The Gazette (Derwent Valley) - - FRONT PAGE - HE­LEN KEMP­TON and SHAUN McMANUS

THE Angli­can Church’s de­ci­sion to pro­ceed with a plan to sell 108 prop­er­ties to help fund re­dress for sur­vivors of child sex­ual abuse has been met with op­po­si­tion in the Cen­tral High­lands.

Af­ter giv­ing in-prin­ci­ple sup­port to the Re­dress Fund Or­di­nance bill, the synod, made up of clergy and laity, voted to sell the prop­er­ties to pro­vide the money to pay past vic­tims of child­hood abuse on Sat­ur­day.

St Au­gus­tine’s Church at Mac­quarie Plains, St James the Less Church at Oster­ley, St John the Bap­tist Church at Ouse, St Mary’s Church at Gretna, St Mary’s Par­ish Hall at Gretna, and St Peter’s Church, hall and ceme­tery at Hamil­ton are among those to be listed for sale.

All Cen­tral High­lands prop­er­ties are still op­er­a­tional.

Cen­tral High­lands Mayor Loueen Trif­fitt said the churches and ceme­ter­ies needed to re­main in com­mu­nity hands.

“These churches and the ceme­ter­ies are used for fu­ner­als, wed­dings, meet­ings,” Cr Trif­fitt said. “The res­i­dents are very an­gry, heart­bro­ken, up­set, and con­fused.”

Bishop Condie said the vote rep­re­sented a mo­men­tous day.

“To­day is a great day for sur­vivors of sex­ual abuse who have been dam­aged by the his­toric fail­ures of the Angli­can Church in Tas­ma­nia to care for chil­dren,” Bishop Condie said.

The vote was passed af­ter hours of pas­sion­ate de­bate which ap­peared to be split be­tween those from ru­ral and city parishes.

Al­most all the 76 churches slated for sale are in Tas­ma­nia’s ru­ral ar­eas.

The synod was told the prop­er­ties to be sold were ei­ther al­ready sur­plus to needs or likely to be­come so be­cause of dwin­dling con­gre­ga­tions.

Bishop Condie said there was a “very am­i­ca­ble and peace­ful meet­ing and a ro­bust dis­cus­sion”.

“I un­der­stand the emo­tion con­nected to churches as build­ings. But this is about re­dress and that is what mo­ti­vates me,” he said.

Cen­tral High­lands res­i­dent Ron Son­ners, who is part of the Hamil­ton par­ish, tried to stop the mo­tion to sell prop­erty but his at­tempt at Sat­ur­day’s Angli­can Dio­cese of Tas­ma­nia synod did not win sup­port.

“Los­ing the build­ing in which we wor­ship will have a se­ri­ous im­pact on the par­ish,” Mr Son­ners said.

“We have wounds from a for­mer pae­dophile priest which are just heal­ing and we are slowly get­ting peo­ple back into the church.

“I do not ac­cept that we are un­vi­able as a par­ish.

“This vote does not shake my faith and we will con­tinue as a par­ish in some form, but it would be fair to say we feel side­lined.”

There is now a pe­riod in which parishes can seek a re­view of the de­ci­sion to sell a prop­erty, and make a case for its ex­emp­tion. Parishes have un­til Oc­to­ber 1 to make their sub­mis­sion. The Dioce­san Coun­cil will make its fi­nal de­ci­sion on the fu­ture of any prop­er­ties in dis­pute in De­cem­ber.

Cr Trif­fitt said the Cen­tral High­lands Coun­cil would in­clude a mo­tion on its agenda for this month’s or­di­nary meet­ing that con­sid­er­a­tion be given for the coun­cil to hold a com­mu­nity meet­ing or meet­ings to dis­cuss the church’s de­ci­sion.

Ouse res­i­dent Scott Ash­ton-Jones hoped prop­er­ties in his re­gion were granted an ex­emp­tion.

“It will be our view in the com­mu­nity of the Cen­tral High­lands that not many of them ought to close,” Mr Ash­ton-Jones said.

“The church is go­ing to have to make a very good case to the cit­i­zens of the Cen­tral High­lands to close any of them.

“The im­por­tant thing here is this ought to be a re­sult of the par­ish and the com­mu­nity hav­ing a se­ri­ous in­put rather than a to­ken one.”

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