Financial strain could close village church

Felton URC at West Thirston
Felton URC at West Thirston

A village church could be put up for sale as financial difficulties have taken hold.

Speaking at Monday’s Felton Parish Council meeting, Charlotte Long, a member of the congregation at Felton United Reformed Church, in West Thirston, said that the church will have run out of money by the end of this year.

The congregation is looking at various options but the future is uncertain.

Charlotte said: “We have been having financial difficulties of late.

“We have realised that basically our monthly income is less than our monthly expenditure.

“We are looking at the future of the church congregation and we have been given various options to consider.

“Firstly, pray for a miracle. We could leave the building and hand it back to synod and find somewhere else to meet or make changes to the current building.

“We haven’t made any decisions as yet, but things are serious enough that we could be closed by the end of the year if things don’t improve.

“We do have money outstanding that is owed to us and that will tide us over for a little while.

“But the necessary expenditure is just to maintain the church. It is in need of a new roof and that is also going to cost a lot of money.”

The church has an average congregation of 25 but the building can seat 200 people and many of its members are over 60 years old.

Members of the church have met to discuss the way forward and have also a meeting in June with the whole congregation and synod.

Options being considered are meeting at the village hall or St Michael’s church, selling off part of the URC hall or the church itself.

Tony Hood, chairman of the parish council, said councillors would look into any funding it could help with.

He added: “This is not the sort of news we want to hear, but we would like to be kept informed.

“We will do everything we can, within reason, to help.”