Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » The Christchurch Earthquake on Facebook

The Christchurch Earthquake on Facebook

By: Ardis E. Parshall - February 25, 2011

Soon after Tuesday’s earthquake in New Zealand, the Christchurch Stake set up a Facebook page to inform Latter-day Saints in New Zealand of member needs, opportunities for service, contact information, and encouragement. This is how we do disasters now.

For readers who don’t use Facebook, and because it might be interesting to look back months or years from now for an example of social media at work in the Church, I’ve cut and pasted some (not all) of the first three days’ representative status updates, and transcribed the video statements. There is a sense of immediacy in these brief statements that will disappear from accounts written after the emergency has been dealt with.

Mormon history in the making:

Christchurch Stake Earthquake joined Facebook.

Wednesday, February 23, 12:02 a.m.

Please promote this page out to all Christchurch Stake members on facebook

Wednesday, 12:19 a.m.

To all Christchurch Stake Members,

On behalf of the Christchurch Stake Presidency, we hope and pray that you and your families are safe and well.

At this early stage, please ensure that you take care of yourselves, families, neighbours and friends where possible. We are in the process of working through unit leaders to try and ascertain who is in need of urgent assistance within the Stake. If you, or know anyone who is in need of assistance or shelter, please ensure that you get in contact with you local unit leaders to pass this message on, or by any other telecommunication means eg. Text, Facebook, email etc.

Key messages from city leaders at this stage are to stay at home where possible, not to enter the Christchurch CBD and to try and assist those in need. Please be prepared to open your homes if they are habitable to those who have no shelter. Unit leaders may ask your assistance in accommodating people and we hope that all members will assist where possible under their direction.

We have been talking with the Red Cross and will be meeting again this morning to see where volunteer help can be given and what assistance we can provide as members through the next few days and weeks. Again, please be prepared to help out in all different types of ways if you are in a position to do so in the coming days. More information will be given out by local unit leaders as it comes to hand.

Church buildings will be reviewed over the next couple of days and a decision will be made and correspondence sent out as to what happens this Sunday and subsequent Sundays for church meetings.

We will be keeping all members up to date with information on at least a daily basis through all communication channels as possible. Please pass this message on to members who may not be in a position to receive these message by using your Home and Visiting Teaching channels.

Our thoughts, prayers, and love are with you and your families. We love you all and pray that you are safe.

Love Pres. McDonald

Wednesday, 12:43 a.m.

As soon as we get an update on church buildings in the Christchurch area, we will post information on here. At this stage, please refrain from attempting to enter any of the church buildings

Wednesday, 12:49 a.m.

If your home is available to accommodate other members, please let one of your local unit leaders know

Wednesday, 1:11 a.m.

Pres. McDonald has asked that if assistance is required at any of the refuge centres across Christchurch to please assist in any way possible if you can. Please ensure you let them know you are from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Wednesday, 1:16 a.m.

Pres. Healy from Rangiora Branch has asked all Rangiora members who would like to assist in any way in the Rangiora community to contact Marieke & Andrew Murphy on 03 313 1469 or 027 484 9990 or 027 671 3381 . They will be the representing the Branch for coordinating with local civil defence and other agencies in the area on what assistance is needed.

Wednesday, 2:20 a.m.

Rangiora members can can also just turn up at their house anytime today at 59 Bush St to receive assignments.

Wednesday, 2:27 a.m.

Report from Cashmere:

Bishop Boyd has contacted all members through Priesthood and Relief Society channels and all is well and people are in good spirits. There is some damage but all are safe and most have power.

Wednesday, 2:40 p.m.

Report from Wainoni:

Bishop Tupua’ilei has contacted all members through Priesthood and Relief Society channels and all is well. Many are without power and water on the East side of the city, but are staying with family or other ward members out Hornby was where everything is fine.

Wednesday, 3:38 p.m.

