Asbestos threatens historic church

AN ASBESTOS threat could force the demolition of Griffith's first Baptist church if a renovation proves too costly.

The fate of the Baptist Church in Pioneer Park, which was built for 600 pounds in 1925 and relocated to its current site in 1972, is being considered by the Pioneer Park management committee.

Council's tourism and economic development manager Greg Lawrence said the church had been closed to the public since asbestos was discovered.

Initial quotes suggest demolishing the building and disposing of the dangerous building material will cost $25,000 but renovations had not been ruled out.

"The church has asbestos and so we have to remove that," Mr Lawrence said.

"It has already been closed off because we have to be mindful of doing the right thing by our community's safety.

"One option is to demolish the building but a second school of thought is to come up with an alternative way to look after the church while getting rid of the asbestos we haven't ruled anything out at this stage."

The church secretary at the time the building was relocated, Ron Jarvis, conceded years ago the church would eventually fall apart.

"We don't have the money to restore the old church so we wrote it off some years ago," Mr Jarvis said.

"It's a shame but the church has to go because it is worth a lot of money to restore an old church which will only sit up on the hill and it's just not worth it."

Mr Jarvis said the current church, which was built on the original location on the corner of Wakaden and Whitton streets, meant more to today's members than the original.

"We grew melons and onions and raised cows for years to raise funds for the new church which is why it has much more significance," Mr Jarvis said.

"The generation of today doesn't bother with the old nostalgic lines like 'that was my church and I was married there' - those days have gone.

"Our church has grown to include 16 nations now and they're not interested in a church from 1925."

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