Future of church may be up to locals

The future of St Michael's and All Angels Church building in Clyde will be discussed at a public...
The future of St Michael's and All Angels Church building in Clyde will be discussed at a public meeting next week. Photo: Adam Burns
The Anglican Bishop of Dunedin is putting it back on Clyde residents to find a viable option for an historic church building in the town.

A public meeting organised by Promote Dunstan will be held in Clyde for residents to discuss options for the church building.

The sale of the church was first mooted in 2015 alongside St Mary's Church, in Omakau, due to a diminishing number of congregants.

However, the Anglican Diocesan Council later decided to retain ownership of St Michael's and set up a trust to establish and run the site as a spiritual retreat. St Mary's was eventually sold.

The council had engaged a properties commission in December to explore potential options for the church.

However it appears the local community will have the first say on the matter.

The Rt Rev Dr Steven Benford said it was too early to speculate on the outlook for the church.

"The property commission has only recently been formed and has not formally met, so we don't know what they will be advising."

A sale of the church or part of the property that it is on, consultation with the community around potential ownership, or a private sale with an option of maintaining the "sacredness of the building and access from the wider community" were all options being explored, Dr Benford said.

The stone church in Matau St was built in 1877 and remains a category 2 Heritage New Zealand building.

Dr Benford said he understood the concerns of residents but the commission was open to input from the community.

"If the community is able to come up with a viable option to maintain St Michael's in its current form, the property commission would take this into consideration.

"We do understand that there are community concerns about losing access to buildings such as this, especially ones that hold great local significance and are treasured."

Central Otago Heritage Trust chairman David Ritchie said what the building was used for was not the business of the trust.

"As long as it is preserved and protected.

"As a local community person, it is a fantastic building which is open to the community at the moment. I would like to think it could have community use longer term."

The public meeting will be held at St Mungo's Church, Clyde, tomorrow.

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