Report from Timaru

President Kereama reports that all are well, and are keen to provide help when called upon. The shake was strong down there as well, but no bad damage.

Wednesday, 4:36 p.m.

On behalf of Bishops & Branch Presidents, we want to thank you for checking on all your Home & Visiting Teaching families assigned to you. If have not yet managed to get in contact with your assigned families, please keep trying and make this aware to your unit leaders. If you know of any families needing assistance, please let your unit leaders know so they can start making necessary arrangements.

Wednesday, 8:36 p.m.

Avonside Members:

If you or know of any Avonside members whose families are needing to be evacuated from their homes, please inform the Avonside local unit leaders and they will work with you to coordinate efforts.

Wednesday, 9:39 p.m.

Update from and FOR Avonside:

Tom Hedges’ home is the designated drop-off point if any Avonside members would like to and can donate any non-perishable food items and other items. Address is 12 Wattle Drive, North New Brighton. Please call 021 858 288 for more information on the drop-off point.

Note that other wards will soon have designated drop-off points as well. Please use these and avoid unnecessary travel.

Thursday, transcription of video statement

President Maurice McDonald, Christchurch Stake President

Brothers and sisters, friends and families within the Christchurch Stake, I bring you the love of us as a Christchurch Stake presidency, and the love of our leaders from New Zealand and from other areas.

I speak to you with a few words at this time under these difficult circumstances. The scale with the loss of life and the damage that has affected so many people, greater than previous – so many have experienced or known those that have had an impact, either directly or through others that we are in contact with, whether it be through that loss of life or through homes that have been evacuated or are in a bad state of repairs.

At the moment we are pleased to be working closely with the Red Cross. We have had the opportunity to provide supplies at a local level, and we are waiting at this time for supplies to come into our city, particularly water and non-perishables which will be arriving in our city over the next couple of days.

It can be important to each of us to feel useful, and it can be frustrating at times when we are wanting and waiting for something to do. It is a wonderful thing that so many have organized themselves, rallied together and done exactly what is needed, that they have been able to look to our displaced and disrupted members, and roll their sleeves up and help each other, with their neighbors and within our communities.

It is unfair of me at this time to name people, as there are so many that are assisting so many in many different ways. These are difficult times, times that we need to look after our friends, our family, our neighbors, and ourselves. We have been – just to let you know, we have been inundated with wishes and with love from stakes and districts throughout New Zealand, particularly with offers of supplies and homes that have been opened for those Saints who just want a break or some respite from the events of the last couple of days. We ask that you direct your needs, any particular needs that you have, or that you know of, that you are aware of families, whether they be members or those within our community, directly to your unit leaders so that we are able to meet those needs and to react immediately to those who need that particular help.

We love you. Our Heavenly father loves each one of us. Being hit twice in the last six months has been something that each of us needs to continue to reach out and to lift each other, like we never have before. Remember to look out, look across the fence, look to our neighbors, look to each other, and be able to do all that we can by ensuring that we are productive and that we feel that we are contributing in any way possible.

Thursday, 3:47 a.m.

We have been inundated with support from other Stakes & Districts from all over the country offering beds and rooms to affected members. If you or your family need a home, or break away from Christchurch and would like to take up any offers of this generosity please let your local unit leaders know.

Thursday, transcription of video statement

Message for Rangiora/Kaiapoi Branch members from Pres. Healy

This is a message to all the members of Rangiora/Kaiapoi Branch from the branch presidency.

Just like to let you know that everything up here is under control. We are all prepared to do whatever is necessary. I’d just like to remind all of our members to firstly be mindful of your children. They need your attention, they need your love, they need your comfort, and it’s important that they are cared for.

But especially as a branch we are going to be needing some help at the center here in Kaiapoi/Rangiora, so please be available and help wherever you can. We need to contact Marieke and Andrew for those of you who want to have any assistance or to help. Their number is on the website, so please keep an eye on the website which Nathan is updating every – on occasions. have a look in there to see what’s going on, and we’ll try to keep you up to date with whatever is going on at the moment.

