Historic church set to close as congregation plan move to community centre

St. James Church, Castle Eden.
St. James Church, Castle Eden.

A CONGREGATION could make the move from chapel to community centre after the first steps were taken in what could lead to the closure of their church.

St James’s in Castle Eden is facing a host of issues which leaders say make its future uncertain, from difficulties in accessing the church to condemned trees which need to be felled at a great cost.

Castle Eden Village Hall, Stockton Road, Castle Eden.

Castle Eden Village Hall, Stockton Road, Castle Eden.

They also say they are struggling to find people willing to take care of the building, which was rebuilt in 1764, as its parishioners are growing older and there is a struggle to find others to take up their roles.

The Church of England has said the process to close any church is long, which in St James’s case is in its early stages, with the first discussions held at a public meeting of the Parochial Church Council.

But a Mother’s Day event held in the village hall, which was warmly received and attended by many newcomers, showed the church how it could be a better venue for activities and services.

There is no parking at the church and the hall is modern and purpose built.

This is about finances, facilities and its people.

Rev Alison Richardson

Reverend Alison Richardson, who leads the church and its neighbouring church St Andrew’s in Blackhall, said: “It is a sad route, but one of the things which came out of the public meeting was it depends on how you define a church.

“People of God meet as a congregation, just as Jesus decreed was a church.

“A building is a container for its people.

“This is about finances, facilities and its people.”

She added a recent five-yearly check painted a “bleak picture” about the state of the building.