Crisis meeting over future of Kelbrook church

St Mary's Church, Kelbrook.
St Mary's Church, Kelbrook.

The future of a West Craven church will be debated at a meeting next week.

Kelbrook’s Parochial Church Council will meet on Monday night to discuss the future of St Mary’s Church after three leading roles became vacant.

All possibilities will be on the table at the meeting.

And that will include closure of the church, after the church’s warden and secretary stood down recently due to other commitments and St Mary’s reader emigrated in December.

The departure of people from the three key roles, coupled with a low weekly congregation number of between 12 and 15 people, has left the church in a difficult position, according to priest in charge the Rev. Hugh Fielden.

Mr Fielden, who’s ministry also includes All Saints’ Church, Earby, is positive St Mary’s, in the heart of Kelbrook, will not have to close but admitted something has to be done to secure its long-term viability.

Mr Fielden took the opportunity to quash any rumour of this being a Bradford Diocese decision to close the church on financial grounds.

He said: “The Kelbrook PCC has an extraordinary meeting next week to consider the future of St Mary’s Church.

“We are struggling because two long-standing officers of the PCC have to step down for work and family reasons and we don’t have anyone to take their places in the leadership team.

“The PCC has already approached members of the congregation to ask for prayers and more support in running the church.

“We are meeting to discuss the way forward in the hope we can find ways to encourage more people to get involved.

“We will be inviting everyone in the parish to an open meeting after Easter to share our concerns and hopes, and to look for practical offers of support.

“We are here to help local people find God and depend entirely on local people to continue this crucial part of community life.”

The Diocese of Bradford has offered words of support for the parish, saying it too is hopeful on the future of St Mary’s, which was built in 1839 and can hold up to 120 worshippers.

The Archdeacon of Craven, the Ven. Paul Slater, said: “While it’s too early to say what the future will be for St Mary’s, I’m optimistic as we have been in this position before and been able to find officers. I’ll be meeting with the PCC members shortly with the aim of finding a way forward.”