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Skeffling Church to close by end of March
    By Nicki Jakeman  

A FINAL service will be held at St Helen’s Church in Skeffling at 10am on Sunday, March 1. Led by the Bishop of Hull, the Right Reverend Alison White, it will be the last opportunity to worship there before the church formally closes by the end of March.

In the short term, the ownership of the Grade 1 listed building will pass from the parish to the Diocese of York, which will then follow a statutory process of seeking suitable alternative uses for the building.

The small village of Skeffling has a population of approximately 150 people and church services at St Helen’s have continued to run on a monthly basis but have been poorly attended.

Church warden Ian Rutter told the Gazette how Easington’s All Saints Church took over responsibility of St Helen’s approximately 10 years ago and an appeal to the Diocese of York to take over the care of St Helen’s was made three years ago.

The reasons for the closure are a combination of the cost of bringing the church up to modern standards as it has no heating, electric or water facilities, combined with the high cost of maintenance, lack of income and a drop in church attendance.

The open churchyard will remain in the care of and be maintained by Easington Church.

Ian Rutter, church warden at Skeffling and Easington, said: “ It has had a steady decline. It’s nobody’s fault, you can’t lay blame at anybody’s door. It’s a developing situation which is being repeated across the country where isolated churches in very small communities are finding it impossible, if not difficult to survive.”

Lois Rutter, also a church warden at Skeffling and Easington, said: “It is sad because the church has served the community for hundreds of years. We have to recognise that we live in a different culture with changes and outlook, I look at it from that point of view. It doesn’t need to be the end of the road. Christians can meet anywhere and the village hall in Skeffling is a very good and well-run facility.”

Martin Sheppard, spokesman for the Diocese of York, said: “St Helen’s Church has served the village of Skeffling for over 500 years, but in recent decades local people have preferred to travel to other churches where they are part of a larger group and can worship in a building with better modern facilities.

“Some time ago the small congregation at St Helen’s agreed they were no longer in a position to maintain this Grade 1 Listed building, but it has taken just over two years to consult widely and resolve the legal and financial issues involved in closing a church.

“It is always sad to bring an end to centuries of worship in a building of this kind, and a process to assure its future in another role is now beginning, but the work of Christian service and witness continues in Skeffling based at the nearby Parish Church of All Saints, Easington.”

Following the service on Sunday, March 1 at 10am, there will be refreshments provided in the Village Hall. There will be a collection on the day for the upkeep of the churchyard.

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