Parish­ioners in call for con­trol

The Gazette (Derwent Valley) - - NEWS - LORETTA LOHBERGER

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.

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