Warning that St Mark’s Church, Newport could close

South Wales Argus: UNDER THREAT: The Reverend Andrew Willie of St Mark’s Church in Newport UNDER THREAT: The Reverend Andrew Willie of St Mark’s Church in Newport

THE iconic St Mark’s Church in the heart of Newport could close due to a drop in congregation and funding.

The church council have taken the unusual step of writing to the congregation, warning of the financial pressures the church currently faces, including the fact it is highly unlikely another vicar will replace the current vicar when he retires next year.

The Reverend Andrew Willie will reach retirement age, 70, early next year.

The church is receiving just half the amount it was getting in collections four years ago. Where they once received around £700 a week in collections, the church now gets just £350.

Running and maintaining the building, which was built in 1874, plus the cost of contributions to the diocese (Parish Share) are financially ruining the church.

In the past year, the church has paid £11,500 in repairs, £3,000 for light and heating, £3,000 for insurance and £30,000 to the diocese for the Parish Share.

The church has also struggled with vandalism in the past few years, with an arson attempt and 100-year-old paving stones being stolen last year.

Reverend Willie said: "While it is possible I may be able to carry on with church duties for a few months after retirement age, the Church in Wales is unlikely to want me to stay on past my retirement.

"There is a shortage of incumbent, full-time vicars in the church as it is, so services and pastoral care will probably fall to part-time pastors.

"Similarly, churches everywhere are struggling financially, and the city is over-populated in terms of the amount of Church in Wales churches in Newport.

"On top of all that, the building costs a fortune to maintain. It’s a grade two listed building, so while CADW can tell us not to do any building on the site, we don’t actually receive any funding from them.

"If we have a series of winters as bad as the last few, the church will have to close."

To raise money and boost the congregation, the church is holding a Gift Day and masses on September 26, from 8am to 3.30pm, followed by a service of healing at 7pm.

The Reverend hopes younger people interested in becoming youth workers will come along and volunteer for a new youth team.

Comments (4)

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9:25pm Mon 17 Sep 12

Robodad says...

Oh well, just goes to show that there is not much call (or use) for the church in modern society. Goodbye, move over and lets build some houses on the site.
Oh well, just goes to show that there is not much call (or use) for the church in modern society. Goodbye, move over and lets build some houses on the site. Robodad

12:52pm Tue 18 Sep 12

Katie Re-Registered says...

It could be turned into a centre/meeting place for LGBTQ people in order to help us to politically organise more against the external threats that we are coming up against from certain sectors of society. At the moment there isn't anything like that in Newport and - if coupled with counselling sessions for thsoe people who feel they would benefit from it - it could help to empower LGBTQ people.
It could be turned into a centre/meeting place for LGBTQ people in order to help us to politically organise more against the external threats that we are coming up against from certain sectors of society. At the moment there isn't anything like that in Newport and - if coupled with counselling sessions for thsoe people who feel they would benefit from it - it could help to empower LGBTQ people. Katie Re-Registered

12:55pm Tue 18 Sep 12

Katie Re-Registered says...

It could also be used by groups to discuss feminism and gender politics. Compared to other fairly nearby places like Cardiff and Bristol, I don't think that Newport has a women's group yet so there's a dearth of activity with regard to such issues locally.
It could also be used by groups to discuss feminism and gender politics. Compared to other fairly nearby places like Cardiff and Bristol, I don't think that Newport has a women's group yet so there's a dearth of activity with regard to such issues locally. Katie Re-Registered

9:46pm Tue 18 Sep 12

BowTieMan says...

Robodad appears to be a bit out of touch with what the church is up to in modern society, or perhaps he has been listening too much to certain politically correct politicians. At present, the church is showing signs of growth, is running food banks across the city to provide emergency help for those who have fallen out of the benefits system, providing emergency shelter for homeless people during the winter and helping to keep our city centre safe through Street Pastors. Unfortunately, listed monuments aren't much help for these activities.
Robodad appears to be a bit out of touch with what the church is up to in modern society, or perhaps he has been listening too much to certain politically correct politicians. At present, the church is showing signs of growth, is running food banks across the city to provide emergency help for those who have fallen out of the benefits system, providing emergency shelter for homeless people during the winter and helping to keep our city centre safe through Street Pastors. Unfortunately, listed monuments aren't much help for these activities. BowTieMan

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