“The Anglican Diocese of Tasmania has included two local churches in a preliminary list of properties proposed for sale.
St Paul’s Church in Stanley and St Bartholomew’s Church in Forest are among the 108 properties proposed for sale by the Anglican Church in Tasmania to form a redress fund.
The fund will cover $8 million in liability payments to survivors of child sexual abuse in the church.
Reverend Richard Condie, Anglican Bishop of Tasmania, said the fund would be formed from congregation and church contributions as well as profits made from the sale of properties.
“The Anglican Church in Tasmania is fully committed to providing restorative justice, recognition and support to survivors of sexual abuse through redress,” Bishop Condie said.
“We care deeply for survivors of sexual abuse and our primary concern is to ensure we can meet our redress obligations.”
The list will be considered at the annual meeting of all parish representatives, the synod, in June.
A member of the Stanley congregation for more than two decades, Kath Medwin said the wider community would be deeply affected should St Paul’s close its doors.
The church-owned neighbouring Stanley Discovery Museum would also be affected by the proposed sale.
“We’re all very sad about it, naturally. We have a lot of people who go to the museum and [walk] through the church, they’re thrilled to sit in the quietness and stillness of the church.”
If sold, the small congregation would travel to Smithton each Sunday, says Mrs Medwin.
Established in 1904, St Bartholomew’s Church was closed two years ago.
“It’s been a beautiful church of the people with close friendships formed and a thriving Sunday school,” says Patsy Payne, a member of the congregation for more than 60 years.
“We were broken hearted,” she said of the closure, though would love to see new life in the church.
The full list of properties to be considered by the synod includes 108 properties, 76 of which are churches while the preliminary list released on Monday details 78 properties, 55 of which are churches.
“This list is not exhaustive and is not yet finalised. We are at the very beginning of the process,” Bishop Condie said.
“After synod there will be a period in which parishes can seek a review of the decision to sell a property, making a case for its exemption.
“Local communities are welcome to express their concerns about church property marked for sale . . . we want to provide concerned members of the community with an opportunity to work out how they can help preserve part of Tasmania’s heritage while allowing us to meet our redress obligations.”
Submissions for the review of properties for sale will be received until September 1 before the Diocesan Council makes its final decision in December.
“I understand that the sale of churches and cemeteries causes pain and sadness for church members as well as the wider local community,” Bishop Condie said.
“They have been an important part of our Tasmanian heritage however our commitment to justice, recognition and support of survivors through providing redress underlies the need for this sacrifice.””