Albury church disappointed by vandal's 'cry for help'

GLASS panelling 144 years old was smashed at St Matthew’s Church rectory in Albury on Sunday when Professor Geoffrey Blainey was delivering a lecture during the morning church service.

A trail of blood was found on the veranda and the door panel was broken.

Archdeacon Peter MacLeod-Miller said yesterday that Professor Blainey, Australia’s leading historian, wasn’t aware that someone was attacking the rectory door as he spoke about 9.30am.

Father MacLeod-Miller wasn’t too concerned that someone had kicked in and smashed the door at the 1869 rectory, though it would probably cost about $1000 to replace.

“This is just a door,” he said.

“I’m hoping our insurer might cover the bulk of it.”

Referring to past vandalism, he joked: “They probably think we’ve worn out our welcome.”

Professor Blainey, 83 yesterday, is listed as an Australian National Living Treasure.

Father MacLeod-Miller thought children in the congregation would probably remember more of Professor Blainey’s lecture than the smashed door.

It’s not the most unusual incident the Anglican priest has dealt with during his four years at the church.

Last year, a man marched straight up the altar to Father MacLeod-Miller during a service.

“He went straight past the congregation and said: ‘I want to give you a chihuahua’.

“I said, ‘Wait till after the service, but thank you’.”

He said that almost every weekend, someone came into the forecourt and banged on the door or yelled from the street.

Father MacLeod-Miller sees bad behaviour as more a cry for help than disrespecting the church.

“The Bible is full of people yelling out to Jesus and people trying to shut them up — the thing is people do this out of extreme need,” he said.

“Sometimes they come because there’s no other place to take them and, in that sense, they think they could get some sort of help from the church when everyone else has given up on them.

“I’ve chosen to live here because if people are in real need they will knock on the door.

“I’d be disappointed if people felt they couldn’t do that.”

Archdeacon Peter MacLeod-Miller examines the rectory door damaged on Sunday. Picture: Tara Goonan

Archdeacon Peter MacLeod-Miller examines the rectory door damaged on Sunday. Picture: Tara Goonan