CAMDEN

Land prayers answered

Sale of 1.3ha of St John’s church site opens up potential for $6m worship centre

Picture

St John's Anglican Church (main picture) will remain open for weddings and special services as part of the plans for the site; (inset) one of the earliest photos of the church from the 1860s and (below right) the parcel of land which will be sold. Pictures: Robert Pozo and Camden Historical Society

Picture

A NEW $6 million worship centre could soon be built in Camden, after the Sydney Anglican Diocese approved the sale of 1.3ha of the St John’s Anglican Church site and its rectory.

St John’s minister Tony Galea said he was happy with the outcome and it would allow the congregation to better serve the community.

“I am pleased with the result because it’s what I believe God wants us to do,” he said. “We will be able to use the resources we aren’t using and turn them into a resource the community can all benefit from.”

The new worship centre will host more than 300 people, alleviating the tight squeeze of community members attending services in the 168-year-old church.

Camden Residents Action Group president Glenda Davies said the group was appalled by the decision to sell the land.

“We are very disappointed in the decision. We consider it a betrayal of the Macarthur family Trust,” she said.

“The people of Camden feel the church is their own, despite the legal status.”

Rev Galea said a sale of the parcel of land was not imminent and “there is no buyer on our doorstep”. “If we are approached by a buyer, we will place the decision in front of the entire congregation,” he said.

A Sydney Anglican Diocese spokesman said all points of view were considered at the meeting last week to discuss the sale.

“The matter was brought to us after an overwhelming vote in favour from the parish,” he said.

“The Standing Committee took into consideration the fact that the land, originally used as a horse paddock, is vacant and does not impinge on the heritage precinct in which the church stands.”

Some residents have expressed fears for the future of the historic site if the land is sold. Rev Galea said he understood the frustration.

“I understand people’s passion and opinions, but sometimes a leader needs to make these decisions,” Rev Galea said.

“The last thing I wanted to do is upset the community.

“We would like to leave a legacy to the future of Macarthur, like the Macarthur family did all those years ago in leaving us the land.”

There are no plans for the St John’s Anglican Church, built in 1849, to be sold.

‘‘ I am pleased with the result because it’s what I believe God wants us to do
St John’s minister, Rev Tony Galea