FINLEY residents are rallying in a bid to save a historic church from demolition.
The Presbyterian Church wants to knock down its building and replace it with a modern multi-purpose church, after receiving demolition approval from Berrigan Council.
But the demolition was halted last Thursday by a 40-day heritage protection order from the NSW Heritage Council ahead of a ruling on an interim protection order.
An online petition has received more than 400 signatures from residents who fear a part of the town’s history will be lost forever.
Patricia Boyd, who is leading the charge to save the 95-year-old building, said it had been “one tremendous battle so far”.
“It’s important because a lot of local families donated the funds to build it in the first place and there are many descendants of families still in the area,” she said.
“It’s dedicated to the memory of those families and it’s also dedicated to the servicemen who went to World War I.
“It’s got a lot of history.”
The petition notes the church had been a place for “christenings, marriages, funerals and social gatherings” for many generations.
Mayor Bernard Curtin said the church had asked the council not to put the building on the shire’s heritage register as it wanted to renovate it.
The council then app- roved a development application to demolish the building before residents raised concerns.
“The council had no reason not to approve it as it met the criteria,” Cr Curtin said.
“My understanding was it was the wish of the Presbyterian people.
“Subsequently over 40 people came to a meeting to register their protest about demolishing it.
Church minister Reverend David Els said he did not want to comment on the issue.
“We’re not getting into the fray,” he said.