Anglican Church obtains $ 10 million for property belonging to Byron Bay Church sold in “desperation”

The Anglican Church has sold one of its properties in the heart of Byron Bay for more than $ 10 million amid the area’s overheating real estate market.

The Secret Garden wedding and reception venue on the city’s main street is one of dozens of church-owned properties across the country that are being sold to pay compensation through the National Victim Reparations Program historical abuse.

Among the real estate assets under the hammer are many small churches in rural communities.

The Tregeagle congregation near Lismore in northern NSW recently celebrated their last service after 122 years, and the little weather church will go on sale next year.

The news of the sale saddened 92-year-old parishioner Allen Davis.

Allen Davis, 92, with his son, grandson and great-granddaughters after last service at Tregeagle.(ABC North Coast: Bronwyn Herbert)

In the late 1890s, Mr. Davis’ grandfather donated the land on which the church stands and helped build the simple siding structure.

“It is very sad for us to see it sold,” he said.

On the Byron coast, St Oswald’s Church in Broken Bay, which is steeped in war history, is also for sale, angering local veterans.

Man standing near real estate for sale outside church
Rob Asquith is outraged by the sale of St Oswald’s Church, which was built on land donated by a WWI soldier.(ABC North Coast: Bronwyn Herbert)

“They were horrified to think that a memorial dedicated to three young soldiers who lost their lives in World War I would simply be sold and be gone forever,” said Rob Asquith of Byron Bay RSL.

The Diocese of Grafton, which stretches from Wauchope to the Queensland border, has not confirmed the extent of its reparation debt or the amount it hopes to recover by selling those assets.

The Church faces “desperate” times

The sale of the Secret Garden reception venue on Jonson Street in Byron Bay for $ 10 million will help the local diocese pay off its debt.

The Secret Garden is a Byron Bay property that the Diocese of Grafton sold for over $ 10 million.
The Byron Bay property that the Diocese of Grafton sold for over $ 10 million.(ABC North Coast: Emma Rennie)

Described as “one of Byron Bay’s most beautiful sites … a private oasis … on nearly half an acre with a lush subtropical garden teeming with majestic mature palm trees, incredible cactus gardens and peaceful country-inspired pockets. rainforest ‘, the venue was sure to attract buyers.

The Diocese of Grafton is due to move in with the new owners in January.

Anglican secular leader Dr Muriel Porter, who was a 30-year member of the General Synod, which is actually the national parliament of the Anglican Church in Australia, denies that the property sales are a ‘seizure of money’ .

“People seem to think the church has a lot of money. In fact, it doesn’t and each diocese is completely separate from the others,” Dr. Porter said.

Dr Porter said the Dioceses of Bathurst and North Queensland were also under significant financial pressure.

The sale of North Queensland to collect $ 6million debt

Bishop Keith Joseph rules the sprawling North Queensland Diocese from Townsville and has large areas of the outback to serve.

Close-up of bishop wearing glasses outdoors
The Bishop of North Queensland, Keith Joseph.(Provided)

He said it was up to an individual diocese to pay for claims for reparation for historic abuses in their diocesan area.

In his diocese, the church’s real estate was being sold to recover around $ 6 million, a figure he estimated to be the diocese’s total debt under the national remedies regime and other civil claims for historic abuse. .

“Most of the regional dioceses have a thin asset base and don’t have the cash on hand, so selling a property is the only thing left.”

North Coast Sales to Pay Child Home Abuse Claims

In a statement, the Diocese of Grafton said many of the historic abuse allegations it faced have been resolved, while others were still under investigation. However, he expected to face more claims in the future.

In a statement, the diocese said it is committed to meeting its responsibilities under the reparation program for those who have suffered abuse at the former children’s home on the North Coast.

three people entering a church, surrounded by green paddocks
Worshipers attended the final service at Tregeagle Anglican Church. (ABC North Coast: Bronwyn Herbert)

Jerry B. Hatch