The Anglican Church will sell 73 properties next year, one third less than first flagged, after local parishes chipped in thousands of dollars to fund the redress scheme for survivors of child sexual abuse.
The church’s governing body, the Diocesan Council decided on Saturday to cut the list of properties flagged for sale in June from 107 to 73.
Instead of selling 76 churches, 51 will now be sold including 22 with local cemeteries.
The church received 34 submissions from parishes, 38 community submissions and feedback from 200 community groups.
Anglican Bishop of Tasmania, the Right Reverend Dr Richard Condie said the church had “listened and responded to church and community feedback.”
“This has been a difficult process, and we believe we have struck the right balance between fulfilling our redress obligations, listening to community, and ensuring sustainability of the church,” he said.
“I want to reassure the community that we will have a strategic and staged approach to selling the properties that remain on the list for sale.”
Bishop Condie said most of the parishes removed from the sale list had raised funds for the redress scheme – which amounted to 25 per cent of what would have been needed if the churches were sold.
He could not put a figure on how much had been raised or how much less would be raised with fewer church properties being sold.
“It is in the order of tens of thousands of dollars for different properties,” Bishop Condie said.
“I will be issuing a mandate for the closure of these buildings in the next months so there will be a definite date when all of these buildings will be needed for their final services.
“They will be offered for sale in a staged way and we would love it if they remained in community hands.”
Liberal member for Prosser Jane Howlett commended the decision to save St Alban’s church and burial ground at Koonya where some of the victims of the Port Arthur massacre were interred.
“Obviously, not every church will be retained and I will continue to work with affected local communities to achieve the best possible outcome,” Ms Howlett said.
Labor Lyons member Jen Butler said the protection of several significant churches in Tasmania was “a great win for small communities.”
“Labor’s thoughts go to the remaining communities and Tasmanian families who are grief stricken by the imminent possibility of seeing their local church and relative’s graves sold,” she said.
Greens leader Cassy O’Connor said it had been a difficult time for church and its parishioners.