“THE Anglican Church is not — and never has been — simply a care taker of buildings for community use.”
So declared the Bishop of Tasmania, the Dr Richard Condie, after public meetings were held to
oppose the diocese’s plans to sell more than 120 church properties (News, 27 April). Opposition has focused on the impact of their sale on local communities.
Some Tasmanians were suggesting that the diocese did not have “the legal or moral right to sell church buildings”, Dr Condie said in a pastoral letter. The “charitable purposes of the Anglican Church” of the trusts controlling the church buildings, however, were “essentially about our ministry of making disciples of Jesus”. The trusts, he said, were therefore “free to buy and sell property on our behalf”.
The diocesan synod has approved the sale of the properties, including churches in small rural communities, in part to fund the Diocese’s $A8-million redress payments to survivors of child sexual abuse. Final decisions about which properties will be sold will be made by the diocesan council in December; parishes and community groups can make submissions about specific properties listed for sale until 1 October.
Dr Condie said that he had “reached out” to the organisers of the public meetings opposing the sale of churches, and hoped that they would take up his offer for discussion.
He also refuted suggestions that he was “trying to force a particular style on to Tasmanian Anglican churches”, including “trying to stamp out traditional worship”. This was not true, he said.