Maryport church forced to close for good
Last updated at 13:24, Friday, 22 February 2013
Maryport's iconic Christ Church has been forced to close permanently.
The mounting cost of maintaining and repairing the harbour side church led to a closure decision by the Parochial Church Council of St Mary with Christ Church on Wednesday.
The most urgent repairs, which would allow the church to open, are estimated to cost more than £110,000.
Christ Church has been closed for about a month because its boiler and heating system failed and there was concern about the wiring, electrics and the roof.
Even if this money could be raised, the parochial council said, the congregation was unable to generate enough income to cover running costs.
The Rev Gill Hart, team rector, said the church had been using its reserves for some time.
She said: “Now, sadly, time and money have run out.”
In a statement last night, the PCC said it was aware that the decision would cause sadness in the town.
It said: “Christ Church means a lot to many people – to the town as a whole as well as to church people and those with links of all sorts to the church.”
Built in 1872, it has been the sailors’ church for 141 years.
The statement added: “But just as most of the fishing fleet has gone because of changes to the economy and community, so the Church too is not immune to change.”
It made clear that nearby St Mary’s and All Souls churches would welcome Christ Church members into their congregations.
Dr Richard Pratt, the Archdeacon of West Cumberland, said: “The diocese supports the PCC in the tough decision they have made.
“We understand that people in Maryport will be sad, and of course buildings, especially church buildings, are important but even more important are people.
“We would rather see resources going into the mission of the church, through the clergy and congregations to the people of Maryport, than into buildings.”
The parochial council will explore its next move with legal and property advisors but a possible outcome is that the building may be sold.
Maryport mayor Peter Kendall said: “Christ Church has been part of our town for so long.
“It has been so involved in the tragedies and highlights of whatever has been happening in our maritime affairs.”
He said Christ Church was probably the most photographed church in the area.
First published at 13:08, Friday, 22 February 2013
Published by http://www.timesandstar.co.uk
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