Dec 11, 2023 | Latest News

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Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester is pleading with the Uniting Church ‘to do the decent thing’ and support the Buchan community’s effort to retain a disused church building for local use.

The community has offered to buy the St Andrews Church in the middle of Buchan but has not been able to secure a deal from church leaders.

“The uncertainty surrounding the decision to sell the church is very frustrating for local residents who have formed a community trust and demonstrated a willingness to maintain and improve the facilities for the benefit of the Buchan district,” Mr Chester said.

“I have been contacted by several residents who have expressed grave concerns that the church, which has been at the heart of the local community for many years, will be lost to private investment.

“The St Andrews Church has an interesting history. It was bequeathed by local woman, Jane Davidson upon her death in 1952. 

“Jane was a pioneering woman of the district and has a mural dedicated to her in the town of Buchan.  St Andrews was built and dedicated to Jane’s late father, Andrew Davidson and since then, the community has maintained the building at its own cost including local government rates and maintenance.

“Selling the church to the highest bidder, against the community’s wishes, should not be an option.”

Mr Chester said he had written formally to church authorities and understood there had been some conversations with local residents but the community had run out of patience.

“The community has formed the Jane Davidson Community Trust and is keen to ensure that the building is retained as a community asset at a reasonable price,” Mr Chester said.

“The residents want some certainty and want access to the building to upgrade before it’s allowed to be damaged by neglect.

“The church leaders need to do the decent thing and support this effort from a community which has endured tough times in recent years and would highly value the building.”

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