ABOUT forty people attended the meeting recently that was held to come to a decision regarding the future of the St Torney’s Church, North Hill.
The Archdeacon of Bodmin, Audrey Elkington, was also there. Employing a priest costs the Diocese roughly £55,000 per year.
This cost, called MMF contribution, is divided amongst the five churches in the benefice so the current amount due by St Torney’s Church is £11,000.
For many years now the small handful of people regularly attending the church services has dwindled so low that St Torney’s has not been able to pay its share of the MMF cost and it has been subsidised by the Diocese. Some of the community, who do not attend services regularly, have for many years offered their support and answered calls for help with the cost of repairs, and to keep the building in good condition, as well as can be, as the Diocese only supports the cost of employing a priest.
Those in attendance shared the values of the building, history, beauty and how it is an important part of their lives, and those of their children and families.
Questions were asked about financial reserves previously held by the parochial church council with the main concern being that St Torney’s had assets of land and property that may have generated an income and property that may have allowed the church to become self-sufficient. These assets were sold off and although the proceeds were distributed within the benefice, none were returned to North Hill directly. The question asked if those at the meeting would allow for some of their donations to be used for MMF fees if the Diocese would make a compromise by reducing their fees. This would not only benefit the church but also the Diocese, as when the church closes the insurance costs — amounting to £4,000 — would have been paid by the Diocese and there would be no contribution at all to the £114,000 MMF fees.
The Archdeacon felt that the Diocese had already been very generous by subsidising the MMF contribution for many years and further considerations would not be made. She asked if anyone would be interested in forming a ‘Trust’ to take on the financial responsibility for the Grade 1 listed building. No one came forward.
The church will close if the MMF contribution cannot be paid. It is difficult for the non-worshipping community to justify an expense of £11,000 or more per year, or a very small number of services being attended by even smaller congregations — currently subsidised by the Diocese to £7,500 — but agreeing to these costs on setting up a trust may be the only option.
The meeting ended without a solution being found and the PCC will consider the next steps to be taken at the next meeting.