FOLLOWING warnings from the former Archbishop of Canterbury that the Church of England was ‘One generation away from extinction,’ this week the Observer looks at how the church is faring in the Midhurst and Petworth area.
The Reverend Derek Welsman is the rural dean for Midhurst and said the Church should not undervalue, or forget, about those who do attend regularly.
“There seems to be an obsession with people missing from the Church but a lot of people do go often - I have had people who have been coming to St Mary’s for 50 years,” Rev Welsman said.
“If young people don’t want to go to Church, then they don’t want to go to Church.
“Who’s to say that things won’t change and people will decide to get involved in religion over the course of their life?
“I do not want to undervalue those people who do attend the church.
“We do a lot of work with the schools in the area, and have a Messy Church club after school where we provide children with a meal, squash, games and craft activities.
“There are two family services a month here and many do not realise how much engagement we have with young people.
“It can be hard these days - parents may work all week and only have a Sunday off to catch up on things and go out.
“Teenagers have a lot of pressure, studying for ALevels and GCSEs so we understand they lead busy lives, and want to socialise in between their studies.
“A lot of young people in this area may move away, then come back to St Mary’s to get married, which is certainly a positive thing.”
For the full Behind the Headlines feature, see this week’s Observer, out December 5.