Vicar prays for money to save her church

Harvest Festival is traditionally the time of the year when the rich give to the poor.And as one north Suffolk church yesterday celebrated the autumnal service, the message was given to parishioners loud and clear - if you don't provide for us now, your church will have to close.

Harvest Festival is traditionally the time of the year when the rich give to the poor.

And as one north Suffolk church yesterday celebrated the autumnal service, the message was given to parishioners loud and clear - if you don't provide for us now, your church will have to close.

The Rev Suzie Ellis, vicar of Worlingham, near Beccles, yesterday issued a dire warning to her community that her church was losing £600 a week, and with assets exhausted it

may soon not be able to continue.

“People are under the impression the Church of England is very rich,” she said. “But this is a crisis and the Church cannot afford to bail us out.

“We're not making anywhere near enough money to pay for essential upkeep - and we are asking people here to help us out.

Most Read

“I'm asking the community not to just stand by, but to give us the equivalent of less than the price of a Sunday newspaper a month to keep the church going.”

Ms Ellis said the cost of keeping the church open each year was £36,000, with a further £16,000 needed for the linked churches at North Cove and Barnby.

But collections at the three churches totalled less than £13,000 last year, with only a further £6,000 generated from wedding and funeral fees.

“Our sums simply don't add up and anyone can see this represents a huge problem,” she said.

Until recently, the parish was surviving off generous legacies, but these have now run out - and with nothing left in the reserve, the churches may have to close.

Ms Ellis will lead a gift day on Saturday, receiving donations outside the village's Spar shop, but said she wanted all 3,700 adults in the three villages each to contribute £13 a year.

She said: “Even for villagers who are not regular worshippers, many come into the church for quiet contemplation, attend weddings and funerals, and send children to the C of E school.

“Everyone uses, or at least admires, the church - I hope they will realise the important contribution it plays in this community before it is too late.”

Yesterday, Paul Mitchell, treasurer of Worlingham parochial church council, said: “While the vicar is in situ, we are supported by the diocese and they will accept what we can muster.

“But if the vicar is moved on, we won't have a new vicar and the church would close.”