The sudden decision by St Paul’s Anglican Church to close its Op Shop took Gloucester residents by surprise.
Doors closed on Monday, June 25, after the church committee agreed to take immediate action on requirements by the diocese.
The church placed a classified advertisement in the Gloucester Advocate on the Wednesday following the closure to advise the community of the temporary closure. However, some members of the community have been outraged by the church’s actions.
Former member of the church, Shirley Beaton, who has since relocated from Gloucester, wrote a letter to the Gloucester Advocate expressing her disappointment.
“Shock, horror,” she stated. “In my opinion, these two words aptly apply to one of Gloucester’s most favoured ventures.
“Having been kept alive through dedication and constant work for 21 years, how dare St Paul’s Parish council believe they have the right ‘to pull the rug from under the feet’ so to speak, of the band of volunteers, without so much as a suggestion, that this may happen,” Ms Beaton expressed.
In a statement from St Paul’s Anglican Church wardens, it was stated that the Op Shop was closed to put in place necessary Work/Heath/Safety requirements, a constitution, workplace grievance procedure and a workplace code of conduct.
“This is to bring the Op Shop into line with other diocesan parish organisations,” the statement read.
“We have acted on the advice of the diocese, through our regional bishop and legal representative. We are sad to have needed to temporarily close but have done this based on the advice received.”
It saddens me to see something so great being torn apart.Shirley Beaton
Among claims within the community that non-church members would be unable to work in the shop when it reopens, Ms Beaton also claimed the church had changed the locks and taken all the donations to the tip.
In its statement, the church responded, “No Op Shop workers have been sacked, all are welcome to return to work when we reopen.”
The statement continued to outline that attending the church is not a requirement to work in the Op Shop, however, new criteria will apply, including the need to complete a one-day course.
“St Paul’s Op Shop regularly receives donations well in excess of what can be sold,” the statement continued.
“Goods which are not saleable are then delivered to the local waste management facility that places the best into their shop and dispose of the rest.
“During the temporary closure, we have been able to provide warm blankets, clothes, and groceries to numerous needy people who have contacted us,” the statement read.
“Having resided in Gloucester for 76 years, and having a 50 year involvement and much work for St Paul’s, as well as having been christened, confirmed and married in this beautiful house of worship, it saddens me to see something so great being torn apart,” Ms Beaton said.
St Paul’s Op Shop is due to open on Saturday, August 18.