So that’s my message to you, and also just to send you our love, and hope that everything is okay. If you need anything from us, just please let us know. Pres. Healy. Thank you very much.

21 hours ago


The Rangiora Welfare Centre will be requiring a lot of assistance as many people from Christchurch who are being evacuated will be coming to Rangiora. Pres. Healy has asked that if any members are able to help out in Rangiora that they check in with the Rangiora Earthquake Coordinators Marieke & Andrew Murphy to receive instructions before proceeding on to the Rangiora Welfare Centre.

19 hours ago

Update from Cashmere

Bishop Boyd sends his love and thoughts to all members affected. He continues to encourage Cashmere members to go through the local unit leaders to see what assistance can be provided.

17 hours ago

Update to all Christchurch Stake Members

Please contact Pres. Healy on 027 512 0110 who is liaising with the Housing Dept before 9pm tonight if you or know anyone who are in a position to temporarily house any general members of the public. There is an urgent need from the community for this immediate assistance. Thank you for your kindness and support.

15 hours ago

All four of our central ChCh meeting houses are now damaged to differing degrees. We ask members of these wards who are affected to either stay at home this Sunday, gather together with family & friends, or attend either Rangiora, Ashburton, or Timaru Services. Mid next week we will review the situation for the following Sunday.

13 hours ago

Cathie Wharemate

passing on this info just in case you dont have it: Community laundries are being set up for quake-affected Christchurch people.

Fisher and Paykel has set up two laundries so far – one at 79 Shands Road, Hornby, and the other at the corner of Berswick and Charles St, Kaiapoi. They are open 8am to 4pm. Other potential sites are being investigated.


Area Presidency Statement on Christchurch Earthquake

Wednesday 23 February 2011

We are deeply concerned for the people of Christchurch at this time. Many have lost their lives due to yesterday’s 6.3 magnitude earthquake. We extend our love and sympathy to families and individuals who are grieving.

We are grateful for and marvel at the courageous leadership of Mayor Bob Parker, his fellow council officers and all others engaged in the difficult task of rescuing those still trapped in buildings. This is in addition to all they are doing to manage other aspects of the disaster response.

Many other churches, organizations and individual volunteers are reaching out to neighbours and others to identify urgent needs and do what can be done to provide medical aid and to bring relief and comfort to those who are suffering. Our own church’s leaders and members are busy assessing needs and resources among our own faith community, as well as reaching out to our neighbours and friends in Christchurch communities.

We are grateful for the inspiring and unwearying leadership of Maurice McDonald, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Christchurch stake. He and other Church leaders in Christchurch are not only taking care of their own families but also supporting many other individuals and families. We in the Pacific Area Presidency, along with many others throughout New Zealand and overseas, continue to pray for those who are grieving the loss of loved ones, for those who are injured and suffering, for the elderly and children who are especially traumatised, for Civil Defence, rescue and medical workers, and all others impacted by yesterday’s earthquake.

We invite members of our church to join with us and those of other faiths to pray to God with all of our might – that lives may be saved, wounds healed, hearts comforted and families united in safety. As a church bearing the name of Jesus Christ, we will continue to do as the Saviour would have us do. We will work with government and other groups to bring help, healing and hope to those affected by this disaster.


Elder Tad R Callister
Elder James J Hamula
Elder Brent H Nielson




  1. Thank you for putting this on Keepa. I agree that it is history that needs to be preserved.

    Comment by Maurine Ward — February 25, 2011 @ 12:38 pm

  2. This reminds me of all of those folks on our ward roster that we don’t know yet, and need to get to know. If something happened here, we would not want an emergency to be the first time they’ve heard from us.

    Sobering, but very important to read these statements. Thanks, Ardis.

    Comment by kevinf — February 25, 2011 @ 1:00 pm

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