Church organ tug of war
A DISPUTE between a Dunalley community group and the Anglican Diocese over the sale of a historically significant church in the town has taken another twist.
The Dunalley Heritage Fellowship has initiated legal action in an attempt to recover a range of items in the church, that they say belong to the community. This includes an organ and stool they say were donated by a local family, and other items of furniture.
The legal action comes after negotiations between the parties for the potential sale of St Martin’s Church to the community broke down.
This week, the church building was listed for sale for offers over $140,000.
The group had offered $50,000, which was rejected by the diocese.
The Anglican Diocese put the Arthur Highway church up for sale last year as part of its commitment to fund a redress scheme for victims of childhood abuse.
The church — which was the only public building left standing after devastating bushfires in 2013 — was built by the Dunalley community in 1918 and was consecrated in 1934.
Group member Andrew Dunbabin said a lawyer had been engaged in an effort to try to recover the items.
“We had always been concerned that if we didn’t buy the church, whether we would be permitted to have access to the contents,’’ he said.
Damian Egan from Murdoch Clarke lawyers confirmed he had made contact with the Anglican Diocese on Thursday.
“We’re seeking advice from the church about the return of movable items within the church, for the return of parishioners’ property,’’ he said.
Mr Egan said he had asked for a response to the inquiry by Monday.
The Anglican Diocese confirmed it had received correspondence from Murdoch Clarke, but said “it would be inappropriate for us to make any further comment at this stage”.
Mr Dunbabin said the group was currently “out of the picture” in terms of the sale of the property.
He said the community group’s $50,000 offer was based on a significant investment he said was needed to refurbish the building.