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Byron Shire
November 30, 2021

Broken Head Community rallies to save church from sale

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The Grafton Anglican Diocese say they need to sell local churches, in part, because they need to ‘meet the costs arising from historical claims of abuse’. Photo Jeff Dawson

The decision by the Anglican Church to sell St Oswalds Memorial Church in Broken Head has sparked widespread community concern, given that the 99-year-old church was gifted by residents as a dedicated memorial to three local men killed in WWI.

A meeting on Sunday was attended by descendants of the family of Arthur Beaumont Goard, a Broken Head dairy farmer, who was killed in action at the age of 28.

Memorial gifted to community in 1922

Mr Goard left a will that gifted one acre of land and 50 pounds for the establishment of the church.

The church memorial recognises Mr Goard and two other local men killed in action: Frederick Walter Flick and Frank Kimpton. St Oswald is the patron saint of soldiers. 

The Byron Bay RSL Sub-Branch have expressed concern and disappointment at the sale, and called for the recognised memorial to be ‘preserved in memory of their sacrifice’.

President Vi Hill says, ‘The Byron Bay RSL Sub-branch members are appalled that the sacrifice that these WWI men and the donation to the Broken Head Community in their memory could be sold off to raise funds foʳ such deplorable acts by their members not associated with this church.

‘The Byron Bay RSL Sub-branch members would like the church and land donated to the Broken Head Community to be managed by a local committee and remain as a memorial to these WWI Veterans who made the supreme sacrifice for their country.

Members from Sunday’s meeting also requested that the church ‘consider the ethics and morality of selling a property that was gifted to the community and stands as a memorial to local soldiers who lost their lives and has been maintained and sustained by the local community’.

Yet so far, those pleas have been ignored by the Anglican Diocese of Grafton.

An Anglican Diocese spokesperson told The Echo, ‘The Church was closed in June as part of a major restructuring program for the Diocese, which covers an area extending from the Qld Border south to Wauchope’.

‘The program involves the proposed closure and sale of a number of small churches and the amalgamation of the remaining churches into parishes or ministry areas based on larger more viable districts.

‘The first step in the restructuring program occurred last year with the amalgamation of three parishes to form the Parish of Byron and subsequently the Parish of Nambucca Valley has been formed by amalgamating two local parishes. In the Northern Rivers area, this has seen the closure and sale of a small church at Eureka and a church at Nimbin.

‘Low attendance’ at the church also contributed to the decision to sell, they said.

‘Any funds released as part of the restructuring plan will be deployed to assist with the continuation of Church’s ministry in the area, funding new initiatives relevant to a changing community, and to allow the Church to meet the costs arising from historical claims of abuse’.

‘We do recognise for some people, whose families have been faithful supporters and worshippers at these small country churches over many decades, this is a painful time’.

Byron Bay RSL Sub-Branch Vi Hill president added, ‘St Oswald’s Church, Broken Head, represents the resting place in Australia of three young men who died on the other side of the world. The land, building, internal furnishings are relics of their efforts. It is just not proper to turn away from their sacrifice and sell off this recognized memorial church, which will then be lost forever.

‘Byron Shire Council describes the land and church in their local plan as being a significant historical site in the shire.

‘In a recent Byron Bay Parish News Letter a Property update was given and states, Parishioners will be aware of recent sales or proposed sales of properties in the Parish, namely the Rectory in Mullumbimby which has been sold, St Aidan’s ay Eureka which has been sold, St Oswald’s at Broken Head yet to be sold and the land at 119 to 121 Jonson St Byron Bay yet to be sold.

The Diocese of Grafton has made an assessment regarding the large amount needed to meet historical abuse claims for the foreseeable future and the available resources across the Diocese to meet those claims’.


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16 COMMENTS

  1. So the descendants and residents of the Broken Head area have to pay for the criminal acts of unrestrained clergymen over the past decades.
    There’s not a shred of moral justification for The Diocese of Grafton.
    Talk about ungodly!

  2. The Church needs to be able to manage its assets, just like any other organisation. Sympathetic, adaptive reuse is actually likely to be a community benefit, not a harm.

  3. The good news is that the churches are, most deservedly, going broke. They are now having to pay for their perfidy in an era when they are becoming increasingly irrelevant.

