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Rural churches facing difficulties
A STARK warning has been sounded about the difficulties facing a group of village churches in a remote part of North Yorkshire.
Signpost, the parish magazine for Lastingham, Hutton-le-Hole, Cropton, Appleton-Le-Moors, Cawthorne, Hartoft, and Rosedale and Spaunton, spells out the problems in the hope that parishioners can work together to address them.
It says Lastingham currently has no secretary for its Parochial Church Council (PCC) and its churchyard has not been mown this year – except by sheep.
Cropton has no PCC secretary either, but also lacks churchwardens, while Rosedale has been unable to find a replacement PCC treasurer.
The article said there was a particular local problem, with a total population of only 1,200 for five church buildings and very few young families, but said there is also a nationwide problem in finding clergy to take up posts.
“Kirkbymoorside waited three years to get its new vicar. But should we be surprised? The increasing amount of work required of the clergy, and the difficulties under which they work, must have doubled or trebled within 30 years. Also, their status has fallen, and in some situations nowadays they are openly persecuted.”
It said there was a shortage of funds to pay for clergy within the diocese and the future of the vicarage could not be guaranteed. However, parishioners would have a legal right to be consulted on this matter, as a parsonage would normally have been set up by the local people for the use of their priest, as a centre for ministry and in some cases for use by the community.
On a more positive note, the magazine said a new lighting scheme had been designed for Lastingham Church and a “ministry to pilgrims” was being developed in consort with other churches, with part of the vicarage to be used as a centre for ministry.
The Ministry of the Laity was also being developed, which would include opening and closing the church, taking PCC minutes, leading a service of morning or evening prayer and taking Holy Communion to the housebound.