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Church group encourages denominations to share spaces to tackle cost of living crisis

by Kelly Valencia

Churches of all denominations are being encouraged to join a new initiative to tackle poverty. 

The Churches Together Shire & Soke group has written to every church in the Northamptonshire, Peterborough and Rutland areas to urge them to "work more closely at this critical time".

The group, which is made up of Anglicans, Catholics, Methodists, among others, want church leaders of all denominations to share buildings to run lunch clubs and warm spaces. 

Rev Geoffrey Clarke, the United Reformed Church Moderator of the East Midlands Region and one of the group's presidents, says the idea emerged during discussions at a recent meeting. 

"The Roman Catholic bishop said to us 'Before we have the blessing and leave the building, we need to ask ourselves very seriously, what are we going to do as Christians in the face of the cost of living crisis?'…

Rev Geoffrey Clark told Premier, "If we're all asking that question together, why don't we try and deliver together? Both in terms of being united, which is a good principle, but equally, economically. Doesn't it make more sense to heat one building that we share for a piece of work or drawn on a wider pool of volunteers?" 

Following the meeting, the group's presidents sent a letter to nearby churches together with a cover letter to local MPs

The idea is for churches to help each other in reducing energy bills. 

Some of the practical steps would be heating a single space for warm spaces, coffee mornings and lunch clubs as well taking turns in celebrating church services in one place instead of several. 

The United Reformed Church moderator continued, "It's a time of budgetary prioritising, but it's also a time of saying, 'how can I ensure I'm still looking after others as well as myself?' because of course churches are in this too." 

"One of my colleague's current £4,000 pound a year (power and heating) contract is going up to £17,000. That kind of significant increase presents a real problem. 

"So, if their neighbourhood friends, churches could say, 'why don't heat the one place? Why do we need to heat three or four, even if we do different shifts within there?"   

Several churches have already joined the initiative. 

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