Meander Valley Gazette

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Land sale plan a reprieve for Quamby Parish churches

FeatureJoanne Eisemann

January 2019 | Sharon Webb

THE PROPOSED sale of a church-owned block of land in Carrick has removed three Quamby Parish churches given to the people in perpetuity from the Anglican church and cemetery fire sale.

In December of 2018, Tasmania’s Anglican Bishop, Richard Condie, released a list of church properties to parishioners state-wide, indicating which are to be sold and which reprieved.

St Mary’s Church rectory and cemetery in Hagley, built with donations from the Dry family; St Andrew’s Church in Carrick, given by the Reibey family; and St Andrew’s Church in Westbury, built by the British Government with convict labour, now will not be sold – if the parish can raise $400,000 from the sale of vacant land on the corner of Meander Valley Rd and East St in Carrick.

In addition, Deloraine’s saleyards, church hall and cemetery, and Meander’s St Saviour’s Church appear to be saved from the chopping block.

But according to Reverend Josephine Pyecroft from Quamby Parish, a row is brewing over which real estate agent will sell the Carrick land.

“We had it valued by Harrison Humphreys; Rob Harrison is a descendent of the Reibey family who gave the church to the people. But the Anglican Hobart office wants to arrange the sale with their choice of estate agent.

“However the deeds say the land can’t be sold without the signatures of the priest and two wardens and we need to go to the Reibey family to sell it.

“We want Harrison Humphreys to sell it, then the money must come back to the parish. We will then donate the money to the Anglican’s Child Sexual Abuse National Redress fund.”

Rev Pyecroft said she was amazed at the decision to save the three churches and their cemeteries.

“I thought we might save Hagley because Sir Richard Dry, the first Tasmanian-born premier of this State, is buried beneath the altar there, but all three churches were off the list,” she said.

“In the lead-up to the decision I asked parishioners to pray every day for two minutes at 12 noon and I’m silly enough to think that had a lot to do with it.”

Quamby Parish has raised more than $50,000 to head off the churches’ sale; in addition, new State draft legislation decreeing cemeteries cannot be closed until 100 years after the last burial instead of the current 30 years has damped down Bishop Condie’s sale plan. St Mary’s Church is defined as a cemetery because Sir Richard is buried in it.

Rev. Pyecroft said she could identify with people distressed at the thought of the sale of land containing their relatives’ graves; her parents’ ashes are buried in her husband’s grave in St Mary’s cemetery.

“This has been the emotional and spiritual abuse this year,” she said.

“I haven’t heard of anyone against the sexual abuse redress scheme, but all the while this other abuse has been going on in the background. This is not the Anglican Church I know.”

Rev. Pyecroft was also able to shed light on the rationale for Bishop Condie’s churches and cemetery sale plan.

“The Bishop told us he had to raise $8m for the redress scheme and he proposed to sell 106 properties,” she said.

“Twenty-five per cent of the money raised was to go to the redress scheme and the rest to be used to start a new Tasmanian ministry, where congregations would meet in school halls and people’s houses.

“The former Sydney Archbishop Peter Jensen and his brother, Dean Phillip Jensen totally changed the face of the diocese to create an almost nonliturgical church run on Calvinist lines. And Bishop Condie has announced that he’s a Calvinist.”

Rev. Pyecroft, who has not been paid by the Anglican Church for the past 18 years, said clergy were not told what the new Tasmanian ministry would be like, just that the Quamby Parish would need to raise $216,000 for the redress scheme and $200,000 to indicate they could pay the salary of a new priest.

“More than $400,000 is an impossible task so we put in a submission to the Anglican Church Diocesan Council proposing to sell the Carrick land,” she said.

Two thirds of the Anglican properties listed for sale have not been rescued, including the Church of the Good Shepherd in Hadspen, the Fencing Paddock in Carrick, and vacant land in Elizabeth Town.

Photo | Mike Moores

St Andrews Church, in Westbury is one of four Meander Valley churches to escape closure and sale.

St Andrews Church, in Westbury is one of four Meander Valley churches to escape closure and sale.