CHURCHES RE­PRIEVE

The Gazette (Derwent Valley) - - FRONT PAGE - JACK PAYNTER and JAMES KITTO

A FIERCE com­mu­nity cam­paign has saved about a third of Tas­ma­nia’s Angli­can churches ear­marked for sale.

The Angli­can Church soft­ened its con­tro­ver­sial sell-off plans with the Dioce­san Coun­cil this week an­nounc­ing 34 of the 107 prop­er­ties listed for sale had been spared.

The fi­nal sale list con­tains 73 prop­er­ties, in­clud­ing 51 churches, 22 of which have ceme­ter­ies at­tached. The first prop­erty is ex­pected to hit the mar­ket early next year.

High-pro­file churches and ceme­ter­ies are among those granted a re­prieve, in­clud­ing St Mary’s Church in Ha­gley where the re­mains of the state’s first Tas­ma­nian-born pre­mier, Sir Richard Dry, are in­terred un­der the al­tar.

St Al­bans church­yard in Koonya, where Port Arthur mas­sacre vic­tims Nicole Burgess and El­iz­a­beth Howard were laid to rest, was also spared, as was Christ Church Illawarra where Shear­ing the Rams artist Tom Roberts was buried in 1931.

But St James’ church­yard at Jeri­cho, where one of Aus­tralia’s first VC win­ners, Lieuten- ant Colonel John Hut­ton Bis­dee was buried, will be sold.

The Dioce­san Coun­cil re­ceived more than 200 sub­mis­sions from com­mu­nity groups on 38 prop­er­ties and par­ish sub­mis­sions on 34 prop­er­ties.

Angli­can Bishop Richard Condie said it was “good news” for many Tas­ma­nian com­mu­ni­ties.

“We an­tic­i­pate some peo­ple will be dis­ap­pointed about the prop­er­ties that are still on the list,” he said.

“We think we’ve struck the bal­ance be­tween com­mu­nity con­cern, rais­ing the money for re­dress, lis­ten­ing to our parishes and be­ing able to pro­vide a list of prop­er­ties for sale that makes sense to us.”

Bishop Condie said most of the prop­er­ties re­moved from the list were where parishes had raised the funds equiv­a­lent to their re­dress con­tri­bu­tion.

He said parishes across the state had raised tens of thou­sands of dol­lars to save dif­fer­ent prop­er­ties.

“Re­tain­ing 30 per cent of the prop­er­ties will have an im­pact on the funds we are able to raise, how­ever, sac­ri­fi­cial giv­ing from parishes has re­duced this im­pact to the Re­dress Fund,” Bishop Condie said.

He said the church hadn’t cal­cu­lated how much money would be raised from the new sale list yet, but they were ini­tially hop­ing to raise more than $8 mil­lion, with $5 mil­lion from prop­erty sales.

Only 25 per cent will go to fund­ing re­dress. A por­tion will be used for new min­istry devel­op­ment and an amount will be re­turned to the par­ish.

David Downie, chair­man of Save Our Com­mu­nity Soul, a group formed to fight the sale process, said it was great the dio­cese had re­sponded to the sub­mis­sions.

“Un­for­tu­nately there are some churches in the com­mu­nity that haven’t been saved,” he said. “The dio­cese doesn’t have any moral or le­gal right to sell these churches and I urge these com­mu­ni­ties to con­tact us and we will do what we can to help them.”

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