Christ Church on Acland St needs to be saved

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By former councillor Serge Thomann

 

When I was asked to help to raise funds to restore Christ Church in Acland Street, I could only say yes.

Why? Being French, it would be very odd for me to be a member of the Church of England – I got my cathedrals confused when I arrived in Australia.

But Christ Church is one of the oldest if not the oldest public buildings on the south side of the Yarra and we just cannot lose it.

I am not saying that a block of apartments will be built instead of the church but if it deteriorates much more, eventually, the church will be locked to the public and God (hopefully, he will look over it with a caring eye) only knows what will happen then.

We launched our restoration campaign at the end of July on the weekend when the church turned 160 with a “son et lumière” as we say in French, a light show outside and music inside the church.

It was very well received and it spread the message to St Kilda residents and others that we might lose this very significant building.

Even the Melbourne’s Archbishop Dr Philip Freier came to celebrate with us and stayed for a couple of hours.

I was asked many questions that I think are worthy responding to as part of this column.

Why isn’t the church paying for it?

Like most churches or religious organisations, the Anglican Church is asset rich and cash poor. Of the cash they do have, most is spent on the ever-growing need of social support services they provide.

It’s the same with Christ Church. The money that is available is spent on the services provided through the community centre.

Another common one is why keep this church when parishioners the number of parishioners is on the decline?

As I said, I am not from the Church of England but I believe that the church in Acland Street is not just as a place of worship but a building of very high significance and it needs to be fully restored for many future generations to come to enjoy it, as a church or maybe something else as well.

But this cannot be done without a very broad support from everyone, including benefactors and philanthropist who I am sure would not want to lose such a precious asset.

The church’s 160th celebrations saw many musicians, singers, and DJ’s and helped show the iconic building in a new light.

I am thrilled to say that this experience has shown all the potential of the church an as amazing concert venue and performance space.

I loved the sound of John Montesand’s trumpet and Ben Rogers’ guitar. Or Alice Platt’s great voice with Claude on guitar. Or Evangeline, a great new talent, as a cool DJ.

The organ is also of a very high calibre and I am looking forward for classical concerts being played using this beautiful instrument that was fully restored a few years ago.

The church will open more often to all in the few months and I encourage as many of you to come and check out the very precious place we have got, so close to us all.

Maybe we are so used to it that we sometimes forget it is there.

I encourage you to spread the word, to like our FB page, and if you can, to make a fully tax deductible donation.

I am also happy to accept any suggestions you might have about saving this St Kilda icon.

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