Update following the meeting at Chelford Church on 4th July 2022 about the future of the Church of God in Chelford.
I would like to thank those who joined us for the meeting.
There were some key points which I made at that meeting which I have detailed below.
1. The Church of God is the people in community not the actual building which is the place we gather to worship.
2. The number of people who attend is small and there is an ageing demographic.
3. For a significant number of years, the overheads / expenditure of the parish has significantly exceeded its income which comes from regular giving or donations. Each Parish has to pay a contribution to the Diocese which covers the cost of the priest, their salary, pensions, training, housing and a small percentage which helps run the central diocesan support such as legal advice, pastoral support and other administrative support. This is called parish share.
4. Chelford currently has insufficient income to meet this monthly payment alongside its other day to day running costs. We have a parish share arrears of about £20,000 to the Diocese and this is rising on a monthon-month basis.
5. We have also just received the report following the 5 yearly inspection of the Grade 2* listed church building. This has identified urgent work estimated at a cost of approximately £200,000, but likely to be more. The oil-fired heating system is currently out of action and needs replacement.
What do we need:
1. More people to join us as regular worshippers who can help with some of the regular jobs that need to be done and also by becoming regular contributors to the church funds. Until we can ensure that we can cover our ongoing costs we have to seriously consider what options there are available.
The Archdeacon outlined the following possibilities:
1. Congregations increase and we become a thriving church community who can sustain the church building on a day-to-day basis and meet the costs of ongoing maintenance. It has to be remembered that the current building is difficult to get to, there is limited car parking space and the interior of the building restricts what events can be held.
2. The Church building is only used as a festival church for occasional services say 3 or 4 times a year. Whilst that means the Parochial Church Council passes responsibility for the building to a local Trust (if it can be formed) it needs to be maintained and heated to protect the fabric.
3. It can be offered to the Church Conservation Trust Homepage | The Churches Conservation Trust (visitchurches.org.uk) but they don’t have to accept it. It is not known whether they would accept this particular building.
4. It could become either Local Place of Worship or Chapel of Ease which reduces the need to hold a weekly service but doesn’t deal with the issues around maintenance.
5. The final option may be that the building needs to be sold but there is a lengthy process before any sale is agreed which involves the Church Commissioners.
1. Anyone who can become a regular member and giver is encouraged to do this.
3. At this stage we would discourage people from arranging individual fundraising events and ask that any ideas are shared so that we as a Parochial Church Council can consider the best approach on a community basis.
4. Whilst this needs to be agreed with the Bishop of Chester, we are planning that with effect from the beginning of October 2022, because of the issues with heating, all our Chelford Services will be held in Chelford Church of England Primary School by kind permission of Mr Brady the Head teacher.
5. We will hold another community meeting early in 2023 to provide an update on the situation and to reflect together on the experience of meeting in the school. This will be brought forward in the event that there is something material to report.