South East Wales

All Saints Church, Maerdy: Campaigners give up fight

Parishioners who staged a sit-in to save their church have given up, blaming proposals to shake up the Church in Wales.

Friends of All Saints Church in Rhondda said they had no option, amid recommendations for larger parishes.

The Church in Wales agreed to lease the Maerdy building to local people planned to buy it for £1,000, but parishioners also could not afford £400,000 repairs.

The Church in Wales said it was willing to meet them and discuss any concerns.

Barbara Daniel, the former warden at All Saints, said: "It is with a heavy heart that after a long campaign, we feel we have been left no option by the Church in Wales other than to discontinue our efforts in fighting to keep All Saints Church open.

"Parishioners, and indeed the whole community, of Maerdy feel bereft and let down by the hierarchy of the Church in Wales which is no longer supporting this vital work in deprived areas such as Maerdy.

"It is now obvious that had we raised every penny necessary to repair All Saints Church, [that] under the archbishop's plan, we would close anyway.

Image caption A month-long protest was held at the church in 2011

"It is such a pity that so many people have battled on, planned and organised, and been given false hope with no possibility of a successful outcome. It makes one question the openness of the Church in Wales."

Campaigners had agreed to buy the building after staging a month-long sit-in in July 2011 to save it.

A Church in Wales spokeswoman said it had not been told of the latest decision by campaigners.

"The representative body of the Church in Wales, which owns All Saints Church, sent a draft lease to the Friends of All Saints on 11 May and is still waiting for a response," she said.

"We would be willing to meet and discuss any concerns they have.

"Leasing the building for a year would have given the friends an opportunity to see if they were able to draw up a proper business plan for the building, investigate grants and raise the money needed to enable it to return to being a place of worship.

"Once the archbishop had been satisfied that the building's future was secured with enough money raised, worship there would have been able to resume.

"It was the same decision taken more than a year ago by the Parochial Church Council when they voted to close it. They feared then it was putting an unfair financial burden on the community. "

The decision comes a week after a review of the Church in Wales said it needed to reform and modernise.

It recommended forming "super size" parishes run by vicars and lay people and holding non-traditional services on days other than Sunday.

The study by three leading Anglicans highlighted "very low morale" in some parishes.

All Saints parishioners have now said the options offered to them were "restrictive" and "devoid of involvement from the church".

"We still believe our community is in dire need of spiritual support and we had hoped to work in partnership with the Church in Wales to restore and rejuvenate the church to provide this care and support for the people of Maerdy," said Ms Daniel.

"We are all very disappointed and saddened at this outcome, but many positives have come from the shared experience."

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