St Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Ashburton.

St Andrew’s parish council will seek formal permission from the Presbyterian Church this week to proceed with about $500,000 worth of earthquake strengthening work on its iconic Ashburton church.

The church has been closed for four years since an engineer’s report said remedial work was needed on the organ loft.

The church was built in 1906 and the loft and sanctuary added in the 1940s.

Services have been held in the church’s Sinclair Centre while the church is out of action.

Minister Eric Mattock said the St Andrew’s parish council was meeting today (Thursday) to formally ask the national presbytery for permission to go ahead with the strengthening work.

The council hoped for an answer before Christmas. Then it could engage a builder who had been helping cost the work; the construction phase would be around six months.

Rev Mattock said the congregation had called a special meeting recently to talk about the renovation work and it had been an easy decision to restore the place of worship.

There would also be repairs and maintenance delayed over the past few years to catch up on.

The parish council would form a rebuild committee to oversee the work.

“We have already got quotes and the building form has been very helpful. It has been a lot of working getting it to this stage.”

Rev Mattock said services in the Sinclair Centre had created some new habits he hoped would continue.

“People would go to church for their worship and go home, only a few would go across to the Sinclair Centre for a cup of tea and some fellowship. Now everyone stays and hopefully that will continue when we do move back into the church.

There were plans in the future to connect the church and centre via a covered walkway.

He said while the parish was excited by the rebuild plans, others in the community would be pleased too.

“It has quite iconic architecture and a rich history.”

The church, at 170 Havelock Street, has a heritage listing.

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