Thursday, 10 June 2010


This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
Two churches to close in Leicester this month over costs
Two churches will close this month because the diocese can no longer afford to keep them open.
St Peter's, off Thurcaston Road, Belgrave, Leicester, and the nearby St Gabriel's, in Kerrysdale Avenue, will hold their final services on Sunday, June 27.
A day later, both buildings will be officially shut.
The decision was taken after a long consultation about their future and an unsuccessful campaign to save the 11th century St Peter's.
From next month, St Alban's, in Weymouth Street, will be the only church serving Belgrave.
Father Tony Coslett, team rector for the parish, said: "This is not about failure. It is not about retreat. It is about re-grouping. When a church closes it is remarkably sad. I am gutted.
"St Alban's will now become a powerhouse of the parish.
"We look forward to serving the community from this church.
"The Church of England is still committed to this area. We will still have a lot going on."
He said the closures were not solely for financial reasons.
However, the parish has faced a drop in numbers at services, dwindling collections and escalating bills, meaning it could only afford to keep one church open.
The parish chose St Alban's because it said it had better facilities and was cheaper to run.
A public consultation prompted 135 letters of protest at the plans, most concerning the closure of St Peter's. Despite that, in February, the Church of England upheld the parish's proposals to decommission the buildings.
Church Commissioners said the parish only needed one building. Ian Bewley-Parker, 71, who worshipped at St Peter's for most of his life and used to be churchwarden, said the decision to close the churches was "stupid".
Janet Lucas, who lives near the church, said: "They have shot themselves in the foot.
"I do not think they are going to get the people in St Alban's."
She said she hoped the churches would have a public open day before their doors were bolted, for the benefit of the community as well as the congregations.
St Peter's is a grade II-listed building with a history dating back to 1082.
St Gabriel's was built in the mid-1960s.
It has not been decided what will happen to the buildings after they close.
A spokesman for the Diocese of Leicester said following the closures on June 28 the management of the churches would be handed from the parochial church council to the diocese's board of finance.
He said: "There will be a series of meetings and discussions between interested parties about the future of the buildings.
"These could include talks between people including the city council and English Heritage. It will be an ongoing process."
The final services on June 27 will get under way at St Peter's at 3pm and at St Gabriel's at 6.30pm.

No comments:

Post a Comment