The Western Advocate reports…
“A once devoted member of the Bathurst Anglican Diocese says he has lost faith in the church over its actions concerning a debt of about $25 million, and believes it must sell off its assets.
The church is more than just bricks and mortar, but former accountant John Gibb says with or without the buildings within the diocese, he will no longer be part of the Anglican church.
Mr Gibb said he did not agree with the church hierarchy’s decision to fight the Commonwealth Bank in court, over money owed to the bank, using funds bequeathed to the church in trust.
“If that money can be used to pay the lawyers then it should have been used to pay the bank,” he said.
“I’ve had a belly full.”
Mr Gibb put a caveat on the Bluestone Hall in Anson Street, Orange in 2012, after the then Bishop Richard Hurford announced it could be sold to help alleviate the debt.
The Bluestone Hall, which is rented out to an Orange business, is the biggest source of income for the Holy Trinity parish, he says.
But, other than the hall, the church should sell off buildings starting with the All Saints’ College in Bathurst, the former accountant said.
“You’ve got two Anglican churches, St Barnabas and Holy Trinity, within two kilometres of each other [in Orange] and you can’t fill even one of them,” he said.
When asked about the impact on mission work the sale of outlying churches and rectories might have, Mr Gibb said the church had struggled financially to the point where the welfare services were nothing like they used to be.
Bishop Ian Palmer, who inherited the debt in 2012 when he took on the job from Bishop Hurford, said he believed the church should fight the demand from the Commonwealth Bank to sell its assets immediately.
“I am very sorry the church’s actions have caused him to lose faith. Other people I know and love dearly have lost faith because of the actions of the church,” Bishop Palmer said.
“Just because you’ve lost faith, doesn’t mean I have lost faith in you.
“That is one reason why I have been up front about it. I would much rather be open with people.”
He called on anyone who had concerns over the impending court action to come along to the meeting at St Barnabas Church, Orange at 10am today.”