Fact Check

Opposing the sale means you are oppose the expansion of St John's

In a letter in the Camden-Narellan Advertiser August 14, 2019, Joshua Stashko seems to equate opposition to the sale with resistance to the expansion of St John's. These issues are not connected. There was no community outcry when Camden Council granted development consent for their expansion plans in 2012.

You are not a Christian if you oppose the sale of the precinct

In a sermon on July 14, 2019, Tony Galea (recordings usually are available from the St John's office) questions the faith of people opposing the sale of the land. He labels them 'supposed Christians' for opposing. The local Church needs to understand the opposition is to a real estate deal. See the article by Jeff McGill in the Camden-Narellan Advertiser August 07, 2019

A modern church needs a crying room

The appropriateness of a crying room for a Church is controversial. They certainly make it easy for the speaker and congregation. However, some see crying rooms as a misogynistic, antiquated 'penalty box'. See Want your parish to close? Set up a ‘crying room’, 12 reasons to welcome kids in church + tips for actually doing it and Fewer Churches Opting for Cry Rooms

The picture of the home page of this site is dishonest

The Precinct is part of the Camden Town Centre Conservation Area and is zoned B2 - Local Centre. These elements allow two-story buildings with shop top housing. Ignoring the heritage constraints, the picture on the home page accurately portrays the bulk and scale of permitted buildings.

John Macarthur was given the St John's land

The Camden Estate of John Macarthur contained many lots. The lot containing the site of the Camden township was part of 5,400 acres purchased on 5 October 1825. It was not a free grant. Click here for a summary of the land acquisitions associated with the Camden Estate. Click here to see the details of the original grant document.

Moran is a reputable company

In the Q&A sessions just prior to the vote, the Rev Tony Galea stated the Moran Group is a reputable company. At the time, Moran Aged Care facility at Engadine was subject to Federal Department of Health sanctions (See Department of Health places sanctions on Moran Engadine) and Department of Health sanction details. The department identified an "immediate and severe risk to the health, safety and well-being of care recipients".

St John's will not be sold.

The Anglican Church will retain the majority of the St John's lot, but about 300 square metres will be sold. The St John's Church Wardens are proposing a sub-division to break the historic land bridge between St John's and its Rectory and reduce the legal curtilage of the Rectory by about 2000 square metres. Here is a link to the current lot boundaries, here is a link to the proposed subdivision, here is a link to a composite image.

The only form of development that has a chance is fairly low density supported by plenty of green space. For example they might get away with a small scale high rise (probably four stories max) for a high care unit at the rear of the property where the land is quite naturally excavated courtesy of its rather extreme slope from Menangle Rd. The rest will have to be low rise with lots of green space and parking of course. St John's spokesperson on Facebook 5 October 2018

Such a development is not permitted under the current LEP, there are zoning and height restrictions. State Environmental Planning Policy (Housing for Seniors or People with a Disability) 2004 might allow such a development despite the constraints of the LEP and the SHR Listing.

when the Church itself submitted a proposal years ago to build our worship centre on the horse paddock St John's spokesperson on Facebook 5 October 2018

St John's never submitted a proposal to council for a building on the Horse Paddock. The proposal was considered but rejected by the Parish Council in favour of an expansion to the 1973 hall.

Those opposing the sale and subsequent development are aligned with Satan : "the opposition is Satan". St John's spokesperson on Facebook & sermons from 7 October 2018

A masterful combination of all the popular logical fallacies. Satan is the said to be the great deceiver - he would only be great if those being deceived couldn't tell the difference between God and Satan. In reality, appealing to Heaven, or God is an abandonment of logic and reason. Where does the Bible require the destruction of our heritage for a multi-million air-conditioned building aimed to add a couple of hundred people to your congregation? Don't let anyone deceive you in any way 2 Thessalonians 2 (NIV).

