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Volunteers come together to save St James Church

A VOLUNTARY group of Rosny and Montagu Bay residents have formed in an effort to try and convert a former Anglican St James Church in Loinah Road, Montagu Bay into a community hall.

The church, which was closed in June 2018 and deconsecrated on 3 February this year, is due to be sold, but the timeframe is unknown.

St James Church was built in 1947 and was formed as part of the parish of Lindisfarne.

It has been well cared for and has been a well-loved spiritual home for a “family group” of 15 to 20 hard working parishioners who are saddened by the loss of the church.

Group spokesman Peter Edwards said the group came together late last year out of concern for its future and to gauge community interest in having a community hall maintained in public hands.

“It’s a treasured asset for Montagu Bay and Rosny, and because we’re devoted to volunteering and community issues, we thought why not try to get some useful opportunity for this building as a community hall,” he said.

The group letterboxed every residence in the area and held a community forum at Montagu Bay Primary School, which was attended by 30 people.

“Many terrific ideas that we could use the church for were forwarded, including having a regular fruit, vegetable and plant market, quiz nights, children’s nature play activities, a community fair, and a centre for multicultural get togethers,” Mr Edwards said.

Mr Edwards said representatives from the group met Clarence’s Mayor and Deputy Mayor to discuss a possible purchase by Council.

“They were very professional in their attitude and advised that a community hall would need strong interest from the local community and a solid business case for it to be viable,” he said.

“The attendance at the community forum represented just a few per cent of the local community, and their attendance and ideas were greatly appreciated.

“If a large interested group was to come forward with a grand idea for the future of the former church, there’s a chance it could be purchased and sustained as a community hub.

“There’s always hope in a venture like this, so please talk to us and we would consider providing a business plan for the future of the building.”

The voluntary group can be contacted through email at rosnyhillfriends210@gmail.com.

Caption: From left, volunteer group members Griffin Winckel, Susan Castillo, Bonnie Morgan, Jo Castill, Lewis Winckel, Colleen Fleming, Rowena Mackean, Margaret Andrews, Peter Edwards and Wengseng Mah are fighting to turn St James Church into a community hub.