Two articles - one in the Age and one in the Herald Sun spell out the results of the Uniting Church fire-sale of property. Lucky for some that were saved, but alas our tennis courts in East Geelong were sold, but for less than the $1 million that was expected. I felt that all our energetic protests over four weeks were a failure but as one guy said, we were part of the general protest that put pressure on the Uniting Church to be aware that the numerous faith communities named in their list were really disturbed by the process and many churches were saved in the end. But certainly not tennis courts which were the first to go on the 21 Properties auction day.
Nine properties were auctioned off to pay for Uniting Church debts. Source: SuppliedNINE Uniting Church properties were auctioned today to pay debt arising from the closure of Acacia College but 12 more were saved from the hammer by Melbourne's "buoyant'' property market.
Churches, tennis courts and land from around Victoria were all on the list of properties up for sale as the Uniting Church tried to repay the $32 million debt left from the college's failure.
There were 21 properties listed to be auctioned today but nine were enough to cover the Uniting Church's requirements.
The church stopped the auction after reaching total sales of $56 million, which includes nine properties sold today and others over the past three weeks.
Properties sold today include the church building, hall and vacant land at 6-8 Hemming St, Brighton East, for $3.25 million and the church building and hall at 489-491 Highett Rd, Highett, for $3.5 million.
Uniting Church Synod Victoria and Tasmania general secretary Rev Mark Lawrence said the "buoyant property market'' enabled the church to reach its target funds while minimising the impact on congregations.
"Today the auction began with vacant land, tennis courts and vacant churches, and placed the active worship centres further down the list," Dr Lawrence said.
"A number of other listed properties, which have yet to exchange contracts or be auctioned, will no longer be offered for sale," he said.
"The property sales process began three weeks ago. In that time a number of residential properties have been sold at auction, six properties have been sold as part of a portfolio sale and four others have been privately negotiated.
"Clearly, many people have been disrupted by this and some congregations and agencies will still have to move as a result of successful sales. I want to thank the people of the Uniting Church for walking together through these very hard few months."
Other properties sold today were:
* Five tennis courts, hall and 10 carparks at 14 Mullum Mullum Rd, Ringwood, for $1.89 million
* Two tennis courts at 20a Broughton Rd, Surrey Hills for $1.76 million
* Vacant land at 3 Victoria Rd, Sydenham, for $720,000
* Three tennis courts and a small sheltered canopy at 50-52 Blackburn Rd, Blackburn for $1.55 million
* Three tennis courts and small weatherboard clubhouse at 39 Denman St, Geelong East, for $850,000
* Church building at 188-198 Gatehouse St, Parkville, for $1.235 million
* Church building, two small halls and two carparks at 31 East Boundary Rd, Bentleigh East, for nearly $2.1 million
Properties that did not end up being auctioned include a church, hall and land at 15 Herald St, Cheltenham; church and hall at 15 The Crossway, Strathmore; church, hall and office at 103 Koonung Rd, Blackburn North; church, two units and a hall at 70-74 Melville Rd, Brunswick West; church and dwelling at 2a Laurel St and 19 Panton St, Bendigo; church, hall, shed and land at 14 and 18a Barkly St, Ballarat; church, hall and dwelling at 36 and 36a Pleasant St South, Ballarat; church, hall and carparking at 70 Wheatsheaf Rd, Glenroy; and church, hall and land at 64-68 Anderson St, Lilydale.
Joan Chambers, a member of Ballarat's Pleasant St church and an opponent of the Uniting Church auctions, is pictured in front of St Andrews Church, which was passed in for $2.5 million.
The Uniting Church stopped its controversial sale of 21 church buildings half-way through the auction on Wednesday after reaching its $56 million financial target, acknowledging the sale process had caused ‘‘significant’’ pain for its congregation.
Members of the church’s faithful mingled with 200 prospective buyers looking to snap up property at a ‘‘never to be repeated’’ fire sale of church buildings and land scattered across metropolitan Melbourne, Ballarat, Echuca and Bendigo.
The church resolved in May to sell about 1 per cent of its substantial property holdings to recover debts of about $36 million it lost after the collapse of its school, Acacia College, last year.
Twenty-one properties were to be auctioned on Wednesday.The assets up for sale included many historic churches, as well as vacant land, suburban tennis courts and commercial buildings.
One heritage church hall in Parkville sold for $1.25 million but another majestic cathedral-style church in Sturt Street, Ballarat failed to attract a single bid.
St Andrews Uniting Church in Ballarat, a large Victorian-era bluestone structure, passed in for $2.5 million dollars on a vendor bid.
The Church Synod, which has faced angry criticism from parishioners opposed to the sale of their places of worship, managed to settle on $16.4 million of property before pulling the plug on the auction leaving many would-be buyers disappointed, but its parishioners delighted.
‘‘I’m absolutely thrilled,’’ said Balwyn church member Graham Beanland after Colliers International auctioneer John Bowring told the congregation of buyers the remaining 10 properties had been withdrawn.
Among them were two other historic Ballarat churches and a large cathedral in Bendigo.
Last week the Church Synod was told by retired County Court judge Ross Howie the sale of the properties may be unlawful without the approval of congregations.
‘‘The decision to end the auction early does not remove the pain and uncertainty this divestment program has caused the people of the Uniting Church,’’ the Synod’s general secretary Mark Lawrence said.
‘‘There are still challenging times ahead as congregations prepare to leave their beloved places of worship,’’ he said.
The Church is believed to have sold up to 35 properties, including the nine that changed hands at Wednesday’s auction.
The divestiture will affect eight active church congregations, he said