Aus­tralia dio­cese pro­poses clos­ing most of the churches in New­cas­tle

The Church of England - - NEWS -

in the Dio­cese of Quincy case.

The text of the set­tle­ment agree­ment — me­di­ated by Prof John Dou­glass of the Univer­sity Of Rich­mond School of Law fol­low­ing a 8-9 Jan­uary 2013 meet­ing — has not been re­leased so far as it must be signed by all par­ties and re­ceive the im­pri­matur of Bishop Jef­ferts Schori.

A state­ment from the na­tional Church’s press of­fice noted the pro­ceed­ings were closed and no news bul­letins would be re­leased by the par­ties, how­ever sources at the meet­ing report the fi­nal doc­u­ment is an “ami­ca­ble” res­o­lu­tion to the dis­pute. THE DIO­CESE of New­cas­tle (Aus­tralia) has be­gun a con­sul­ta­tion on re-or­ga­niz­ing the dio­cese, with one pro­posal mak­ing re­dun­dant nine of the city’s 15 Angli­can churches.

A copy of the draft report leaked to the New­cas­tle Her­ald last month rec­om­mends clos­ing the con­gre­ga­tions due to fall­ing at­ten­dance and ris­ing costs. Sev­eral of the con­gre­ga­tions are in ar­eas that have seen a shift in pop­u­la­tion with a flight to the sub­urbs.

Nine con­gre­ga­tions would be closed, and the re­main­ing seven re­or­ga­nized into “tiers”. Tierone churches are churches with a con­gre­ga­tion of more than 450 and ca­pa­ble of sus­tain­ing a min­istry and ad­min­is­tra­tion team, tier-two churches have a con­gre­ga­tion of more than 250 peo­ple with two full-time staff and tierthree churches have more than 150 mem­bers and one staff mem­ber.

‘‘Churches fall­ing be­low th­ese bench­marks may not be sus­tain­able in the longer term,’’ the report stated.

Only one par­ish, Christ Church Cathe­dral, with an av­er­age Sun­day at­ten­dance of 250, would qual­ify as a tier one church un­der the scheme.

Sell­ing re­dun­dant build­ings and re­de­ploy­ing as­sets to serve mid­dle class fam­i­lies with chil­dren was a more ra­tio­nal use of church as­sets, the report said. ‘‘The op­por­tu­nity for the Deaner­ies lies in a con­sol­i­da­tion of the wealth of re­sources to help tap into the emerg­ing young pro­fes­sional class of fam­i­lies and cou­ples.’’

How­ever, the As­sis­tant Bishop of New­cas­tle, the Rt. Rev. Peter Stu­art, said the leak of the report was un­for­tu­nate as it gave the im­pres­sion the pro­pos­als were dioce­san pol­icy. The report “does not rep­re­sent the views of the Dio­cese but con­tains pre­lim­i­nary data which will be the sub­ject of con­sul­ta­tion in parishes be­gin­ning in Jan­uary,’’ the bishop said.

In 2010 the dio­cese launched a five-year plan to re­vi­tal­ize the dio­cese, up­dat­ing the way it un­der­takes mis­sion and min­istry in the 21st cen­tury.

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