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Wednesday, 23 April 2014

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Cumbrian cash crisis church to be closed?

A Workington church is at risk of closure because there is not enough money to keep it running.

Richard Pratt photo
Richard Pratt

Archdeacon of West Cumberland, The Venerable Doctor Richard Pratt, told 21 members of the Northside Church congregation on Sunday that the building, which is about 100 years old, could face closure.

Mr Pratt said that the possibility of closure was in the “very early stages” and no more discussions would take place until the new year.

Even then, he said a meeting was likely to take place between members of the Northside Parochial Church Council, which has flagged up the financial problems, to decide what the next steps will be.

And if a decision is made by the PCC to move forward with plans to close the building, consultations will take place.

“Nothing has been decided yet,” he said. “We had an initial discussion with the congregation saying that we need to think about it.

“They need time to reflect on what has been said. Even if the church building closes it doesn’t mean the church closes. We are not giving up on Northside. The church building is quite big and relatively expensive.

“This is not imminent, the church has known there is an issue for a year now.”

Mr Pratt said that escalating costs such as insurance, heating and electricity are to blame for the possible closure.

The Rev Ian Grainger, Vicar at Northside, said: “It’s a difficult situation. The reality is that we are short of suitable options. The Northside Church situation is precarious.

“We will continue to have discussions for as long as we need to.”

If the church were to close, there are a number of possibilities that have been flagged up for the congregation to move to another venue.

There are St Paul’s Church in Seaton, St Michael’s in Workington and the Northside Community Centre. Last month Doreen Murray, the manager of Northside Community Centre, said that the centre could close because of funding issues.

Mr Pratt said that by moving the church congregation to the centre, could help save the centre and keep the congregation in Northside.

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