Archbishop offers to sell All Saints Church in Maerdy
Campaigners trying to save a church in the Rhondda from closure say they are considering an offer by the Church in Wales to let them buy the building.
The offer was made by Archbishop of Wales Dr Barry Morgan at a meeting on Tuesday night.
Protesters have staged a sit-in at All Saints Church in Maerdy since the beginning of the month.
Dr Morgan said he had "tried to find a compromise", and the church could be bought for less than its market value.
The parochial church council (PCC), which is made up of elected members from the three local churches of Maerdy, Ferndale and Tylorstown - the benefice of Rhondda Fach Uchaf, had voted to close All Saints.
The Maerdy branch had abstained from the vote over the church's future, which needs £400,000 in repairs.
The PCC has refused to give the church a year's reprieve, and the archbishop has refused to overrule that decision because it had been taken by a democratically elected body.
The archbishop, who made the offer to sell the church at a PCC meeting in Tylorstown on Tuesday evening before accompanying protesters to All Saints, said it was "a sad situation" to see any church close.
He told parishioners: "What I've said to them is I'll try to find a way for the Church in Wales to transfer this to a charity which you've set up and then you will own this building and you will repair it.
End Quote Coun Gerwyn Evans
All we asked for is a further 12 months to continue the worship here...”
"Once you've put it into a good state of repair then Anglican worship can resume here."
The archbishop also said that three weddings which had been due to take place at All Saints over the next few months would now be able to go ahead.
One protester, Rhondda Cynon Taf councillor Gerwyn Evans, gave a word of caution to parishioners.
He said: "All we asked for is a further 12 months to continue the worship here, as what's happened in the last 126 years. They said 'no'.
"Is this a signal of where the Church in Wales is going to go?
"I would caution every parishioner that's in the Church of Wales, next Sunday, when they go to these churches and worship, is their church going to be next on the market?"
However, the Church in Wales said the decision to close any of its churches was always taken by the local PCC.
Only once the PCC had made the decision could the Church in Wales take steps to close a church.