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Robert Cutts
UK News

Parishioners paying to keep church open

All Saints in Graveney, Kent has been part of the village for more than 900 years but now, with a dwindling congregation of only seven and a deficit of funds, the congregation members are donating £100 each month to keep it open.

The village has a population of 490, according to the 2011 census, and its church has a weekly bill of £181, which keeps it open for weddings, funerals, christenings as well as Sunday services.

Parish council secretary and member of All Saints congregation, Janet Turner told Premier: "I've been at All Saints for nine and a half years. My daughter was married in the church, it's a lovely rural church and I fell in love with the church then and I'm just as in love with it now.

"It's a very special church, its Grade l listed, it was listed by English Heritage as being at risk but we have managed over the last six years to do an enormous amount of work to put it in very good physical condition. But the problem and the problem common to all rural churches, is that congregations are decreasing and people don't come to church anymore."

The Diocese of Canterbury said there were no plans to close the church but was seeking "creative ways" to combat dwindling congregations.

Church of England figures show attendances fell steadily across Britain's Anglican churches over the last decade, with just 1.18 million regular worshippers last year.

A spokesperson for the diocese said: "All Saints is a beautiful church with a small but committed congregation and there are no current plans to close it.

"But it is clear that many churches across the country are facing the challenge of sustainability, especially those with older buildings or smaller congregations."

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