It was confirmed the horse paddock was purchased by the Parish for £500 in 1911. St John's Bulletin 23/7

Newspaper reports from the time show the Horse Paddock (Glebe) was donated by The Camden Park Estate. The original title for the parcel of land (NSW LTO Volume 2216 Folio 44) shows the parcel was transferred from The Camden Park Estate to the Church of England Property Trust, Diocese of Sydney on 6 January 1912 by dealing number 634895. This dealing is a Memorandum of Transfer which shows the consideration (purchase price) was 10/-. On 15 January 1911, a Caveat was placed on the title by the Registrar General (dealing number 634896). This caveat forbids the registration of any dealing affecting the parcel of land not in accordance with a Trust dated 18 September 1911 and filed in the Land Titles Office. The number of the trust is 8098. The declaration of trust shows the parcel of land was transferred for the nominal consideration of 10/-, the land was for 'a Glebe annexed to the Church of St John at Camden'.

Clive Lucas Stapleton and Partners architects, had previously drawn up plans to build our original worship centre on the horse paddock, indicating support for development on this land. St John's Bulletin 23/7

In 2010 the Conservation Management Plan was reviewed by NBRS+Partners 'as the Parish became concerned the proposed location of the new building was inconsistent with the heritage policies and guidelines' - the Addendum conclusions include recommendations to 'retain the Rectory Horse Paddock as open space; continue to use the Rectory;extend the existing Church Hall to the east.'

St. Johns is totally involved in the life and moral fibre of the community. St John's Bulletin 23/7

Many members of the St John's congregation are positively engaged with the community. St John's as an entity, not so much - what can you recall?

The Parking planned is more than Council requirements St John's Bulletin 23/7

The Camden’s Development Control Plan has a base rate of 1 space per 6 seats. The proposed development requires 67 of off-street car parking spaces. 34 new spaces are proposed as part of the development. There are 43 on-site spaces around St John's and a further 20 spaces in the Glebe (horse paddock). So the statement is technically correct. On the other hand, the Diocese recommends one space per 2 - 3 seats. The Council seems to recognise there might be a problem as the Development Consent does not permit the simultaneous use of the new centre and St John's. (It is hard to see how St John's will meet this constraint as there is currently an overlap of services, mainly baptisms). Realistically, people will park on Hill St and Broughton St before parking in the Gelbe or around St John’s.

St Johns has already sold land in the past, where residents of Alpha Rd and Forrest Cres live today and donated 12 acres of land to the Council for the area in the bike track. St John's Bulletin 23/7

No part of Alpha Rd ever belonged to the Anglican Church. Twelve acres of flood prone land known as ‘Kings Bush’ (CMP section 3.5 Page 34) was donated to the community in 1968. The land was simply of no commercial value, detached from the St John's Precinct and a maintenance nightmare. There was no thought of the bike track at the time.

A contemporary worship centre will cater for our growing congregation and also represents an echo of the St. Johns earlier vision for the next 100yrs. St John's Bulletin 23/7

If you look at the history of Camden, there was no intention for large scale settlement. So there is some dispute about the intention for growth, in fact, the CMP (2.5 page 13) states the initial congregation was 500!

The proposed sale of the horse paddock, the Rectory and Alpha Rd is only for the purpose of funding a new worship centre. St John's Bulletin 23/7

This might be the current intention, but the Camden Trust Ordinance 2016 permits other uses.

John Ryan Just in case people doubt that our church is full most Sundays - Facebook (15/7)

In the comment, there is a picture of 73 people in St John's. A good crowd for school holidays, but not full. (We have not reproduced the picture, as the picture seems to be a breach of the Australian Privacy Principles contained in schedule 1 of the Privacy Act 1988.)

Ross Newport/Steve Lardner: The end of the day ... it will be a decision of the Parish...

Tony Galea: I feel not to build would be a grave mistake. So, to stop the sale the congregation has to defy their Senior Minister. This is not going to happen...

The sale for $6m will allow St John's to build and run the new centre

Steve Lardner on 3/7. The sale of the properties for $6m will allow St John's to build and run the new centre for 2 years. At the end of 2 years there will need to be an increase of 73 families to offset the sale of the housing and run the new centre

Tony Galea: There are 227,000 people coming to Camden and we need to be ready

Not to the area defined as the Camden Parish. The figure is for the Camden Local Government Area. The Camden LGA is serviced by many Anglican Churches. The figure for the Parish is close to 1,500

The existing St John's Church will continue to be used for services.

