Following on from the devastating earthquake in Christchurch late February, Mike's Sunday talk on 6 March discussed our response to the tragedy (listen to his talk here). As part of the services that day, a special one-off offering was collected to send down to our sister church, Grace Vineyard, who are working incredibly hard on earthquake relief efforts in their local community. Due to the generosity of members of St Paul's, we managed to raise $26,686 dollars!

You may remember Grace Church leaders David & Lis MacGregor who were the key speakers at our most recent church camp in Totara Springs and are totally wonderful people.  David, on receipt of our gift, said "That is incredibly kind and generous… Thank you so much! We are very grateful for all you have done and would love you to  pass our our thanks to your congregation for that incredible generosity."

In the early days post-quake, Grace Church published the following press release which gives us a good look into the incredible needs in their community and the swiftness and effectiveness of their response:

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"Immediately after the Earthquake on February 22nd, Grace Vineyard set up a Welfare Centre at our Beach Campus in New Brighton. This centre was quickly overwhelmed by the need,  and together with other church teams, local volunteers and a large group from our own church, we quickly started helping to provide vital supplies for locals.
 
The East side of Christchurch is mainly lower socio-economic, consisting of various suburbs like New Brighton, Aranui, Wainoni, South Shore, North Shore, Parklands, Linwood, Avondale.  This area has had many houses destroyed,  and most streets have potholes, are extremely bumpy and covered in sewerage, mud and water.  In short, it is a real mess which will take months to clean up.
 
Most houses in this area still have no power, water, phones or toilets, and many of the residents on low incomes don't have cars, or struggle to afford petrol. People can be seen wandering around in a daze, frightened and feeling hopeless.
 
With encouragement from the local Police, and MP Lianne Dalziel, we moved the Welfare Centre a few metres down the road [to a hall] which is now the major distribution centre for the East side of Christchurch, stocked with food, drinking water, clothes, sanitary needs, cleaning products, toiletries and candles.
 
Open every day from 8am till 6pm, many thousands of people are queueing to collect these free supplies, and we also have friendly people to advise and encourage them.  At different times we have various social services, like WINZ, the Department of Social Development, Free Law Advice, Counselling, Prayer, Physiotherapists and even the local MP, all set up to help people.
 
We are also receiving huge help from the New Brighton Police, Civil Defence, the NZ Army, the City Council, different church groups and other volunteers.   Food is arriving from all over New Zealand in helicopters, trucks, trailers and cars!
 
We are also sending teams door to door, street by street, to assess the needs of dozens of homes where there are many frightened, elderly and insecure people. Many  people break down and weep when our teams arrive.
 
We also have teams delivering groceries and supplies, digging silt and mud from properties, and also moving peoples belongings out of damaged houses.
 
Our Beach Campus has now become a lively drop-in Centre, and also the hub for our administration and volunteer support. There are places to sit and chat and meet others, a TV to watch, games, free hot food served, and even live entertainment. Our Youth Alive Trust has set up a daily Kids Programme in the local school grounds for the many kids who can't go to school.
 
We are continually hearing of people in other areas of the East who were in desperate need of supplies, so we have started to help two other small Help Centres by sending supplies and teams of people to help. These Centres are located at Aranui Primary School (Breezes Rd) and Hampshire St Shopping Area in Aranui.
 
Every day we have new needs for various supplies, which you can find out by visiting our Facebook Grace Earthquake Help page.

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Thanks so much to all of those who gave generously. 

"Now if you have known anything of Christ's encouragement and of his reassuring love; if you have known something of the fellowship of his Spirit, and of compassion and deep sympathy, do make my joy complete--live together in harmony, live together in love, as though you had only one mind and spirit between you. Never act from motives of rivalry or personal vanity, but in humility think more of each other than you do of yourselves. None of you should think only of his own affairs, but consider other people's interests also." Phil 2:1-4