Australian diocese facing liquidation

The Anglican Church of Australia’s Diocese of Bathurst has launched a million dollar appeal to fund its legal battle to save its properties from foreclosure. Last week the Rt. Rev. Ian Palmer told members of the diocese they needed to raise the cash to pay fight a $25 million claim for a loan repayment. Commonwealth Bank loaned the money to the Anglican Development Fund, which used the funds to build and refurbish a number of church schools. The former Bishop of Bathurst, the Rt. Rev. Richard Hurford, signed the loan agreement as chairman of the fund, which has since been closed. An economic downturn in the rural diocese caused a drop in income from the school’s, which led to missed loan payments. After liquidating the assets of the fund the bank then sought to recoup its loan from the diocese, arguing the bishop’s signature, given under his episcopal seal, served to extend the liability to the diocese – a separate legal entity. On 19 July 2014 the bishop met with representatives of the diocese’s 34 parishes, spread across Western New South Wales from the Blue Mountains to the Queensland border, to discuss a way forward. “We don’t think that the demands the Commonwealth Bank have placed upon us are reasonable and in order to mount our defence we need support from the parishes,” Bishop Palmer said.

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