South East Wales

All Saints Church, Maerdy campaigners hold last service

The final service has been held at a Rhondda church which parishioners had fought to keep open for the past year.

Friends of All Saints Church in Maerdy, where a protest sit-in was held last summer, have decided they cannot meet a £400,000 repair bill.

There was also concern after a report on the future of the Church in Wales recommended larger parishes.

The Church in Wales said it was sorry to hear the group was unable to raise enough money to save the building.

Prayers, readings and hymns were in Sunday evening's last service, which followed the decision to abandon the fight earlier this month.

'Very upsetting'

One of those behind the year-long campaign, retired secretary Barbara Daniel, said parishioners were saddened, but also very proud of what they had achieved.

The former All Saints church warden said: "It's very upsetting because we did hope that we could have refurbished it. But in the face of everything, and the church report, we knew that the church could never be reopened.

"We've had lot of support but this is it. We will have some readings, prayers and rousing hymns and tomorrow we will hand the keys of the church back to the [Church in Wales] property office in Llandaff."

Sunday's service - the first since Christmas - marked the end of a campaign which lasted more than a year.

'Stand idle'

In July 2011 protesters began a month-long sit in after what was due to be the final service because of the repairs needed to the building.

In August campaigners voted to buy it after the Church in Wales said it could sell the building for £1,000 provided it was kept as a place of worship. But last week they admitted defeat.

Image caption Parishioners joining in the final service at All Saints Church in Maerdy

Ms Daniel, a retired secretary at Chubb Fire who has worshipped at All Saints for almost 46 years, said she did not know what would happen to the building now.

"I don't suppose they will keep it because it will stand idle and decay. I should imagine they will try and sell it.

"It's such a shame because it's such a friendly church and we all care about each other. It was a hub for everyone in the community."

The Church in Wales said: "We are sorry to hear that the Friends of All Saints have decided that they are unable to raise enough money to save the church building but we think it is understandable, given the difficult economic times we are all facing.

"We would like to reassure everyone in the area that Maerdy is still cared for pastorally by the parish priest, and that Church in Wales ministry in the Rhondda generally remains very strong, served by 22 churches.

"We hope parishioners in Maerdy will now join others in worship nearby."

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