Church or­gan tug of war

Mercury (Hobart) - - NEWS - CAMERON WHITE­LEY

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.

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