Trust solution way to stave off church sale

By Abi Thomas


Whangarei Heads residents are fighting to hold on to their historic church.

They're worried the Presbyterian church at McLeod Bay could become someone's bach or a private building and taken away from locals who worship there.

A community meeting tonight at the McLeod Bay Hall will look at forming a trust to take ownership of the church.

Whangarei Heads resident Robin Lieffering said the community was made aware two weeks ago of the threat of the sale: "The community is incensed that anyone should think they could sell off our church. It's a pioneer church, maintained by the community.

"There's the possibility that someone could turn it into a bach, or a gallery," Mrs Lieffering said.

St James Parish in Onerahi has administration rights over the church, and previously some members of its congregation worshipped there.

The Whangarei Heads church is owned by the Presbyterian Church Property Trustees.

Mrs Lieffering said theirs was a well-used, well-loved community church, and any sale would be a loss to the community.

It was used by Anglican, Catholic and Uniting congregations - what Mrs Lieffering called a good example of Christian co-operation.

She said the building and land were donated by early settlers to Whangarei Heads, some of whose descendants still lived in the area. The church was used for everything from weddings to community events. The exterior couldn't be altered because the building was registered with the Historic Places Trust.

The Rev Barry Tetley of St James in Onerahi said discussion had been initiated with the Whangarei Heads congregations about the possibility of their buying the church.

Tonight's community meeting is at the McLeod Bay Hall on Stuart Rd. It starts at 7.30pm.

- Northern Advocate

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