of members of the Community of the Sacred Name who staffed St. Michael’s School, which was part of the parish plant and outreach, helped to allay most of the criticism and eventually to dispel any doubts as to the credibility of the mission of the parish to the people of Christchurch.

The Daily Mass – in the Pilgrim Chapel - has long been an established tradition in the parish, and is presently maintained with the willing help of a team of dedicated (and honorary) retired clergy. With such a team of ordained people, and the assistance of a large team of servers, the Daily Mass and the Sunday solemn services exemplify the sacramental heart of our ministry to the Church and the World.

Sunday Worship consists of an 8am Mass from the Book of Common Prayer (1662) in the Lady Chapel. The 10am Solemn Sung Mass is celebrated at the Nave Altar, with president, deacon & sub-deacon.

At 7pm, there is Solemn Evensong & Benediction (see Welcome page for daily services)

Celebration of Liturgy. St. Michael’s treasures its tradition of liturgical observance. The Sunday Mass and Evensong & Benediction – as well as special Solemn Celebrations on major Saints and Feast Days – set out to proclaim the glory of God with the use of incense, processional Cross and banners, robed choir, servers, lay as well as clergy ministry. We celebrate the complementarity of all God’s people in worship.

The Reserved Sacrament is housed in the carved wooden Wakahuia, the Maori version of the traditional hanging pyx, which helps to facilitate the Distribution of the Eucharist to the Sick and Housebound, and reminds visitors to the Church of our bi-cultural roots, and the Presence of Christ in our community.

A weekly Healing Service takes place at the 12.15 Mass on Thursdays, at which the Laying-on-of-Hands and Holy Unction are administered

A statue of Our Lady of Walsingham, carved locally and donated by a former parishioner, stands near the great West door, and is a focus of devotion to Our Lady. The standing candelabrum is available for votive candles, providing an opportunity for requesting intercessory prayers.

The Sacrament of Penance is available on request to any of the clergy.

The Building

Saint Michael and All Angels was the first church in Christchurch. the original building was a makeshift schoolroom-cum-church so small that people were likely to hit their heads on the beams. Its early history, closely connected with that of a young settlement, vividly illustrates the problems of colonial life. Yet, by the late nineteenth century, St Michael's with a fine new church in the heart of a growing town, was the leading Anglican parish in the Diocese of Christchurch, perhaps in New Zealand. Its worship and life were typical of those aspired to by many Anglican churches in New Zealand for the next fifty years. From 1910 however St Michael's diverged somewhat from this model. It became, and has remained, a sometimes notorious example of Anglo-Catholicism in New Zealand.

St Michael's is a Late Victorian Gothic building combining elements of the French fourteenth century gothic, and English Medieval styles. It was designed by William Fitzjohn Crisp and is one of the few buildings known to be designed solely by Crisp. The church is constructed entirely of Matai timber (native black pine) on rubble stone foundations. St Michael's is one of the largest timber churches of its style in the world and possesses a warmer atmosphere than one you would find in a stone building. Such a massive timber building requires an intricate framework, with pillars carved from single trees supporting nave arches and huge tie-beams in the roof structure. Structurally the church has changed little since completion in 1872, the only alteration being the 1896 removal of a tie-beam and secondary arch to give a better view of the east window.

Bell and Belfry

Erected in 1861, the belfry was designed by Canterbury's leading Victorian architect, Benjamin Mountfort. He also designed the provincial chambers and some of the windows in St Michael's. The bell it houses was brought out with the first four ships in 1850, and was rung every hour of daylight to indicate time to the early settlers. It is still used to ring the Angelus and to call the faithful to worship everyday.