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Sunday, 23 November 2014

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Vicar allays fears west Cumbrian church might close

The vicar of Cockermouth has moved to dispel fears that the town’s All Saints Church may be forced to close because of financial problems.

All Saints Church Cockermouth photo
All Saints Church

The Rev Wendy Sanders, team rector for the Cockermouth Area Team, said closure was not an option.

She spoke to reassure churchgoers after the Bishop of Carlisle, the Right Rev James Newcome, recently attended a meeting with them to discuss concerns.

A handout circulated at the meeting said that something had to be done to prevent possible closure.

A Diocese of Carlisle spokesman said that while there were no plans to close the building, there had been discussions over the future of worship there.

The Bishop said no decision had been reached and that discussions were continuing.

Mrs Sanders said: “There is no talk about closing All Saints Church.

“We are struggling financially but we are looking at how we can work that out and looking at various options.”

“The cost for the day-to-day running of the church is the responsibility of the congregation.”

She said a final decision was some months away.

The church’s regular monthly costs are £5,235, which is £3,000 more than its assured monthly income.

A significant part of regular expenditure is used to fund the parish and clergy.

Stuart Hoddinott, church treasurer, said the annual shortfall this year was £20,000 because of some exceptional income items which indicated there was a manageable loss.

However, this was unlikely to be repeated as the church could not budget in future for uncertain items.

All Saints Church has an average congregation of 35 and it is struggling with expenses associated with a building of its age and size.

Mr Hoddinott said: “Fundraising activities have raised several thousands of pounds which has covered most of the building costs so far this year, but we know that there is likely to be a lot more expense to come.”

A meeting of the parish church council will take place on September 17, but Mrs Sanders said that it was not clear whether the future of the building would be discussed at the meeting.

She said that two other churches in the area, the town’s Christ Church and St Bridget’s Church at Bridekirk, were on a stable financial footing.

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