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Sheffield church faces closure as congregation falls to 43

Vera Grand, Church Warden at St Matthias Church in Stocksbridge which is facing closure due to dwindling congregation and shortage of clergy

Vera Grand, Church Warden at St Matthias Church in Stocksbridge which is facing closure due to dwindling congregation and shortage of clergy

A beloved church in Stocksbridge is facing closure amid financial struggles and dwindling congregation numbers.

St Matthias Church on Manchester Road has been at the heart of the community for generations but now alternative uses are being sought in a last-ditch attempt to keep it open.

Vera Grand, who has served as a church warden for more than 20 years, said: “It’s a very large, Victorian building and it takes a lot of maintaining and financing. The congregation has declined over the last 20 years or so and we are struggling to reach our financial requirements.

“There are times of year when it’s packed - but they’re very few and far between. I think there is a risk the church could close but we are hoping to avoid that.”

The church has about 500 seats and history books record times when more than 1,000 people crammed into the building.

But the congregation today is made up of just 43 people.

St Matthias was built in 1890 in memory of Samuel Fox, the founder of Stocksbridge’s steelworks. It is full of artefacts relating to its history and Vera said she hoped somebody would come forward with an idea that will allow the building to remain part of community life.

A Diocese of Sheffield spokesman said: “Faced with the increasing costs of running such a large, historic building, the Parochial Church Council has been looking at options as to how the building can be used both by the church and the community. To consider closing any parish church is a significant decision both for the church and the community.

“It is a much-loved landmark and resource for the local community. Both the PCC and the Diocese are keen to see it being used for years to come, and welcome suggestions and proposals from the wider community.”

n Call church wardens Janet Howson on 0114 2883516 or Vera Grand on 0114 2883898 with suggestions.

 

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