Parishioners have been asked for the first time about a the proposed splitting of the united benefice of Lynchmere and Camelsdale churches.
The Rev David Talks and the two church wardens Paul Bailey and Christian Heath outlined the plans and answered questions to a large congregation on Sunday at St Peter’s.
The move is being proposed by Mr Talks, because of a severe financial shortfall and the chronic lack of people properly equipped to lead, preach and perform other roles in the churches.
Mr Bailey said the two churches had been separate entities with their own vicars, vicarages, church wardens and finances.
In the 1930’s the Pratt-Barlow family had endowed both churches with a considerable amount of money which St Paul’s in Camelsdale spent while St Peter’s invested it to pay for the future vicar’s stipends – but not all other expenses such as pensions, housing upkeep and insurance.
In the 1980’s the church commissioners took over the trust capital from Lynchmere, returning only the necessary income for the vicar’s salary.
When the parishes were combined, Lynchmere’s vicarage was sold, the greater part of the sale going to the diocese, and leaving only and more modern vicarage at Camelsdale.
Christina Heath explained the problem of declining congregations, the annual financial shortfall of around £10,000 being taken from dwindling reserves, and the lack of people to lead.
Mr Talks said he wanted ‘to ensure the spiritual and financial continuation of both churches’. He wanted to give ‘a future and a hope to both congregations’ which would not happen if the united benefice remained.
Moving Camelsdale to Guildford diocese to join with St Stephens in Shottermill would reinvigorate the church with new church workers, he claimed.
Lynchmere would have a half-time vicar working Sunday and two other days.