Friday 28th April 2017.
PC: Olivia Frost
The resignation of Rector Margaret Dean and Associate priest Reverent Tim Dean comes two months after the announcement of the upcoming alignment of church parishes. Rector Dean has been leading rector of four churches for the past ten years; St. Mary’s in Reepham, St. Andrew’s in Wood Dalling, St. Peter and Paul in Salle and St. Andrew’s in Thurning. Since the Church of England’s recognition that churches have a high upkeep with a national lack of funding, cuts have been made, including in north Norfolk. This has made rector Dean responsible for 11 churches instead of the original four she was rector of. After the busy schedule and stress resulted in the Dean family retiring, it begs the question is this the end for our local churches? Are these cuts going to make other reverends quit and maybe even, small churches closing for good?
The cuts involve a significant reduction in the funding given to churches and the hiring of reverends and priests. St. Peter and Paul’s church in Salle had to cancel all their services in January earlier this year. Salle is not the only village feeling the effects of the lack of funding from the Church of England. Churchwarden of St, Andrew’s in Wood Dalling, Aider Fisher, has expressed her concerns about the survival of St. Andrews since the cuts. During an interview earlier this week, Aider said: “our church services are going to be drastically cut. We can’t run Sunday service at the moment as theirs a hole in the church’s roof. There is no spare money left from the central funding scheme because of the cost cut. We’re trying to collect money locally, but at this rate, it looks like we might have to close for a significant amount of time”.
Aider has been churchwarden for over 20 years, and her life has been invested in her work for the church. If the church can’t find enough money, the effects will mean a drastic life change for Aider and other elder members of the village of Wood Dalling. Aider added to her previous comments saying: “I know we only have a congregation of four but we do have a good turnout for our events in the summer. They didn’t have to make our vicar unemployed. No wonder Margaret has resigned, it’s a lot of work leading 11 services. That’s at least six services she’d had to run in one day!”.
Even though the tradition of going to church every Sunday has declined drastically over the years in thousands of families across the UK, the church is still a key part of small villages such as Salle and Wood Dalling. If more reactors are made redundant or retire, local churches might call for volunteers which may result in the final closing of these churches if permeant roles can’t be filled.