NOT so long ago some denominational diehards would not dare step inside an unfamiliar church building, let alone enjoy another style of worship service.
Thankfully that one-eyed religious tradition is changing, at least in the Dunkeld district where the Uniting Church congregation is looking to sell its 100-year-old building and share the pews of another local denomination — the Anglicans.
Co-sharing is likely to be fostered in other Western District rural communities while further north in Horsham a historic Lutheran-Uniting joint communion is scheduled to start in May.
“There’s a genuine desire to get together,” western Victorian Uniting Church presbytery administrator David Thompson told The Standard.
“It’s early days, but what Dunkeld is doing will be followed with interest by other congregations.
“The shared communion move in Horsham is becoming a national conversation — it’s really exciting to see.”
Dunkeld’s Gothic-style brick church was built in 1913 and is in need of repairs estimated at $20,000.
Reverend Thompson of Colac said the small congregation had decided to sell the church building and adjacent hall and pool the proceeds rather than trying to find money for basic repairs.
“It’s old and starting to fall apart,” he said. “Discussions are progressing favourably with the Anglicans to share their building.”
The property will be put to auction at 11am on April 13 through agents Pat Rice and Hawkins and be open for inspection on March 30 and April 6 from 11am to 1pm.
Agent Bart O’Sullivan said the 4000-square-metre allotment on two titles was expected to fetch about $125,000.
“Pews not returned to descendants of the original donors will be offered for auction at the conclusion of the sale of the church freehold,” he said.
Reverend Thompson said a central regional fund was being used to support ministers to cover congregations across the Henty region including Hamilton, Portland and several small communities keen to continue church involvement.
“It’s a new venture where even the smallest congregations can put in something to support ministry,” he said.
“More people are getting involved in pastoral care and taking services. They find it very life-giving.”