By NICOLE KUTER
THE decision by the Anglican diocese of Bathurst synod to backflip on the sale of church property is a bitter sweet victory for parishioners.
At the recent diocesan synod parish representatives unanimously agreed to repeal the synod’s resolution of November12, 2011, known as the 10 point plan.
The plan included the potential sale of The Bluestone Hall in Anson Street and rectory buildings in Molong and Millthorpe. The plan was designed to alleviate the interest burden of about $40 million of debt.
Parishioner John Gibbs said he was relieved but sceptical of the synod’s decision. He said he can’t see the future for the Anglican diocese of Bathurst church.
“I know that the bishop alleges there’s not to be any properties sold,” he said.
“Where the diocesan goes from here I don’t know.”
However Bishop Richard Hurford said at no point was any church property listed with a real estate agent or a private seller.
“The responses from around the diocese had achieved the generation of funds to support $5 million of debt relief,” he said.
“As the target had been $8 million, the Independent Oversight Committee drawn from the national church nominated a number of properties currently leased by parishes for commercial purposes as potential properties that could be sold to assist with debt relief.”
Bishop Hurford said the synod decided that none of the properties would be listed for sale unless with the consent of the parish and the Diocesan Property Trust.
Mr Gibbs said he had lost faith in the decisions of the synod. He has become disillusioned with the church.
“The Independent Oversight Committee is not entirely independent at all,” he said.
“I don’t think we’ve made any progress.”
Bishop Hurford would not speculate on the future of the church’s finances. He said it wasn’t his place to predict the behaviour of the banks.
“However, the synod, noting the goodwill of the parishes last year in their voluntary contributions of cash and assets, will be asking them to consider the re-pledging of assets,” he said.
“With the proceeds to be put to debt reduction, as in its ongoing negotiations with the bank about its partnership in supporting two of its schools, the diocese is determined to do all that it reasonably can to contribute to that process.”
Parishioner Len Bailey said he was pleased the church had not gone ahead with the sale of property. He said the decision had restored a level of faith in the system.
“I guess in a way yes,” he said.
“I am pleased but I am still concerned about the future.”