open door church

Nov 8, 2013

Recently I was driving in Mid Canterbury, and was surprised to find an attractive small church in the most unlikely of places, inland from Bankside / Dunsandel, about 20km from State Highway 1, at a five-road intersection named Te Pirita. 

It was the name of the church that I found most inviting – the “Church of the OPEN Door”.

It is rare to find a church that is unlocked, and I suspected as I stopped that the church might in fact be locked. But not only was it unlocked; the door was actually open, and I was happy to spend some time in prayer in such a welcoming sacred space.
 
As my eyes drifted around the interior of the church I noted a plaque on a side wall:
 
In Memory of 
Private C.W. Reddecliffe
Killed in Action
Italy  20 June 1944
This church was clearly built as a gesture of love to the memory of a young soldier from the Te Pirita area. In a quick Internet search I have not been able to find more information about the church. I don’t even know if the church is of a particular denomination. Readers may be able to provide more information.
 
However the Internet does provide more information about the young soldier. Claude Reddecliffe served in Italy where he died aged 25. He is buried in the Cassino War Cemetery. Link here to his grave information and photo, and link here to our pilgrimage visit to Cassino five years ago.
 
Unfortunately it does not seem as though the church is cared for regularly and the interior has become a bit of a storage room. Perhaps it is because the locals think that people don’t stop in as they are passing.
 
It would be very sad to see this church fall into disrepair, and given my gratitude at finding an open church on my journey, I am happy to use this blog to encourage others to visit and support this little church.
 
There is a visitors book. Make sure you record your visit if you stop – unfortunately I forgot to do this but will next visit. This will let the locals know that their church is visited and appreciated.
 
If you have any more information about the church, or information about Claude Reddecliffe, let me know.
 
May he rest in peace.
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3 Comments

  1. I googled the name on the plaque: Rev William Thomas Blight (1892-1983) was a Methodist minister.

    Reply
    • Thank you for the info.

      Reply
  2. I was so pleased to read ‘Open door church’ November 8, 2013 as I didn’t even know the church existed let alone was In Memory of Private Claude Reddecliffe. My father Richard Reddecliffe, cousin to Claude, also served in WW11 and was one of Claude’s pall-bearers. Dad said Claude was caught and killed in a booby-trap. Dad wrote in a letter home, “I was talking to him the night before it happened never dreamt that he would be dead the next evening”.
    I look forward to visiting the church which is not far from where I live.
    Thank you for posting this article.
    Alison Cox (nee Reddecliffe) March, 2018

    Reply

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