Tasmanian Anglican Church gives green light to asset sale as its ‘top-down’ approach criticised
The Synod voted overwhelmingly in favour of the asset sale ordinance. (ABC News: Henry Zwartz)
The Anglican Synod passes the full list of 108 properties, including 76 churches, earmarked for sale to fund $8.6 million in redress to survivors of sexual abuse.
Representatives from all 48 parishes across the state gathered at the Tailrace Centre to finalise the properties to be listed for sale.
The vote was made to loud applause with some attendants in tears.
“This is a very important step and a very good day for survivors of sexual abuse in Tasmania,” said church leader Bishop Richard Condie.
An appeal process will now come into play with the decision to be finalised in December.
Outside, one angry parishioner was placing an open letter rejecting the church’s plan on every car parked outside.
The church to date has earmarked 108 properties to sell off to help fund $8.6 million in redress payments for survivors of child sexual abuse.
And while parishioner and Tamar councillor Peter Kearney said he supported the church raising money for the cause, he rejected the church’s “non-consultative” plan.
“It is a plan that is to be ‘done’ to us,” reads the letter he placed under the windscreen wiper of every vehicle.
Mr Kearney said the process had alienated regular parishioners with its “top-down” approach.
“We’re disillusioned. The Synod is not a truly representative process,” he said outside the Tailrace Centre where the Synod is meeting.
“There hasn’t been genuine consultation with parishioners.”
Mr Kearney was caustic of the Anglican Church leadership.
There has been no genuine consultation with parishioners, says Councillor Peter Kearney. (ABC News: Henry Zwartz)
“The process is entirely conflicted. We need a genuine response from parishioners around the state and the Synod does not achieve that,” he said.
“These are properties that communities across Tasmania have put their heart, soul and money into. The rushed process is wrong and is alienating people.
“This is a top-down process and it’s going to do lasting damage to our church.”
Mr Kearney said his opinion was shared by many parishioners in his area.
His local church, the Holy Trinity church in Beaconsfield, has been nominated to be sold under the redress process.
‘We need to act quickly and decisively’
About 150 selected parish representatives from across the state — a mix of clergy and lay people — will determine the final list of properties to be sold.
A quarter of the proceeds from property sales will go towards the redress, while the Anglican Church will quarantine the rest to go back into parishes that lose churches.
The plan to sell church property was announced by Tasmania’s Anglican Bishop Richard Condie earlier this year and ignited concern and controversy among believers.
The Church said the $8.6 million figure was based on the expectation that there would be up to 200 survivors of abuse receiving an average of $78,000.
Speaking before the debate, Anglican Church General Manager James Oakley called for calm among the Anglican community.
“The decision we need is a simple decision: what process do we adopt to fund redress? We need to act quickly and decisively,” he said.
“We need to share the load of funding redress and we don’t want to see areas of devastation.
“The decision we need to make needs to be based on reason and evidence.”
The list contains eight out of the nine Anglican churches in the Southern Midlands municipality, including St Mary’s Anglican church in Kempton.
Last week more than 100 churchgoers and residents of Kempton gathered at a meeting in the town, worried over the future of cemeteries affected by the sale.