Parish ‘could lose identity’ after proposal is made

THE Bishop of Chichester has made an amended proposal to transfer the parish of Heene and close St Botolph’s Church.

St Botolphs Church faces the threat of closure
St Botolphs Church faces the threat of closure

If green lit the parish would be transferred to Worthing St Matthew to create The Parish of Worthing St Matthew.

Choir master Neil Turner has held the position since 1986 and fears for the future of the choir if the church, located in Lansdowne Road, is closed.

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He said: “We run a very active music department with an all-age mixed choir. It’s a means of outreach in the community. We help to train up organists, which is something of a rarity in the church.

“I don’t know what would happen to the choir and that’s a matter of concern not only to choir members but family members involved with the choir. I doubt whether I would be able to continue to help children for scholarships at Westminster Abbey or anywhere else really.

“The problem is you can’t just replant a whole community into another place when it’s a question of a church which has all its own ways of doing things.

“There would be no reference to Heene in the name at all, which considering Heene appears in the Domesday Book is a bad thing in itself, completely bulldozing hundreds of years of history.”

Rik Clay has been bell-ringing at St Botolph’s since 1990 and is confident church commissioners will rule against the change.

He said: “I think we are in an even stronger position this time with the case we will make and hopefully we will win again.

“From a bell ringing point of view I would be very sad if the church were to close.

“What would be the purpose of ringing if we don’t have services to ring for.”

Representations can be made by writing to Rex Andrew, Church Commissioners, Church House, Great Smith Street, London, SW1P 3AZ or by emailing [email protected] before June 29.