Churches built by the people could be sold off
MOVES by the Anglican Church to sell-off assets in the Orara Valley have been met with anger from residents who say the assets should stay in the hands of the communities who built them.
The Anglican Diocese of Grafton confirmed Glenreagh and Coramba churches would close following the approval of a restructure plan to “improve the viability and effectiveness of (the) Anglican ministry” by the Synod earlier this month.
The Synod of the Diocese of Grafton, is the main decision making body of the Anglican Church in the Mid-North Coast and Northern Rivers region.
Both churches are more than 100 years old and hold significant historic value to what were once bustling timber and mining towns.
In a statement released today, a spokesperson for the Diocese said the Church at Nana Glen would remain “open and active for people in the (Orara) Valley” which remained one of its smallest parishes.
“We recognise that there are some areas in the Diocese that are less well resourced and face greater challenges for truly viable and growing ministry,” the spokesperson said
“The Parish of the Orara Valley is recognised as one of those places.
“Congregations, within the Parish of Orara, are not of a size to justify retaining all three Valley churches.”
The move has been met with disdain from some residents in the Orara Valley, angry at the Church’s willingness to sell off assets – built and sustained by community fundraising – solely for the perceived benefit of its central administration.
Glenreagh parishioner George Bennett said the church was “in really good order” due to the work and funding from the parish, and if the Diocese believed it was not sustainable it should be handed back to the community.
He said they were in a healthy financial position to be able to continue operating without financial support from the Diocese – as they had always done.
“The community is pretty ropeable about this. The parish of the Orara Valley will fight this tooth and nail,” he said.
“If you go back in history, the block of land the church was built on was provided by locals, the building itself was (built through) fundraising by locals and maintenance has been provided by locals.
“It’s a pretty wrong situation.”
The Diocese says the closure and sale of the churches will happen within two years, though it is understood a decision on exactly when they will close is likely to be made in November.
It is not the first time the Diocese has sold a historic church in the Parish, with Upper Orara’s historic All Saints Church put on the market in 2012.
It has since been converted into a home.