SUPPORT is growing for a challenge to the Uniting Church’s sale of three Ballarat churches to pay off millions of dollars worth of debt.
Uniting Church parishioner Joan Chambers handed a submission to state Attorney-General Robert Clark last week to try and seek ways to block the sale.
In her submission, Ms Chambers asked that Mr Clark appoint an administrator to investigate the church’s finances and investigate the legality of its actions.
It comes as the congregation of St Stephen’s church in Williamstown filed a lawsuit to try and block the sale of the 130 year-old building.
Ms Chambers said she was hoping to speak to retired County Court judge Ross Howie, who is leading the lawsuit, about whether it would apply to the Ballarat sale.
Mr Howie is reported to be challenging the Williamstown sale on the grounds it failed to observe the ‘’rules of natural justice’’.
The Uniting Church has put 56 properties from across the state on the auction block to clear a $37 million debt incurred after the collapse of Acacia College last year.
Ms Chambers said she had been overwhelmed by the support she had received since first raising the issue earlier this month.
“I can’t believe it. People have been ringing up from wherever they are because they’re feeling so shocked,” she said.
“I didn’t realise so many others didn’t know it was going on. They felt helpless.”
Ms Chambers said while she could not afford any legal action, she still felt she had to do something to try and save the three buildings.
“I can’t assure them I can do anything. But I’m going to keep trying until my last breath,” she said.
The Uniting Church has acknowledged the sale “will cause upheaval and upset for some across our community”, but believes it is necessary to maintain the church’s future.