Urgent call to secure the future of landmark church

Special meetings to discuss securing the future of St Andrew’s, Kildwick, will take place next week and all parishioners have been invited.

Interim vicar Revd Julie Bacon has written on behalf of the PCC to all residents to highlight issues surrounding the landmark building which is to mark its 700th anniversary next year.

It is currently only open for worship on Sundays, and for other occasional services.

No major improvement work has taken place for 100 years and Revd Julie writes that must change, if the church is to survive and to flourish.

"Our worshipping congregation is now fairly small and ageing, with regular Sunday attendance numbering 30 to 40 people.

"On their own, they are unable to meet the costs and demands of caring for and maintaining the building. If they are required to continue to shoulder this responsibility alone, there is the very real possibility that it could close within a few years," she writes.

In her letter, Revd Julie asks people, whether they are members of the church or whether they just work or live in the village, what the church building means to them, and how they can become involved to secure its future.

The building is not just for the small congregation, and greater numbers often attend life events, such as baptisms, weddings and funerals.

"Kildwick Primary School holds services in church every half-term, which are attended by parents, grandparents and carers alongside children and staff.

"There are special services around Christmas and in Holy Week. We also welcome a steady trickle of visitors - many travelling on the neighbouring Leeds and Liverpool canal- who want to explore the historical and spiritual significance of Kildwick church,” writes Revd Julie.

And, she says it the building is to have a sustainable future,it will involve offering welcome and hospitality to villagers, as well as visitors and tourists.

"We aspire to have our beautiful building open daily and presented to show off its assets as well as possible, so that anyone who wishes to can avail themselves of the opportunity to enjoy its history, tranquillity and peace," she says.

The letter highlights 'serious deficiencies which need to be tackled’ including access for those with mobility issues, and the fact the church currently lacks toilets or basic catering facilities.

An inadequate Victorian heating system in the building means the church for most of the year is 'off-puttingly cold'.

There are also concerns about the church roof, which last had major work about a century ago.

Revd Bacon says addressing these deficiencies will cost money, and so the church will have to apply for grants, as well as raising funds itself.

"Both aspects require involvement, support and participation from the wider community," she says.

It is planned to gather all ideas and comments by the middle of November for a working group looking at the church's future.

Public meetings will take place at St Andrew’s on Tuesday, October 29, and on Thursday, October 31 at 7.30pm to 9pm. People can also email to: building4thefuture [at] kildwick.org.uk, or complete an online survey at: surveymonkey.co.uk/r/CS6NQKG

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