    The memorial should stay, and the church should find other means of raising necessary funds. Perhaps they could sell Sydney’s St Andrew’s cathedral; that should pay just reparations for one or three child rapes.

  4. Best wishes to the community in their efforts to save the Broken Head church. It can be done, as it was in Federal a few years ago thanks to enormous fundraising efforts by local community members, artists, friends & donors near & far. A credit to all involved & happy outcome for both residents & visitors to the hinterland.

  5. Any land that has been gifted for a reason in the past,and for future gifts, should be left forever. It seems that Lest we forget’ for fallen soldiers has been well and truly forgotten by the so-called Christian church authorities.

  6. The Anglicans are displaying their narcissism and disregard for their Parishioners. Programs Vs People. Accountants Vs Sentiment. Cost of abuse paid by the local community. No ethic or humility in there. How much are they selling for?

  7. Such a contradiction for the church to want to sell it. Vile idea, more than venial. Yes let them sell St Andrew’s Cathedral and the posh residences of the Archbishop & various bishops – they & their business advisers could go on the waiting list for public housing. Remember the one re about passing through the eye of a needle. . . .

  8. It would make a great Women’s Space, so good for art, craft, dancing, machine shop, learning etc etc interesting activities, and ask local Tribe Aboriginal Elders to be involved and to have a smoking ceremony to drive out the sad memories associated with this church, including nearby massacre sites, and the rest of tbe Christian church’s calumny towards Aboriginal people both here in the Northern Rivers, and in every place in Australia.

    • Jesus warns ‘Beware of those who come in My name, ( Christ or Christian) do not be decieved by them ”
      This is who He warned us about but people follow them like dumb sheep even when they know they are doing the opposite of Jesus

  9. It would make a great Women’s Space, so good for art, craft, dancing, machine shop, learning etc etc interesting activities, and ask local Tribe Aboriginal Elders to be involved and to have a smoking ceremony to drive out the sad memories associated with this church, including nearby massacre sites, and the rest of tbe Christian church’s calumny towards Aboriginal people both here in the Northern Rivers, and in every place in Australia.

  10. His death created a community place in his home town
    Updated: Jun 29

    Recently at Broken Head, near Byron Bay on the north-east coast of NSW, the little wooden church of St
    Oswalds held its final service. It was a sombre experience. No less for the fact the church had been
    established starting with a bequest from Arthur Beaumont Goard, a soldier killed in World War One.
    The bequest from his will of 50 pounds was the start of a community e!ort to build the small church. It
    was eventually dedicated in 1922 to Goard and two other soldiers who lost their lives in the same war:
    Jacob Frederick Flick and Frank Kimpton.

  11. Churches have done this since forever. The Catholic Church did the same thing in the early 2000’s when they had to pay $3m in reparations in a class action, they removed $3m in funding to their social response sector. Those worst off are always the first to suffer.

  12. This beautiful Ol church was GIFTED by the local community, who at the time were attempting to honour 3 dead WWI soldiers. It was NOT funded or further financed by the church in any way /shape or form ? This is disgusting & IF the church faced those claims made by sexually abused individuals , they WOULD NOT BE IN THIS “APPARENT” predicament. The church no matter what it’s colour or philosophy , should keep their dirty mitts off this community funded heritage site. Have they NO morality or ethics ? is their preaching about morality & ethics just empty words? There are many more uses for this building , so give the local community the opportunity to do this. The memories of these 3 young soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice (their life) should be honoured & their families given the right to decide what the future for this church should be. The Anglican bureaucrats do not own this Ol ‘girl’ this was a generous donation, so hopefully the Broken Head locals will chain themselves to the church door in protest.

  13. Judas sold out Jesus . The soldiers then cast lots for his clothes .

    This church was built for the community from sacrifice with love .

    There are always other options . Dont destroy our Lords name any further .

  14. To the Anglican Church.
    As the community of Broken Head have funded, built and cared for this old Church, the Anglican leaders should take heed of the wishes of the community before they consider any financial gain.

    To not respect the wishes of the community, exposes a deep moral flaw in the Anglican leader’s thinking.

    If the Anglicans relinquish their , morality what do they have left? What is the church and what does it stand for? Has it just become another business entity lacking principle?

    You should ponder this as you sit in your empty churches.

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