An iconic church in Nuneaton is being forced to close because it is “financially unsustainable”.
The Diocese of Coventry has confirmed to CoventryLive that, with a “heavy heart”, it has decided to close St Mary & St John Church in Camp Hill.
It has stood at the top of the hill in Camp Hill for more than half a century but, due to cash woes, it looks set to host its final service in the New Year.
The Diocese of Coventry says that there will be a formal consultation period, which is due to start soon.
A post made by the church on Facebook broke the news, which has caused upset in the community.
It read: “We are deeply sorry to announce St Mary and St John, Camp Hill, be closing its doors for the final time.
“This will likely be on Sunday, January 31, on the Feast of Presentation of the Lord (Candlemas). This is due to the Nuneaton deanery being unable to afford to fund a vicar at Camp Hill, this combined with unsuccessful attempts to find a vicar has left us with no other option but to close.”
CoventryLive contacted the Church of England and a statement has been provided.
A spokesperson in the Diocese of Coventry said: “The parish of Camp Hill has been without a vicar for the past few years. Although the parish has been well-served by local clergy, all attempts to recruit a new minister have been unsuccessful.
“A recent meeting of the Parochial Church Council considered the pastoral care of the small congregation at St Mary and St John’s Church.
“The council agreed that the congregation could be invited to worship at the nearby Abbey Church, where their former curate is now the vicar.
“With a heavy heart, they also agreed that the ongoing ministry of the church was financially unsustainable.
“The closure of any church building requires a formal process which includes a period of consultation with all interested parties. This formal process has not yet begun, but it is likely to start in the near future.”
According to the Cedar Road-based church’s website, the church was the vision of a then young curate called Dennis Sneath in 1953, who saw the potential in the new and ever expanding Camp Hill estate.
A building was designed for both worshipping God and for the community to use for social events. During the building’s construction, the faithful people of the estate gathered together in the builders’ hut every Sunday to celebrate mass, and on May 8, 1954, the dual-purpose hall was opened.
This was only supposed to be used temporarily because the intention was to build a parish church, so from then on Father Dennis and the church people went out every Sunday afternoon to ask the people of the estate to purchase bricks to build the church.
After 12 years the hard work finally paid off and on August 27, 1966, the foundation stone of the church was consecrated by the assistant Bishop of Coventry, the Right Reverend J McKie.
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From then on the major building work of the church began, with fixtures and fitting being donated to the church. The Font was given by a stone mason in the parish, the pulpit was given by a carpenter in the town and the organ was given by Burns & Son.
After 14 long years of hard work, Fr Dennis’ vision was complete, and on September 10, 1967, the church and furnishings was consecrated.
From then on the church grew into the community, hosting Sunday school, women‘s Guild, Youth Club, Brownies, Guides, social evenings, dances and fundraising events.
But, following the decision, the building and the memories of generations look set to be confined to the history books.
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