Churches live on wing and a prayer to save ‘community soul’

FOR SALE: Lyons Labor MHA Jen Butler said she was confident St Mary's Church at Hagley would be saved by the community.
FOR SALE: Lyons Labor MHA Jen Butler said she was confident St Mary's Church at Hagley would be saved by the community.

A number of Anglican churches may be saved, just two months after being marked provincially as for sale.

St Matthias’ Church at Windermere announced on Tuesday it had raised $45,000 to potentially exempt it from being sold.

The church was one of 108 properties proposed to be sold to help cover the diocese’s impending bill for the national redress scheme for sexual abuse survivors.

Churches across the state are on the verge of organising similar fundraising efforts or mulling over ways to provide funds required to stop any sale from occurring. 

On Tuesday, a newly formed group met for the first time to discuss different strategies to stop any sales going forward.

The new group is called Save Our Community Soul.

“There are many groups in the Tasmanian community, parishioners and community members, who are dismayed by the actions being taken by the Anglican Church,” Northern Midlands mayor and meeting chairman David Downie said. 

“These people have been working locally, but are looking for a capacity to work on a state basis.

“This group is the start of a collective response.”

Expected contributions to the redress scheme from each property sale amounts to 25 per cent of the sale price, with a further 60 per cent of the proceeds staying in the parish and the remaining 15 per cent going to the diocese.

If churches were able to raise a quarter of the property’s estimated value alternatively, the diocese anticipated this would lead to a sale exemption.

One church that looks set to be saved from auction is the Holy Trinity Anglican Church at Beaconsfield.

“We’re moving toward keeping the church intact at Beaconsfield,” Holy Trinity Anglican Church parishioner Barry Easther said.

“The parish has made a decision that they want to keep the church and we’re confident we’ll be able to do that. 

“The parish have had a couple of meetings about it and I think it will be through investment funds.”

Lyons Labor MHA Jen Lyons said there would be a number of other meetings to discuss how to save individual churches, including a state-wide gathering at Campbell Town later this month.