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Byron Shire
March 4, 2021

Race to save church

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Local communities are already under threat from ageing populations and coastal urban development. We are losing our villages and the heart of our community.

Now at least a dozen village churches are up for sale by the Anglican Diocese of Grafton to alleviate Grafton’s debts. In Federal – and now Burringbar – the local community is making a desperate effort to preserve their way of life and their precious community heritage by mobilising the community to raise the money to buy back these assets.

Burringbar is 30 minutes north and inland from Byron Bay while Federal village is inland and south of Byron. The Federal community have been tireless in their efforts to raise the money to buy back their church. There has been a deal of community rage concerning these selloffs. Both Federal and Burringbar churches were built on donated land with donated materials by community members of the time. Both churches are more than 100 years old.

In Burringbar the land plus a sum of money was donated by Sir Thomas Ewing, the first federal member for Richmond, in 1910 to build St Michaels and All Angels. Ironically, at the time, he also donated half the money needed to set up the Diocese of Grafton! All materials and labour were donated by the community. St Michaels Burringbar is still used for services and the Op Shop has been maintaining the church buildings and contributing proceeds to the Parish of Kingscliff for the last 20 years!

The Diocese is adamant St Michaels, like the Federal church, is to be sold to alleviate Grafton Diocese debt, so there is a race against time now to keep these historic buildings for community use. To continue the push to localisation we need to work to preserve and retain our villages and way of life.

Joan Lake
Burringbar


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