Parishioners in call for control
ANGLICAN parishioners angered by the church’s fire sale proposal want parishes to have control of donations they receive and the chance to decide their church’s fate.
More than 300 people from all over the state filled the Campbell Town District High School gymnasium on Sunday to express their anger at the way the church has proposed to sell properties and to formalise the Save Our Community Soul group.
The state’s Anglican synod voted in June to sell 108 properties, including 76 churches, to help fund a redress scheme for victims of childhood abuse.
Save Our Community Soul committee member and Southern Midlands Mayor Tony Bisdee said those at the meeting supported raising money for redress, but were “outraged” at the process.
“The anger in the room was palpable,” Cr Bisdee said.
“I would hope that we would have a meeting with the bishop [Richard Condie] in the next week or two … we’re hoping that the bishop will reconsider his position, and be prepared to sit down and talk with parishes and communities.”
Those at Sunday’s meeting voted to: REJECT the process of taking the decision of ownership of local churches away from local parishes. CALL for the funds held by the Anglican Church from donations, and particularly from bequests, remain the property of the parish, not of the Diocesan Council. CALL for the Burials and Cremations Act to be strengthened. CALL for a stop to the sale process until legal ownership issues were addressed.
Central Highlands Mayor Loueen Triffett, who gave a community address regarding the Burials and Cremations Act, echoed Cr Bisdee’s comments, saying the community deserve to hear from Bishop Condie.
“I contacted Bishop Condie for both community meetings held earlier this month in Ouse and Bothwell and he declined to attend,” Cr Triffett said.
“He didn’t come and hear the community voice which is quite disappointing.”
Cr Bisdee said several churches had been built on land gifted by locals in the 18th century.
“It was given for a specific purpose and that purpose did not including selling the property,” Cr Bisdee said.
Lyons Labor MHA Jen Butler said opposition to the proposed sale of church properties was growing and called on the State Government to act urgently to address concerns about access to cemeteries and burial places.
“A review of the Burials and Cremation Act is long overdue and the only solution is to grant presumptive interment perpetuity rights to all gravesites across our state,” she said.
Attorney-General Elise Archer said community members were rightly asking questions about the sale of churches.
“While their sale is ultimately a matter for the Anglican Church, we understand the concerns of local communities, which is why the Tasmanian Government is committed to preserving, protecting, and, where appropriate, strengthening both the rights of community members and the obligations on cemetery managers under our review of the Burials and Cremation Act,” Ms Archer said.
An Anglican Church spokesman said the church had made it clear it was interested in community feedback about its proposals to fund redress.
“We recently released guidelines for that community feedback and extended the deadline for submissions to allow time for local groups to consider their response,” he said.