The Proston Anglican Church was built using money left by Charles Shepherd when he died June 7, 1935.
The Proston Anglican Church was built using money left by Charles Shepherd when he died June 7, 1935.

Declining attendance numbers force church sale

ANGLICAN Proston residents now face an 80km round trip to their closest Anglican church service in Wondai or Murgon on Sundays.

The Shepherd Memorial Church of St Peter in Proston was de-consecrated in November 2015 and was put on the market for sale last year.

Anglican church attendee Selwyn Retschlag, who was married at St Peters, said the decline in church attendance numbers was sad.

"It is a fact of life that many people just do not attend church any more, but still expect the Church to carry out the functions of a church ministry,” he said.

"Here I refer to marriages, births, and the sombre need of a community with the death of a loved one at the time of burial.”

The church, which was first built in 1937, is a well-known piece of architecture throughout Australia.

"The church is also heritage listed which will impose strict rules on any buyer,” Mr Retschlag said.

The building of the church was partially funded by a Proston grazier who donated a sum of 40,000 pounds ($72,263) to have the church erected.

"In real terms and in today's money the donation was a substantial gift to the Church of England at that time,” he said.

Anglican Bishop of the western region Cameron Venables said there had been plenty of opportunity for the community to demonstrate a need for the church.

"The local Proston community has had plenty of opportunity, over several years, to demonstrate that the church was valued as a place of worship and faith,” he said.

The Anglican Church has a measured, inclusive and transparent process around the closure of their churches.

"That process, which included consultation with the local church attendees and the community, led to the decision to close and de-consecrate the church,” Bishop Venables said.

The closure of regional churches is not isolated to Proston.

"Most religious denominations have suffered declining church numbers over the past 20 to 30 years, especially in remote and regional areas,” he said.

"Rural communities in the South Burnett have suffered greatly from de-population due to the closure of businesses such as the Murgon abattoir and saw-mill, drought, dairy regulation, and labour saving changes in agricultural technology.”

The Anglican church has received a significant amount of interest in the sale of the Proston church, timber hall and associated land.

"We are still hopeful that we can find a buyer who wants to use the property to work with the local community, however we can't dictate how a buyer would use the property,” Bishop Venables said.

They are still very open to receiving a realistic offer.

"We have kept an open and honest dialogue with the local community around the potential sale and they have had the opportunity to come to us with a proposal to buy the property,” he said.

The church property is currently on sale for $120,000 negotiable.

For inspection times, contact Helene Wolski at LJ Hooker, Kingaroy.

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