Worshippers, have your say on future of Grade I listed Wanstead church fearing closure

PUBLISHED: 10:45 04 July 2018

St Mary's church in Wanstead. Photo: Ken Mears

St Mary's church in Wanstead. Photo: Ken Mears


Worshippers attending an 18th century church in Wanstead - the borough’s only Grade I listed building - are being asked to share their thoughts on its future use should it close.

As The Recorder reported in May, dwindling congregation figures, high maintenance costs and funding changes have prompted Wanstead Parish to consider the prospect of closing the church of St Mary the Virgin, in Overton Drive.

A consultation document seen by The Recorder says: “It is the Parish’s intention to try to secure Anglican worship at St. Mary’s up to six times per year and also to continue to allow St. Mary’s to be used for the baptisms, weddings (by Special License) and funerals of long-standing members of our church family,” the document reads.

“It is not our intention that the building is spiritually deconsecrated.

But it also adds: “There are, however, no guarantees at this point and six services is not a given at this juncture.

“It is too soon to try to predict this.”

The document outlines five partnerships the parish has been exploring so far to keep the church open for Christian worship.

Among the remaining options are offering the church to either a local education provider; to a Redbridge charitable trust; or to the Churches Conservation Trust, a charity which protects churches deemed to be at risk.

It also lists 33 solutions suggested by church members - but the parish’s parochial church council (PCC) has found “no individual or combination of proposals” so far suggested “to be sufficient to address the problems outlined above”.

The church now asks members whether or not they would support the decision to close the church and, if so, how they might like to see the church used.

It also asks their thoughts on reducing the number of services; which services to prioritise; and how worshippers can be accommodated at Christ Church, in Wanstead Place.

Christ Church is also owned by the parish and has more than 300 worshippers per week.

The consultation ends on September 8 and the PCC decide whether to begin the formal process of closing St Mary’s on September 25.

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