A MONTH after being asked to come up with $200,000 to help save the Bathurst Anglican diocese, Orange’s Anglican parishioners are a long way from the target, and the Anglican diocese debt has increased by about $14 million.
That target fund could have doubled at the last church council meeting if Bishop Ian Palmer’s request for parishioners to pay more was granted.
The Bathurst Anglican diocese is being sued by the Commonwealth Bank over millions of dollars owed to it. Holy Trinity parishioners were asked to contribute $128,000, while St Barnabas Church’s contribution was set at $75,000 towards a fighting fund to defend the action in court.
However, it has been revealed that not only does the church owe money to the Commonwealth Bank, but it has internal “financial pressures” such as $100,000 to be set aside for professional standards issues such as the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse.
It needs $140,000 to support the bishop, which includes paying a personal assistant, and its legal fees are ever increasing.
The receivers are also calling on any creditors owed money by the church to lodge a claim before October 29 to be included in any court proceedings.
In a letter to parishioners Bishop Palmer explained how he asked for the parish contributions to double, but the September Synod, the church council, would not vote for the action.
“This is what we need. Of course synod representatives could not commit to this and neither could they agree to a budget that we knew would be possible,” Bishop Palmer said in the letter.
“The budget will come back to Bishop-in-Council. We must find a way forward to finance the ministry of the bishop’s registry .... the deputy chancellor told us, ‘If we don’t have a bishop we don’t have a diocese’.”
A parish newsletter showed the Holy Trinity parish had barely scraped together one quarter of the money asked of it while the St Barnabas parish had paid its share.
In July, receivers confirmed court proceedings had been brought against the former Anglican bishop of Bathurst, Richard Hurford, and Bishop Palmer following an investigation into the affairs of the Anglican Development Fund (ADF).
The receivers also confirmed they had started legal proceedings against certain members of the ADF board and other related parties.
The ADF acted primarily as a financial mediator and owes approximately $39.3 million to its creditors, however it is not clear how the debt increased from $25 million to nearly $40 million since the sale of the Orange and Macquarie Anglican grammar schools.
A 15-day hearing has been set for April 2015.
Bishop Palmer could not be contacted for comment.