January 30, 2024
South Burnett Regional Council has declined an offer from the Anglican Church to take over ownership of St Faith’s Church and its cemetery in Mondure.
However, the Council will tell the church it is willing to negotiate a potential sub-division to split the cemetery away from St Faith’s lot.
And if this can be done at no cost to ratepayers, Council would also be willing to negotiate with the Church to investigate taking over maintenance of the cemetery.
The decision follows an offer the Council received from the Anglican Church last September.
The church offered to gift St Faith’s to Council as part of an ongoing program of deconsecrating rural Anglican churches to consolidate their congregations in larger towns.
At last September’s Infrastructure standing committee meeting, several Councillors said they were reluctant to accept this offer because of the significant costs ratepayers would face to bring the 107-year-old church building up to modern standards.
These would include painting the building’s exterior, re-roofing, re-stumping, connecting water and building an amenities block.
They also noted that ratepayers would face ongoing costs to maintain the church’s cemetery, as well as having to set aside money each year for depreciation.
However, other Councillors said the church cemetery was likely to have special significance for families who had loved ones interred there.
They suggested the best approach would be to lay the matter on the table until the views of the Mondure community could be canvassed.
At Council’s General Meeting three months later, Councillors resolved to follow the original recommendation of Council officers to respectfully turn down the Anglican Church’s original offer.
But at the suggestion of Cr Kathy Duff, they amended this motion to add that Council would be willing negotiate to take over the maintenance of the cemetery if the Anglican Church could subdivide St Faith’s block to separate the church building from the graveyard.
This amended motion led to a split decision with Crs Duff, Kirstie Schumacher and Danita Potter voting in favour of the amended proposal and Crs Gavin Jones, Scott Henschen and Jane Erkens voting against it.
The amended motion was then carried on the casting vote of meeting chair Cr Jones.
The matter will now rest until the Anglican Church either informs Council of its long-term plans for the church and cemetery, or makes other arrangements that do not involve Council.
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