Sect looks for a new home
By Danielle Talbot
The Family religious sect is trying to set up a new base in the outer suburbs of Melbourne following a recent influx of interstate missionaries.
The sect, formerly known as the Children of God, yesterday placed an advertisement in `The Age', calling for free or cheap "large-scale housing" that would enable the group to continue its missionary work.
The sect made news in May when Community Services Victoria raided its premises and seized more than 50 children. The children were released a few days later after court action. Further legal proceedings are pending.
A sect spokesman said it had outgrown its farmhouse at Glenlyon in central Victoria and was keen to establish a new centre "on the fringes" of metropolitan Melbourne.
He said a vacant motel, nursing home or two semi-detached houses, preferably on an acreage, would be ideal.
The spokesman said the proposed centre would operate as an "open house" to "show the public what we are doing".
He said the sect had no intention of leaving Melbourne and would continue to minister to the city's "street kids" and other disadvantaged groups.
He said the sect was pleased with the response to the advertisement, and several real estate agents had promised to "keep in touch".
He said he agreed with an assessment by Community Services Victoria that the Glenlyon farmhouse was too small to house 40 to 50 people. But he stressed that the department's concerns had not played a role in the sect's decision to relocate.
He said the option of moving closer to Melbourne had been discussed for some time because of the need to accommodate a recent influx of interstate missionaries.
"It's not a smokescreen to divert attention away from anything suspicious. We need housing, it's as plain and simple as that," he said.
At present, the controversial Christian sect rents two houses in Glen Waverley and a house in Panton Hill as well as the Glenlyon farmhouse.
The spokesman also said the decision to move was not a reflection on the local community at Glenlyon. "They have been wonderful. They have given us tremendous support since the raids. We have no complaints."