Perhaps, but the St John's leadership is yet to give a clear outline of their plans. Both Tony & Mitchell are on record as saying they are overworked, so a contraction of services is possible. Tim and Cameron are on record as saying the existing St John's Church is unsuitable for youth so no evening service in St John's

St John's leadership (in services and media): The sale has the full support of the Macarthur family

This is simply not correct.

At their 2/7 meeting, John's leadership acknowledged the initial community and parish consultation regarding sale investigations was unsatisfactory and apologised for it

Nothing has changed, still no consultation - only lectures on how they are correct.

"Children run up and down the stairs at the back of the Church, which is dangerous, and because the Church is heritage listed barrier gates cannot be installed"

The stairs at the back of the church are new – c.1995. Therefore of little heritage value and a gate would be easy to install. All the rails are at required height (during the 2008 restorations the brass rail was added.) There is no apparent danger and on crowded services staff or volunteers were once on the organ loft or on the stairs. In any case, heritage does not trump health and safety.

"The capacity of St John's Church is 120."

St John's own Conservation Management Plan details (page 22) some 34 pews, giving a capacity of closer to 200. Some of the pews seem to be missing from more recent configurations.

"The capacity of new building is 400+."

The proposed St John’s Centre does not have 400 usable seats. The design shows six banks of seats (20, 25, 78, 75, 81, 70 ,25) giving 374. These were pew-style seating, not individual seats. Probably 1/3 have difficult sight lines. A more accurate estimate would be 250-300 comfortably seated. (The capacity could be significantly less with individual seats)

"...new larger and more contemporary Worship Centre remains if we are to continue to grow God’s Kingdom in Camden"

Perhaps, but it is not obvious from the church growth literature. Here are two references, one from Rick Warren and one from John Pavlovitz.

"Leaving a legacy or leaving a Liability? (Rev Galea 4 December)"

In his article, the Reverend Galea presents his views on the future of St John's. His statement is his opinion, not naturally supported by fact or the Bible. Jesus' teaching is clearly about leaving a spiritual legacy, not buildings.

"...expense of maintaining an ageing heritage building (Rectory)..."

The 2016 St John's accounts show the Rectory generates more income than the cost of maintenance. In fact, the accounts show subsidy of the operating costs by income from heritage buildings.

Tony Galea: "95 percent of the congregation support the idea of a sale if it means a bigger place of worship to cater for 400 people""

The question has never been put to the congregation. No-one knows the degree of support. There are reports of the Reverand Galea admonishing any with objections and suppressing attempts of protest. Certainly, there is yet to be an open or informed discussion within St John’s.

"Right now we are struggling to fit people in and it’s very uncomfortable, particularly for the families, at our 10am service.""

There is always room in regular services despite missing pews. The children's corner was destroyed, leaving no special place for young children. There is an active Kid's Church (Crèche - Year 6) at 10 am, meaning children at not in church for most of the service. The 5 pm service - created to give families and option to 10 am - has stopped. It seems the problems are self-inflicted.

"Repair works needed on the church building – listed on both the state and national heritage registers – have been estimated at more than $250,000."

There is no national register, the precinct is not on the state heritage register (although recently nominated). No estimates of repair costs are included in the St John's accounts, including the accounts lodged with ACNC (omission from the lodged accounts would seem to be a breach of the ACNC legislation). It is disturbing the St John's leadership is not across the heritage status of the building or legislative requirements.

"Rev Galea said the church did not have the funds in reserve to repair the historic building, tend the lands along Menangle Road and maintain the rectory building while constructing an additional building."

The accounts show decades of neglect of maintenance. Funds received from rent, funerals, weddings, columbarium, land sales and grants are regularly used to subsidise staff and running costs at the expense of maintenance. There is no systematic effort to obtain grants (according to an answer to a question at the AGM: there was no time to apply), no attempt to enlist community support, no attempt to access tax deductions available through the National Trust. The 2016 accounts show a surplus of $108,195 and cash on hand at over $700,000.