Protesters offered Maerdy church in Rhondda for £1,000
Campaigners fighting to save a church in Rhondda Cynon Taf have been offered the building for £1,000, well below the £25,000 market value.
Protesters have been staging a sit-in at All Saints Church in Maerdy, which needs £400,000 of repairs, all month.
Archbishop of Wales Dr Barry Morgan said he was giving the protesters a chance to save the church.
Campaigners said they could raise £1,000, but they disputed the repair costs, claiming they were £100,000.
Dr Morgan said the Church in Wales could sell the building at that price provided it was kept as a place of worship.
The parochial church council (PCC), which is made up of elected members from the three local churches of Maerdy, Ferndale and Tylorstown, had voted to close All Saints.
The Maerdy branch abstained from the vote over the church's future.
End Quote Dr Barry Morgan Archbishop of Wales
I am giving the protesters in Maerdy exactly what they are asking for - a chance to save All Saints Church from closure”
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.
But on Friday the Church in Wales confirmed it was now offering the church for just £1,000.
Dr Morgan said: "I am giving the protesters in Maerdy exactly what they are asking for - a chance to save All Saints Church from closure.
"They are confident they can raise enough money to restore and maintain it and now they will only have to find an extra £1,000 to buy it.
"It's a great opportunity for them as the community would then own the building and the land and its future would be in their hands."
'Dry and wet rot'
End Quote Sarah Morton Friends of All Saints
We can raise the £1,000, but will need to start fundraising towards the repair costs.”
The archbishop, who made the offer to sell the church at a PCC meeting in Tylorstown on 19 July, before accompanying protesters to All Saints, said it was "a sad situation" to see any church close.
The Church in Wales said the church was valued at £25,000, and the £1,000 it was asking would simply cover its costs in handling the sale.
However, Sarah Morton of the church campaigners Friends of All Saints said the repairs would only cost £100,000.
She said: "We've had a survey carried out and the architect and surveyor who visited the church said there was nowhere near £400,000 worth of repairs.
"They said £100,000 would secure the roof and solve the dry and wet rot problems."
"We can raise the £1,000, but will need to start fundraising towards the repair costs.
"We're appealing for donations from building firms and tradesmen who might be able to work for free or for a lower fee, and we'll have to come up with fundraising ideas."