ST Aidan’s at Black Springs will continue as a village church after it was bought by a benefactor.
The future of the heritage-listed building had been in doubt after the Bishop of Bathurst, the Reverend Ian Palmer, announced his decision late last year to sell it to help pay redress to those abused by lay people and clergy from the parishes and institutions of this diocese.
The church gate was locked in November last year and the building was put on the market early this year.
But in a dramatic turn of events, the new owner has bestowed the church on the congregation and his wish is that it continues in perpetuity as a place of worship.
A church spokesperson said the congregation was informed of the purchase and presented with the responsibility for the church’s “ongoing development and ministry”.
The church has now been reopened.
At the same time, plans have been revealed to turn the three acres that adjoin the church into a wildlife and native plant haven, conserved to become “a place of contemplation, prayer and quiet solitude”, according to the spokesperson.
The tiny church, described as a simple pioneer tin building lined with baltic pine and set in a paddock on the edge of the village of Black Springs, was closed for a short time until 2012, when the then Bishop of Bathurst supported its reopening.
In the intervening years, there had been an active congregation drawn from the surrounding rural area, the church spokesperson said.
Following the recent closure, the congregation continued to meet outside the locked church gate in prayer, they said.
Oberon Council wrote to Bishop Palmer last year requesting he reconsider his decision to sell off the property.
The church spokesperson said they were “humbled and grateful for the encouragement, support and prayers received in recent weeks from widespread church supporters, the community of Oberon, council representatives and our mayor”.