Long-time St John’s Anglican Church parishioner John Ryan has called for community calm following vocal opposition to the church’s investigation into selling part of its land.
The Narellan Vale resident is disappointed by the “widespread panic” at the church’s decision and feels many people are making judgements without seeing the full picture.
“The church is not selling the land,” he said.
“All we’re doing is investigating the possibility of selling the land.
“Part of that process is seeking permission from the Diocese to even consider a sale.
“This is a very long-term plan, nothing is happening right now.”
St John’s staff recently received permission from the Sydney Anglican Diocese to sell the vacant land – often used as a car park – along Menangle Road, connecting the historic church building to the rectory.
Mr Ryan, well-known as a former Liberal politician, said the only reason the church was even looking into a potential sale was to fund their planned, much-needed second worship centre.
Mr Ryan said the two morning services and one evening service on Sundays were always full to capacity and potential churchgoers were leaving because they could not find a seat.
He said suggestions additional services could be held on Sundays were impractical.
“The church is full all day,” Mr Ryan said.
“We’re not a church that has a half an hour service and then everyone leaves.
“People hang around and have a chat and a cup of tea after the service – it’s an important tradition of our church.”
He wanted to assure Camden residents that the congregation had “no intention to trash the church”.
“We value this church more than anyone, we use it every day,” he said.
He said there was no guarantee that all of the land and rectory would be sold if a sale was decided upon as the best method to raise funds for the additional worship centre’s construction.
He suggested part of the land might be all that was required.
“Part of the Diocese’s ordinance decision was that the land could not be sold for less than $6 million,” he said.
“We’ve had a quote for the worship centre at $4 million, which doesn’t include fitting it out or constructing an additional car park.”
Mr Ryan understood there were vocal opponents to any consideration of a sale but said the “majority of the congregation is in support of the parish council”.