Pastoral Letter – Final decision on sale of Churches – 2 December 2018
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I send you Advent greetings this morning in this season of hope and anticipation. We prepare ourselves for the coming of Jesus into our world, both in remembering His birth and as we eagerly await His return, confident in God’s sovereign purposes for our lives.
The past few months have been extremely challenging for our church community as we have continued to work through the Redress Proposal consultation process. I am keenly aware how difficult it has been for many of you at a local parish level and I am humbled by the sacrificial decision-making that has occurred in every Parish across our Diocese which will assist to fund redress.
Thank you for your continued ministry and love in the face of challenge, uncertainty, and for some, the realisation that you are facing permanent change. It’s your grace and generosity that underpinned the decision-making that was undertaken by our Diocesan Council yesterday.
The Redress Proposal, which was passed by our Synod in June, set out a process by which each parish with property proposed for sale, or accounts to be levied, was invited to lodge a submission making a case for the property, or account, to be exempt from sale or levy.
The Diocesan Council considered the appeals that were received and has made its final decision about the properties to be sold and accounts to be levied. We recognise that our church buildings are important places and hold significant value and I want to reassure you that we have listened to the desires and concerns of both parishes and the wider community. I believe the council has achieved the right balance between raising funds and taking parish and community input into account. I can assure you that the decision-making process has been applied consistently, with rigour and bathed in prayer.
Not all exemptions have been granted, but I hope we can corporately commend DC’s decision to remove 34 properties from the list for sale and to continue with the plan agreed by the Synod in June. Where churches with cemeteries are to be sold, it would be ideal for community groups to take on ownership and manage them for community use into the future.
Given the high level of community interest, I will be making a public announcement this afternoon in which I will be releasing the final list of properties for sale. The list and our media statement will be available on our website later today (www.anglicantas.org.au).
Our compassion for survivors of child sexual abuse in our organisation is the driver for the costly path the Anglican Church has embarked upon. This sacrifice expresses the church’s desire to provide a measure of restorative justice, recognition and support to survivors for the wrongs they have experienced by past leaders of the church. Taking collective responsibility for past wrongs is not only right but it is a profoundly Christian thing to do.
Earlier this year I expressed my hope that the Anglican Church in Tasmania, in response to Jesus’ calling (Luke 9:23-24), would respond with courage and thankfulness. I want to commend your discipleship and your willingness to “deny yourselves” to help meet our Redress obligations. I want to acknowledge your contribution and thank you for your efforts over the past months.
Please be assured of my continued prayers as we all respond to DC’s decision. I give thanks to God for each of you. We are His church in Tasmania and we can trust him completely with the future. In a secular world which is deeply in need of hope, I pray that this advent season we will continue to be a church for Tasmania, making disciples of Jesus.
Warm wishes in Christ,
The Rt Rend Dr Richard Condie
Bishop of Tasmania