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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Major blow in fight to save Cockermouth church

The future of Cockermouth’s All Saints Church hangs in the balance after a Christian group declined to take over the landmark building.

Dr Richard Pratt, archdeacon of West Cumberland, told parishioners at the church’s annual meeting last week that the King’s Church group had turned down the possibility of taking it over.

The Anglican church is suffering from financial difficulties.

The Bishop of Carlisle, the Right Rev James Newcome, had recommended that the town’s King’s Church could take over the building. He said that the existing congregation could then transfer to the town’s Christ Church.

But King’s Church carried out a feasibility study and last week informed the Diocese of Carlisle of its decision.

Dr Pratt said: “They have decided they don’t want it. Their movement doesn’t typically own buildings, so for them to take on a church building is a big step. They said it was a step too far.

“We are looking at all options. The future is entirely up in the air.

“At the annual church meeting I was only able to report that we were no further forward.

“I am conscious of time ticking past. We need to get a decision as quickly as we can. The finances remain a huge concern.”

He said no meetings on the church’s future were currently scheduled.

King’s Church has been in Cockermouth for around 30 years and meets at Cockermouth School on Sundays. About 200 people attend its services.

Roger Bye, pastor, said last year that the Cockermouth congregation had been looking for a permanent building for several years.

Members of the All Saints congregation want the church to stay Anglican and presented a 900-name petition to a meeting of the parochial church council in October last year.

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From page 1

They also set up a group to investigate how to bring in more services and funding.

Mary Todd, one of the church wardens, welcomed the news that King’s Church won’t be taking over All Saints and is upbeat about the building’s future.

She said: “It’s really good news for us. It had left us in a bit of limbo, but we decided that we weren’t going to sit back and we were going to be positive.”

The group is planning to hold a number of events this year to try to get more people into the church.

Events include a concert on May 4 featuring the Solway Singers, a hymn festival in June to celebrate the 160th anniversary of the church being rebuilt, an art exhibition in July and an exhibition in September on the history of the church.

The group has also reformed the church’s Sunday school, with children meeting once a month.

The long-term goal is to apply for funding to improve the church, but plans are at an early stage.

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