THE politics of the Church of England are probably not top of mind for many people. Nor, probably, is the village church.

Taking advantage of this, the General Synod seems to have decided that the days of the village church are over.

As I understand it, the GS2222 consultation paper seeks to facilitate the closure of maybe hundreds of churches. To do this it plans to transfer the power to keep a church open or close it from the local churches to the Dioceses. 

To close a church now would be difficult, if not impossible, without the consent of the local community, and churchwardens. 

If the GS2222 recommendations go through, the Diocese could have the power to close any church deemed superfluous, and the appeal system will be minimised.

The people who will be affected by this, namely the local communities, have not been consulted. The opinion of local churchwardens and members of the parochial church councils has not been asked. This ‘plan’ comes from the top.

The GS2222 paper is dense and couched in church jargon making it hard for lay people to understand. It implies that it costs too much to keep these small churches going. Costs who too much? Every parish pays its own share.

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This proposed policy is of huge concern to villages who now fear that their church can be closed regardless of their own views. It implies that keeping these often-listed buildings in repair is not sustainable. But it is. 

Village churches, for the most part, make no financial demands on the dioceses (the congregation and church supporters pay the diocese, often over the odds, for the services of their priest and they pay for the repair, maintenance and improvements of the building as they have done for many years). 

Yes, it’s hard work for the dedicated churchwardens and the church councils, but local determination to keep their churches open and welcoming is unfailing.

The idea that closing some hundreds of small churches will somehow encourage a more vibrant and inclusive Christian community and spread the Christian message more effectively seems misguided, to say the least.