Why do we want our church returned to the South Arm community?
In May 2018, the Anglican Church of Tasmania proposed a list of over 100 properties, including more than 70 churches, around Tasmania that were to be sold to part-fund their contribution to the National Redress Scheme. This list and scheme was confirmed by Synod in June.
St Barnabas Church and Cemetery at South Arm in Southern Tasmania was on that list. Most of the churches are small, regional and rural churches with their own long history, heritage and stories. Like many of those churches, the land on which St Barnabas sits was gifted by one of the area's original settlers and the church built with the labour, love and funds raised from the local community. It was dedicated in 1892 and consecrated without debt in 1893.
In April 1987, again after much fund-raising and built by local volunteer labour alone, the Gellibrand Fellowship Hall was consecrated without debt and used for Sunday School.
Understandably, when the announcement was made that the Anglican Church was intent on selling our community church, along with the final resting place for so many of our family and friends, there was an immediate response of anger, outrage and determination to fight to keep St Barnabas as a community owned asset.
A working group of people from various backgrounds and with both religious and non-religious views, united to carry out the wishes clearly shown after two public meetings (attended by around 180 people) and feedback survey forms from 140+ people. The community spoke:
"St Barnabas Church and Cemetery must be community owned and managed and maintained as a place of worship."
There was also a great deal of angst about what happens to the cemetery where family and community members are still being laid to rest.
"They must be resting in peace in perpetuity."
Our community acknowledges the need for redress scheme but has issue with a process that sees so many small communities fighting to save their history and heritage, a cultural and spiritual centre and close connection with loved ones, for just a 25% contribution to the redress scheme.