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.”