Tuesday, November 12, 2013

St Stephens in Williamstown safe

from w
But unfortunately our tennis courts are not. The guys that came down from Synod office Melbourne seemed to be sympathetic to our argument that our Denman Street tennis courts are part of sports ministry, but perhaps they were just going through the motions. Location, not vocation. In a nice residential street. Money.  Anyway I am happy that the Williamstown church St Stephens is saved from the 'fire-sale' of the Uniting Church.

St Stephens parishioners win church sale fight 

EXCLUSIVE: St Stephens Uniting Church at Williamstown North will not be sold, with the parish’s victory against church leaders sparking a statewide revolt against the synod’s decision to sell 56 properties.

On Monday night, the parish held a meeting, steadying itself for battle and the message was clear: This church is not for sale.

A packed nave unanimously passed a resolution to “wholeheartedly support” Supreme Court action against 20 members of the Uniting Church synod who were trying to sell the 130-year-old church and adjacent hall to recoup a $56million debt incurred by the collapse of Acacia College at Mernda.

John Beckman, whose martial arts class is among 23 community groups that use the hall, vowed it would be a David and Goliath battle with a difference.

“There’s a bit of deja vu because I think they’re getting their 30 pieces of silver for this,” he told the meeting. “This is like a real David and Goliath. The only difference is, us being David, Goliath has no idea how big a stone we’re gonna hurl at him.”

When told by the Weekly that church leaders yesterday had agreed not to sell the church and hall, he said: “I tell you what – David doesn’t have to fling the rock at them, hey.”

Church elder and Save St Stephens convener Iris Whitehurst said the synod had decided that St Stephens could retain most of the property, including two tennis courts, with the exception of the manse at 177 Melbourne Road.

Reverend Doctor Ken Dempsey, who does not live in the manse so will not be affected by its sale, said their masters had tried to sell the property from under them to pay a debt “generated through negligence and incompetence”.

Retired County Court judge Ross Howie, who had initiated legal action to stop the sale, said there were other ways the synod could recoup its debt over time without causing the “great anguish and sense of betrayal” to Victoria’s parishes.

Synod general secretary Mark Lawrence said aside from St Stephens, “there were no other changes to the synod’s divestment list”. 


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