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Parishes to decide on merged services

PUBLISHED: 19:27 15 April 2008 | UPDATED: 10:50 08 July 2010

Three Wayland parishes are expected to reach a decision regarding controversial proposals to cut Sunday services in their communities.

Great Hockham, Merton and Thompson along with Breckles, Caston, Griston and Stow Bedon were invited by rector, the Rev Bob Nichols, to vote on plans to introduce a rotating system of Sunday worships.

Three Wayland parishes are expected to reach a decision regarding controversial proposals to cut Sunday services in their communities.

Great Hockham, Merton and Thompson along with Breckles, Caston, Griston and Stow Bedon were invited by rector, the Rev Bob Nichols, to vote on plans to introduce a rotating system of Sunday worships. Last year he introduced a trial where a joint service is held in a different village each Sunday, rather than separate services for separate parishes.

But last Saturday, he asked members of the seven congregations to decide whether they wanted to opt in.

Four communities have backed the plans, but Great Hockham, Merton and Thompson are yet to reach an agreement.

Tony Linge, lay reader emeritus and former churchwarden at Hockham said many elderly residents feared they could not attend a service, as they were unable to find transport.

“We can't say anything until a decision is made.

“He (Rev Nichols) told us if we can go to supermarket then we can go to church on a Sunday,” Mr Linge, said.

“There are people who would have to travel six or seven miles from their village to the church where the service would be held.

“People also fear that eventually he will close down all churches and keep the one in Caston where he lives. We might lose our church in the next three to four years, if we're not using it. He has brought in new members, but will be alienating the old congregation.”

Mr Nichols said he backed the idea of a united service because it would boost the number of churchgoers and encourage more people to take an active part in the congregation.

He also said an amendment had been added to initial proposals to provide extra services on top of the united Sunday worship as decided according to general wishes of the church council.

“I would like to allay people's fears about transport. There are good people in the congregation who have helped others to attend Sunday worship. As for the closure of churches, this is someone's conjecture.

“The proposals are for the sake of the greater good,” he explained.

“A united service would bring in more people than separate services. People will feel more confident in a service with 30 people than in one with just four or five,” he added.

“With a united service we have also been able to bring in a choir from all the parishes.”

He said around 36 people have attended united Sunday worship since Christmas.

“I'm trying to encourage people to think about other people rather than buildings.

“I am hoping to get a decision from the three parishes regarding united Sunday worship soon.”

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