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THE burnt-out shell of St Barnabas’ Anglican Church will become a place of quiet reflection under long-term diocese plans.
The church was gutted by a deliberately lit fire three years ago, and earlier this month Bishop Ian Palmer announced that the structure will not be rebuilt.
The announcement resulted in an outpouring of shock and grief from the community.
Bishop Palmer said, however, that the diocese plans to turn the site into an area of reflection for the community.
“We want to work out how we can open it as a site that people can visit,” he said.
“We want to make it into an aesthetically pleasing place, a place of quiet beauty where people can reflect.
“We’re conscious [that] it holds memories for people.
“We are looking at getting it back as a place which is accessible to people all the time, so that their memories and recollections are available all the time.”
Bishop Palmer said he hoped in time the area would look similar to what people may see in the UK where partially-collapsed churches have been turned into picturesque gardens of reflection.
We want to make it into an aesthetically pleasing place, a place of quiet beauty.Anglican Bishop Ian Palmer
Bathurst woman Jane Williams, who used to teach Sunday School at St Barnabas’ and her parents Nina and Carl Klemm are inturned in the church’s memorial rose garden, said she was happy with the plans.
“It’s disappointing that we’re loosing so much of our history in Bathurst, but I think it’ll be lovely, especially if it’s looked after,” she said.
“I think if that’s what they’ve got in mind [to create a place of reflection], my only concern would be if it’s open like that, would it be open to vandalism.”
Bishop Palmer said the integrity of existing structures on the church site will be assessed, and future plans will take into consideration that the area had “been a sacred place for people”.
“We have asked someone to give us advice on the safety of the place. Safety in the wall and the ground area,” he said.