Old church to be stripped of holiness in 'backward' step
GRAEME Shelley is bracing himself for a Saturday he wishes wouldn't come.
At a time when Freestone is "just picking back up", Mr Shelley will attend the final service at the church he's been attending his whole life.
This Saturday, Bishop Cameron Venables will officially "deconsecrate" the St Luke's Anglican church in Freestone, meaning it will no longer be a dedicated place of worship.
The quaint church was dedicated in 1905.
But with dwindling numbers, the decision has been made to sell the building and land.
Mr Shelley is the fourth generation of his family to attend services at the church and two more generations have followed him.
"I feel very, very sad," he said.
"Just to think that Freestone and Yangan are both going to be sold is a backwards step in my mind, because the districts are growing."
Mr Shelley's great-grandmother presented the first bible to the church.
Before that, Anglican masses were held in her house in Freestone.
Reverend Rod Winterton said the decision to close the church was two years in the making and the parish had been consulted.
"It used to be a community hub and that no longer happens and the building is basically totally underutilised," he said.
The church used to draw crowds of 40 to a fortnightly service, but now struggles to get four people each month.
Mr Winterton said "no one" would take responsibility for its long-term upkeep of the church.
He said the small, dedicated group of people currently preparing the church were getting older and could not be expected to keep up all the work.
"They can be disappointed all they like but if they don't support something, what do they expect?" he asked.
"I would have loved to have kept it open but if people don't support it, what is the point?"
He said Saturday would be a very sad day for Anglican parishioners.
Expressions of interest will be accepted for a 30-day period when the sale is officially announced before the end of this month.
The Anglican church at Yangan will also be deconsecrated and sold, brining the total number of Anglican churches in the district to five.