In a sign of shifting demographics, St Anselms Anglican Church at Ocean Shores will close its doors for the last time this Sunday in a deconsecration service set for 2pm.
St Anselms is one of three churches under the umbrella of the Mullumbimby parish, leaving parishioners the option of worshiping at St Martins in Mullumbimby or St Thomas in Brunswick Heads.
Parish manager Anne Wareing said the decision to close the church (which would be put on the market) was a sad one for the parish, but one that had to be made.
‘Lots of people put a lot of effort into raising funds for St Anselms – they’d be down at the Brunswick Market every weekend with their cake stalls – so it’s a fairly sad thing to have to close it,’ she said.
Mrs Wareing said it was a parish decision rather than a diocesan one which was based on ‘prudent management of resources’.
‘It’s not just financial resources it’s people resources as well, it’s about how far we can spread ourselves,’ she said.
‘We’ll have a special service this Sunday that our priest Rachel Reinhart has put together and there will be a chance for people to remember the good things at Ocean Shores. We’ve had a few fun occasions out there with dinners and concerts and such like, not to mention its share of weddings, baptisms and funerals.’
Mrs Wareing said the consolidation to two centres was simply a sensible option.
‘In this day and age where everybody has a car and people will drive a long way to get to their favourite shopping centre, they’re going to do the same for their churches as well,’ she said.
The relatively new building was open in 1995 as a family centre, but picked up a Saint’s name and its church credentials soon after.
‘It was to be used as a multi-purpose facility and meant to be used for different kinds of services – it was never meant to be used exclusively as a formal church, the aim was to look to broader needs,’ she said.
‘We’ve had a mixture of different services out there, prayer-book services, café church, kids church and kids club. Café church is where people gather in groups around a table with a coffee, and it was more like a discussion … more interactive.
‘It was the kind of thing we were aiming for but our numbers just dwindled out there and we decided that we would have to look at the viability of our parish as a whole, and that it was better to concentrate our efforts rather than spreading them so far.
‘The building will be sold. It’s on two blocks of land so hopefully we’ll be able to sell it reasonably quickly.
‘We’ll be able to use the money within our own parish, some of the money of course will go to the diocese, as part of its running costs, but hopefully the sale will produce enough so that we’ll be able to make good use of it within our parish.’