Regardless of who you are or what your religious persuasion is? Whenever we see a church closing down, or see one all boarded up, there is a tinge of sadness, and we all begin to wonder, how could it of closed? Churches have lots of money? Shouldn’t be allowed? I could go on for ever with the different things we think, but usually it boils down to all but one single reason as to why our local churches close? It’s because we don’t bother going anymore! Really is that simple an answer.
Through my job as a funeral director I get to visit, many different churches throughout my region, all different faiths as well as different types of churches, be it a Catholic or Church of England Church, a Methodist or Baptist Church, a Jehovah’s Witness or Evangelical Church, all are important to the parishioners that use them and the area’s they are in, again regardless of what you think of religion, Churches provide people with hope, with a safe place to congregate and meet new people, a place where people feel important, a place where people can relax and allow whatever is weighing them down mentally and emotionally can be released, without prejudice are question, Churches are often beautiful old building’s steeped in history, stunning features inside and out, peaceful and cleansing spaces, but many are new buildings starting their new journey hopefully for many years to come.
I personally cannot help looking at churches when I see them, I find them amazing, and marveling at the architecture is always a plus, especially when I’m conducting a funeral at a church, gives me a short space of time to look around, read the gravestones, look at the pictures etc. As most of do when we enter a church we enjoy what we see, and feel a kind of safety net around us immediately on entering, the volunteers in churches 99% of the time are lovely people always willing to help, and so calm and friendly again gives you a nice sense of belonging, Clergy in churches the majority of the time are some of the nicest people you will meet, friendly, honest and sincere and again going out of their way to help you and assist, and again I know there are bad apples in the clergy, those who make the church experience a poor one, but I feel I’m safe to say the good massively outweighs the bad.
When I see churches closed and boarded up, I find it saddening to see just how low an area’s religious prowess has gone! Lets not beat about the bush here, Churches close because we don’t go really is that simple, the amount of time I see posts on social media from people disgusted that a church has closed down, then recalling that they had their communion in that church 50 years ago? or was married in that church 25 years ago, or their children or grandchildren were baptized their back in the day! Do people honestly think a church can remain open when the last time you visited was 50 years ago? or 25 years ago? Who pays for the church to continue running, whilst waiting for the day you might pop in again? simple fact is if we all went to church regular, churches would not close down, but sadly we don’t anymore we are simply to busy with life, to be bothered to attend, or we simply don’t believe in what the church represents to remotely consider going! I find this answer intriguing as I’ve heard it many times people say to me at funerals “Only here because it’s a funeral, I don’t believe in all this!” yet these are the same people that will go out and buy a newspaper? which is even less believable than what a church tells you, yet the same people who disregard religion buy The Sun or Express Newspapers each day, or sit and listen to the BBC news, I find it staggering.
Truth of the matter is we are all to blame for churches closing down, it is not the fault of the church itself not the minister who preaches there, the blame lies firmly with us who don’t go enough, that is the reason we see our beloved churches vanishing from our towns, disappearing from our skylines, and no longer being local focal points, in my home town of Leigh in Greater Manchester, I’ve seen three prominent churches close down XII Apostles and Our Lady of the Rosary both Catholic Churches as well as St Thomas’s a very large C of E Church, now sit empty, boarded up rotting away, no more will the sound of sermons echo around the walls, or the sound of choirs singing out loud, or the eerie moments of silence as one reflects, these buildings should not be closed, but as time moves on and our elderly sadly succumb to age, these are the last of their generations who have made churches a part of their lives, as these people sadly pass away, their seats on the pews are not being filled by anybody, thus attendances are reducing, financially crippling the church and forcing it into closure. I spoke with a C of E minister only a week or so ago locally, who openly said he fears for his churches future, as attendances are plummeting, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, and obviously now the pandemic has plunged the fate of many churches even further into desperation, it is a sad reflection of the world we live in.
I asked Reverend Kevin Crinks minister at St Mary the Virgin Church (Leigh Parish) three simple questions that I was intrigued about, below are those questions and Reverend Crink’s honest answers.
What do you think the church brings to the community? The church provides a focal point for a community in times of celebration as well as sadness. We gather as a town or village and laugh, cry, mourn and sing, and above all else we pray TOGETHER.
Why is it important to attend church? Attending church is about learning, about looking outside of ourselves and seeing more clearly our interconnectedness with fellow human beings and the wider creation. We respond to the prompting of the spirit of god and make a difference to our world.
What impact do you feel closing a church has on the community? The loss of a building is the loss of memories, of rites of passage and life’s celebrations. How can we avoid this? Attend and support, don’t leave it to others to keep the roof on!
In a nutshell churches cannot survive on you having a communion there when you was a child and never going again. It won’t remain open if the only time you walk through the doors is to attend a baptism, wedding or funeral! It will end its days boarded up or demolished if you look at a churches position in the community as a given and will always manage! Simple fact is it won’t it needs us going through the doors more often, volunteer to help the many amazing things churches do for the communities, donate when you can, you’d be amazed at how far the church can stretch your donation and what good use it goes to. Don’t take you local church for granted support it where you can, get involved as often as possible, promote your local church. Our children are the generation now being tasked to save the life of the church, without active participation from our children moving forward, the church simply will not survive. Take care of yourselves Paul 10.05.2021