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N.Z. Lutheran church leader calls for prayer

February 23, 2011 No Comment

by James Morgan

Christchurch Cathedral after the earthquake on February 22, 2011 (Photo: theaustralian.com.ca)

“Loving Lord, have mercy,” is the petition from President Robert Erickson of the Lutheran Church of New Zealand as that country recovers from the 6.3 magnitude earthquake that violently shook the South Island city of Christchurch on February 22.

Rev. David Lipsys, a pastor from Christchurch, was attending a church workers conference in Palmerston North when the quake happened. He planned to return home Tuesday evening once the airport had reopened so he could begin visiting parishioners by motorcycle. “Loss of power and telephones, combined with transport restrictions, is making our contact with our church members and friends very difficult,” he said in a news release issued by the Lutheran Church of Australia.

Pastor Lipsys does not believe any Lutherans are among the 75 confirmed casualties. A fragile mobile phone connection allowed Pastor Lipsys to reach his wife who told him their house is badly damaged and might have to be demolished. The church building, which is located outside the hard-hit city centre, is still standing but has to be assessed for structural safety. Other church buildings in Christchurch, including its iconic Anglican cathedral, were severely damaged.

President Erickson is urging Lutherans everywhere to pray for those affected by the earthquake. “This coming Sunday, I am declaring a Sunday of Prayer for the people of Christchurch and surrounding areas,” he said. His son-in-law, a doctor from Australia, was attending a medical conference in Christchurch when the quake hit and escaped the building without injury. He and the other doctors spent Tuesday night in an emergency tent without food or water and have begun to help treat the injured.

On behalf of President Robert Bugbee, Lutheran Church–Canada’s executive for social ministry, Rev. Dr. Leonardo Neitzel encourages Canadians to prayer for those who are dealing with loss; the men and women involved with emergency response; and those providing physical, spiritual and emotional comfort.

This earthquake is the second in six months to cause significant damage in Christchurch, New Zealand. Another serious 7.1 magnitude quake hit the city in September, 2010.