After 16 months we are delighted to announce that regular services will be commencing on Sunday 15th August at 10am. Services will be held on the 3rd Sunday of every month.
This is, however, a bittersweet announcement. The pandemic has had a huge effect on the finances of the parish and on the congregation. As with all churches and chapels, St Thomas’ is entirely funded by the efforts of the congregation. During the Pandemic income has fallen to almost nothing. The small sums raised from holding Weddings, Funerals and Baptisms has completely evaporated. Along with this several members of the congregation are no longer able to take an active part in the life of the parish, due to ill health.
All of these factors boil down to an uncertain future for the church. As the finances stand the Church will have to close in January 2022. It is with great sadness that we make this announcement. St Thomas’ has never been a wealthy parish, always having a hand to mouth existence. Over the last 20 years a small congregation, of around 8 people, has kept the Church plodding along. With dwindling numbers, the Pandemic has been the final straw.
We will be looking into all possible options before any decision is taken to close the church. In order to keep the church running, until Christmas, we are trying to raise money to help pay the essential bills, such as power, insurance and water rates.
During 2020 it still cost £4962 to run the Church. However, the income was only £2266. Clearly this is an unsustainable situation.
Many will say that funding should be given by Government, Council or the central church. Unfortunately, grants are only available for projects, such as building or renovations. Grants are not available for day to day running costs of the building.
We also have to consider the falling congregation numbers. With a congregation of 9, on a good day, having a huge building can no longer be justified. Unfortunately, the state and size of the building does not readily lend itself to other community uses. We understand that many people will be disappointed to lose the church building. It will break the hearts of the congregation to close the doors for the last time. However, a small congregation can no longer bear the burden of funding and maintaining a church that so few want to use.
We hope to be able to hold a huge Christmas Service. This will be a celebration of the church in Stanley Crook. In Stanley, Sunniside and Billy Row there were 8 churches and chapels. If St Thomas’ closes there will be none! We will be looking at all options and closure will be the final option. Unfortunately, time is now running out for the Church on the hill.
If you would like to help support the Church make it to Christmas we would be grateful for any donations.
On country mornings sharp and clear
The penitent in faith draw near
And kneeling here below
Partake the heavenly banquet spread
Of sacramental Wine and Bread
And Jesus' presence know.
And must that plaintive bell in vain
Plead loud along the dripping lane?
And must the building fall?
Not while we love the church and live
And of our charity will give
Our much, our more, our all.
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