THE Bishop of Stafford has given worshippers at an 800-year-old church one year to turn around its fortunes before he is forced to recommend its closure.
In a letter to the congregation at St Michael and All Angels Church, In Tatenhill, Reverend Geoff Annas painted a ‘stark picture’ for the site, revealing that it owed £57,218 in its parish share, money which every parish pays towards the cost of a vicar.
He revealed that last year Tatenhill was the only area in the diocese not to contribute to parish share and he has now challenged the church council, congregation and the community to decide on the future of the church.
Reverend Andrew Ridley, who received the letter, said it stated: “The church has the goodwill of the local community but residents do not seem to want to worship there and there are a number of other churches within easy reach.
“Tatenhill has been behind in its parish share for more than 10 years.
“The support of the Friends of Tatenhill Church group is offering help towards the upkeep of the building but a more significant contribution towards the payment of its parish share for 2014, and a willingness to pay the parish share for future years.
“At the church council’s spring meeting in 2015, the bishop would like to be able to record a significant contribution to the parish share and show that the number attending worship have increased.
“If that is not the case the archdeacon will be reluctantly instructed to begin the process of closure on the basis that the majority of local people do not want a parish church.
“The bishop apologises for painting such a stark picture, particularly for those who have continued to worship faithfully at the site.
“He hopes and prays that the decision will be to grow the church into a flourishing presence in the area.”
A meeting is set to be held later this month to discuss the bishop’s comments.