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Sussex churches for sale as fewer worship
Methodist churches across the county are being sold off due to plummeting congregation numbers.
Fifteen of the buildings in Sussex are currently either up for sale or are being prepared for sale.
They include the Hollingbury Methodist Church in Lyminster Avenue, which is on the market for £285,000.
Sussex clergymen have raised concerns over the dwindling number of churchgoers, saying the church faces a struggle to encourage “younger people to come and worship”.
A spokeswoman for the Methodist Church said it couldn’t confirm the exact locations of the buildings as it was “commercially sensitive” information, but did confirm how many were for sale.
She said: “We’ve sold one church building in the last two years.
“Currently we’ve got 15 active sale projects. That doesn’t necessarily mean that all 15 of those are currently for sale though.
“It might mean that the local congregation is looking for permission to sell the building, or that they’re getting planning permission in preparation for putting the property on sale. These things often take time.
“There has been a small decline in attendance but I think our methods of worship are changing.
“It’s perhaps a change in our culture. Some people prefer a lie-in on a Sunday morning and like to do their worshipping in other ways.”
Engage with change
The Rev Robin Selmes, from the Dorset Gardens Methodist Church, said churches need to “think outside the box” to keep up with changing lifestyles.
He added: “Work patterns are different, life structures are different and the Church needs to engage with these changes.
“Brighton is an itinerant city. People are moving on to different places and it makes it difficult to keep proceedings more established, like they used to be.
"It could also be that members of a church’s congregation might be passing away and the numbers aren’t being replaced.
“The congregation numbers at Hollingbury Methodist Church declined. In fact they were so low the church couldn’t function properly, which saw the remaining members of the congregation branch off to join other churches.”
Another local minister, who didn’t want to be named, said: “How do you encourage younger people to come and worship? We have a strong and loving message but we can’t force people to listen.”
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