By Ian Dipple 27/04 Updated: 01/05 09:40
THE AXE has finally fallen on a Redditch church more than two years after it was first proposed it should close.
A date for when St George’s Church will finally shut its doors will be set once a 28 day notice period has expired to give people the chance to appeal the decision.
It was first proposed the 140-year-old building should close in March 2010 as congregation numbers at the 400-seater church have dwindled to between 15 and 20 people leaving them struggling to pay rising heating bills, maintenance costs and other fees.
The Church Commissioners considered a number of submissions for and against the closure before agreeing it should shut.
In a letter to the Bishop of Worcester Dr John Inge, the commissioners said they were satisfied there was capacity within other churches in Beoley, Tardebigge and Webheath to meet the pastoral and spiritual needs of St George’s.
Canon David Rogers, rector of the Holy Trinity Parish, said: “St George’s Church has made a significant contribution to the lives of many in Redditch over the past 140 years.
“Sadly there are now too few members attending regularly to carry on the responsibility of ministry and maintenance.
“With another Anglican church only half a mile away, the wider parish has to concentrate its available resources where there are better prospects of success. We will want to carry something of the St George’s worship tradition into other services around the parish.
“The remaining members of St George’s congregation will find the welcome mat ready at whichever of our churches they look to find a home.”
The closure decision will not affect the Garden of Remembrance which will still be maintained by the Parochial Church Council and public access to graves and memorials will also continue.
Coun Jane Potter, chair of governors at St George’s First School which has close links with the church, said the children had been very upset by the decision.
“It has been quite a wrench for everybody at the school,” she said.
Alternative uses for the building include allowing people of different Christian bodies to worship there, education, housing or the community.
The Venerable Fred Trethewey, Archdeacon of Dudley of which Redditch is a part, said it would be a lengthy and sensitive decision which would not start until the appeals process had been completely exhausted. He said the overriding concern would be to find an appropriate use for the building above any commercial considerations.
“The demolition of a closed church is always a last resort when all other possibilities have been exhausted. There are no plans to allow St George’s to be demolished and every effort will be made to find an appropriate use for the building.”
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