Communities around the state’s North processed their losses on Monday after the Anglican Diocese released its final list of properties to be sold, with a Labor MHA calling the government to action over one.
Lyons Labor MHA Jen Butler thought the decision to sell Hadspen’s Church of the Good Shepherd was “distasteful”.
At Avoca, St Thomas’ Church was one of the 51 churches slated for closure and sale on the final list.
Changes made to the Burials and Cremations Act last week meant the Church of the Good Shepherd would be regulated as a cemetery, giving it stronger protection against a sell-off, Ms Butler said.
“The decision by the Diocese to now try to sell the church could be challenged under this act and the government should intervene to ensure this significant site is protected.”
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Attorney-General Elise Archer told Fairfax Media properties where bodies may be buried beneath churches would be deemed cemeteries when the amended act is proclaimed.
“All cemetery manager obligations and protections will then apply to such properties, enforced by the regulator,” Ms Archer added.
The Anglican Diocese of Tasmania hopes community groups will take on ownership and management of churches being sold with cemeteries attached.
“We will work through any issues associated with the properties as part of the sale process,” a spokesperson said.
“What we’ve been trying to do is a twin thing,” Bishop Condie says in response to concerns the sales are raising more than needed for redress: raise money for redress and “make sure the church is sustainable” into the future.— Matt Dennien (@mattdennien) December 2, 2018
Part of the sale proceeds will go to funding the Diocese’s obligations to the national redress scheme for survivors of child sexual abuse. Another portion will contribute to the sustainability of local parishes across the state.
Northern Midlands Mayor Mary Knowles said though St Thomas’ Church – listed on the Tasmanian Heritage Register – is not used often, its sale would be a “huge blow” to the Avoca community.
The church is now used for school services at Easter and Christmas, which the public are invited to attend, along with weddings and funerals.
Cr Knowles said for children in rural areas, those services are often their only connection to the church.
“If you take that away, how are they going to become involved?” she asked.
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