Tasmanian congregations will gather for services on Sunday in churches still potentially to be sold, after many anticipated word from the Anglican Diocese about a meeting on their fate – believed to have been held on Saturday.
This comes after changes to the state’s Burial and Cremations Act legislated this week would allow churches housing historically significant graves to be protected as cemeteries.
“It’s all very secretive,” said David Downie, chair of Save Our Community Soul – a group formed in August as a “collective response” after the Anglican Diocese of Tasmania voted in favour of selling 76 churches to help fund their contribution to the national redress scheme.
“I know that there’s some people very concerned as to how their submissions have been received,” Mr Downie said.
“We can’t find out.”
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The Anglican Diocese of Tasmania could not be reached for comment on Saturday, though confirmed to Fairfax Media on Friday an update on the sale process would be coming soon.
The Right Reverend Dr Richard Condie, Bishop of Tasmania, has said the Anglican Church accepted the outcome of parliament's decision to pass burial act amendments this week.
"We genuinely believe that the costs associated with the revised Act will adversely affect Tasmanians and will work hard to minimize these where we can," he added.
It’s all very secretive. I know that there’s some people very concerned about how their submissions have been received.David Downie
The legislation protects cemeteries being sold for other purposes or closed at 50-100 years following the last interment.
Attorney General Elise Archer told The Examiner the recently passed legislation struck the “right balance” and gave certainty about the “burial of loved ones regardless of churches seeking to sell assets”.
“Further, it also ensures that where someone of historical significance is buried inside a church, the building will be treated as a cemetery for the purpose of the Act,” Ms Archer said.
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