There have been a few enquiries in regards to the closure of St John’s Church, Franklin. In response to an article published in the Huon News recently, I have issued a Media Release which can be viewed below.
I write in reply to the front page article on 18 June about the closing of St John’s Church Franklin.
Local Anglican Churches, and their buildings, can only be sustained if there is a vital local congregation. The Church at Franklin has been maintained for over 150 years by active members of the Anglican Church, who have put countless hours and dollars into this building and to providing Ministers and mission for the community.
Yes, the local Parish of the Huon is currently discussing the future of this Church building. The reason for this is that for many years the number of church-going Anglicans has declined, to the point where regular services have not been held there in recent years. There simply have not been enough people supporting the life and health of this Church, in spite of the wonderful efforts of the current small group of faithful members.
The St John’s Church building has a number of workplace, health and safety issues that need to be addressed to comply with government legislation. There would need to be considerable funds spent in order to maintain it as a public Church building. The Church does not have these funds, either locally or centrally. We have around 350 buildings across Tasmania, and their maintenance depends on having a healthy vibrant local church to do that.
As a result, the Parish of the Huon have made the sad and difficult decision to recommend the deconsecration and closure of this church building.
It is not true that prospective purchasers have already been shown over the building. If the Church decides to dispose of this building, there will be the opportunity for a community group to put in an expression of interest to purchase and take over the running of the building. Or, an individual might find another use (as has previously occurred with the adjoining hall).
Nor is it true that the graveyard might be dug up by excavators. Any graveyard in Tasmania is governed by strict State Government Legislation regarding its use. Whether the owner of the graveyard was the Anglican Church or someone else, the graveyard would be maintained under the same government laws.
As I have said, we are sad that this season of Anglican ministry in St John’s Franklin is finishing. We know that current and future church members will be able to create new and vibrant church ministries in this region, such as: St James Village, Huonville that provides affordable housing; a free pick up service of donations and supplying wood during winter to those in need; the connection with youth from the Huonville High School; and the provision of affordable meals for the disadvantaged.
All these services deliver in a practical way, hope and support for those currently in need and those that have been disadvantaged.
Our hope and prayer is for a healthy church transforming life in the Parish of the Huon.
Anglican Bishop of Tasmania
Contact: The Rev’d Stephen Carnaby, Bishop’s Media Officer, 0417 343 710