ST BARNABAS’ Anglican Church which was gutted by fire three years ago will not be rebuilt, Bishop Ian Palmer has confirmed.
The church was gutted in the early hours of February 23, 2014 after an arsonist deliberately lit a fire in the historic building.
What followed was an outpouring of grief from the community at the loss, and anger at the man who lit the fire.
There were talks of rebuilding the church, but the Anglican Diocese of Bathurst’s legal issues surrounding an outstanding debt of $40 million to the Commonwealth Bank quickly put those talks on hold.
In the end, Anglican Diocese of Bathurst Bishop Palmer said the church simply could not be rebuilt.
“The church as it was will not be rebuilt, we just don't see that it could be rebuilt as it was,” Bishop Palmer said.
“Readers are familiar with some of the financial challenges we have faced across the diocese, we've had to face challenges of reshaping the diocese.”
However, Bishop Palmer said it was not just financial considerations that led to the decision not to rebuild St Barnabas’.
“It is no secret that congregations have diminished,” he said.
And, with Holy Trinity in Kelso and the All Saints’ Cathedral, Bishop Palmer said the decision was made that Bathurst has enough large Anglican places of worship.
“From a point of view of history it would be lovely to have it rebuilt, [but] the church has moved on from needing another place of that size,” he said.
“People meet more often in small groups than large groups.
“When people are doing something deep and meaningful they want to do this in small groups and we see that in all walks of life.”
Bishop Palmer said he was determined that St Barnabas’ become an open space for the entire community.
“We want to make it into an aesthetically pleasing place, a place of quiet beauty where people can reflect,” he said.
“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.
“We certainly want to honour that there are memories there.”