Churches’ valuable role at heart of community

From: Keith Jowett, Woodland Rise, Silkstone Common, Barnsley.

your correspondent, Philip Smith (Yorkshire Post, March 1) criticises Christian churches for spending millions of pounds in maintaining hundreds of buildings which have only a dozen or so attending. He suggests that these monetary resources should be redistributed to the poor.

Unlike the situation in France, where the state pays for the maintenance of churches, religious buildings in Britain 
are maintained by the dedicated giving of their members.

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Admittedly, and regrettably, membership is often small, but money spent on building maintenance is beneficial to a far wider clientele than just the members themselves.

In many small communities the presence of a church offers what is often the sole place of meeting for community groups on a regular basis and to meet emergencies. Witness the use of churches as emergency shelters during the recent flooding in parts of England.

In my own village there is no village hall, and the Methodist church hall offers a space for 11 different organisations to meet each week.

These range from mother and toddlers’ groups, through to keep fit and musical groups 
to a club for the over-60 age group.

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Additionally the premises are hired for children’s parties, by councillors for their surgeries 
and for use as a polling station.

We have a membership 
of only 15, but are happy to administer and maintain 
our premises for the benefit 
of the whole community, 
who in return contribute 
rent income to aid maintenance costs.

Many rural communities like our own would suffer if the church were to close.