PARISHIONERS were “distressed and angry” that there was no reprieve for a Bangor church after 150 years of worship.
A group of parishioners said St Mary’s, which held its last service on Sunday, was financially viable and claimed the case put to the Right Reverend Andrew John, Bishop of Bangor, in a meeting had been ignored
In a statement, they said: “The church warden and parishioners have repeatedly requested that the bishop, having closed one church in Bangor already (st David’s), allow St Mary’s a three year reprieve from closure.
“He has been made aware of the church’s important role today in the lives of people who attend for worship, community and social activities and of the commitment from the congregation to look to generate energy and growth in the future.”
They added that while a recent archedeacon’s report identified £5,000 was needed for maintenance, the church had more than £40,00 in reserve.
The said the bishop told them the cost of providing clergy for services was the main reason for the closure.
They added: “However this argument does not seem to apply to the cathedral where their Maundy Thursday service had five ordained clergy for a congregation of 14 people.”
The worshippers added that average Sunday attendance was more than 50 between three services and midweek worship,Lenten and Harvest courses had a “committed following over many years”.
“The loss to the local community is immeasurable and the congregation’s query to the Bishop, as to where they can now go to worship together, has remained unanswered.
“Moreover the question must be asked, has the Bishop lost all faith in the future of worship and Christian fellowship in a city of over 14,000 resident population as he closes the second church in Bangor this year?”
The bishop acknowledged St Mary’s parishoners’ “excellent work” , and said he “understood the pain and disapointment” they felt about the clocure.
He added: “These decisions are never taken lightly and they are always taken with a view to looking to the futgure.
“The reality of worhsip in Bangor is that we have too many buildings which are too expensive for the Church in Wales to maintain.”
He added that all St Mary;s worshippers were valued anf encouraged to attended one of the four churches in the city.