Church facing funding crisis

Crisis meeting. Pictured, from left, Sylvia Bell, retired church warden, Jean Ianson, treasurer, and Canon Peter Coates.
Crisis meeting. Pictured, from left, Sylvia Bell, retired church warden, Jean Ianson, treasurer, and Canon Peter Coates.

A church in Sausthorpe is in crisis – because in spite of being offered a £90,300 grant for repairs, church leaders cannot afford the insurance to sustain the building.

Time is running out for parishioners at St Andrew’s Church because there is just three weeks before they have to give a decision on whether to accept the sum from the Government’s Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme.

Twenty residents from the Sausthorpe area turned out on Monday to answer the question posed to them by team rector Peter Coates: “Can we afford to repair the church building?”

They met on a dark, wet evening in a chilly Sausthorpe Institute.

Among them was Ann Jackson, whose family farmed in Sausthorpe and who married at the church.

She said: “I’m here to see what I can do. I’d hate to see the church close.”

There to answer questions and support parishioners in their decision was Archdeacon Tim Barker, church buildings advisor Keith Halliday and historic churches advisor Matthew Godfrey.

Mr Coates explained the 19th century church was in serious need of repairs to the roof to stop water getting into the church building and making it unsafe to use.

He said: “I don’t want to be overdramatic but this is a crucial time for St Andrew’s.

“The cost of the necessary repairs is £115,000. With Matt’s help we have been able to secure a Government roof grant of £90,300.

“We are confident of raising the rest of the money, but the problem lies in that to accept the grant we need to commit for 10 years that we can pay building insurance so if disaster struck the church can be rebuilt or the money refunded to the funders.

“This would cost around £3,000 a year.”

Treasurer Jean Ianson said the predicted income from collections at services was £600.

The Archdeacon said: “The last thing we want to see is St Andrew’s closed. We are so near and have an amazing grant but can’t risk it if we cannot guarantee the insurance premium over 10 years.

“It’s a heartbreaking prospect.”

Mr Halliday said: “We don’t want to say the church is in danger of closing. If we can get an extension on the deadline there’s time for another meeting to come up with ideas.”

After a short break for parishioners to discuss whether they wanted to go forward, Mrs Ianson said one person at the meeting had donated £500 for the first year’s insurance.

Another person suggested maybe there were 30 people willing to give £10 a month.

The next meeting was arranged for Monday, October 26.

A page for donations to St Andrew’s Church, Sausthorpe, can be found at www.
justgiving.com by searching for Sausthorpe.