One of Morley’s most distinguished churches is set to close forever next month after serving the community for more than a century.
All Saints Parish Church in Churwell will celebrate its final service on May 10, bringing to an end 114 years worth of history.
The church is one of many being shut down by the Church of England across the country, as it grapples with the challenges of dwindling attendances to traditional Sunday services.
TheRev Mike Godfrey, who has been vicar at both All Saints and St Peter’s for four-and-a-half years, said: “Everybody’s very sad. In 114 years some incredible things have happened here.
“Thousands have had their lives influenced by the church, whether in a romantic way with a wedding, or in hard moments like a funeral.
“Quite clearly there’s a lot of upset, but also there’s a lot of realism as we recognise things can’t go on as they are. There are positives and good things will come out of this as we look to re-energise as a community. It’s not all doom and gloom.
“Enormous credit must go to a handful of people who have done some amazing work in keeping the church running and without them the church would have shut years ago.”
Groups which use the church community hall will be able to continue at their current base until July, whereupon it is expected that they too will move to St Peter’s Community Hall.
Parishioner Joyce Sanders said that situation was “worrying”.
“You wonder what will happen to the community groups that use the hall,” she said.
“It’s sad. It’s just that no-one’s going to church anymore. “The Church of England just looks at the congregation numbers and unfortunately they have to be brutal.”
The future of the church building itself is now shrouded in uncertainty with no prospective buyers having come forward as yet.
The Archdeacon of Leeds, the Venerable Paul Hooper, said: “There’s obviously sadness when a church closes, and All Saints has been of service to many local people over the years.
“However, for one parish to continue maintaining two church buildings (which are half a mile from each other), a church hall and a churchyard is impractical. By pooling resources and bringing congregations and groups together we believe the church will be able to serve the people of Morley and Churwell more effectively, and we’re heartened by the local generosity of spirit towards this move.
“After All Saints closes, there will still be three Anglican churches serving the whole of the Morley community, so we remain completely committed to the town.”
An open afternoon will be held on Saturday May 9 where parishioners and residents will be able to drop by the church for a cup of tea and observe a historical display on the church’s past. This event last from 2 - 4.30pm.