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Bishop of Chichester faces backlash after axing youth team
A bishop is facing a backlash from his congregation after a decision to scrap the diocese’ youth team.
Three full-time posts will be “deleted” as the Church of England Diocese of Chichester, which covers all of Sussex, restructures.
But despite the deal seeming to be done and dusted, young Christians across the county are refusing to be defeated and are set to hand the bishop, Rt Revd Martin Warner, a 750-signature petition.
The so-called Yes Team, which stands for You, Equipped to Serve, is currently made up of three youth workers and two backroom staff.
Claire Phillips, who runs a youth group in Partridge Green, described the work of the Yes Team as “vital”.
She said: “They visit our local group regularly and are always at the end of the phone when we need help as organisers.
“The youth is the future of the church and groups like ours need to reach out into the community.
“Young people need safe places to go to teach them how to grow and be confident in themselves. We need to reach through. I worry if the Yes Team is finished.”
Ali Campbell, who has led the youth team for eight years, learned of the plans to cut it in November last year.
In a letter from the diocese, he was told the posts would be “deleted” as part of the “new structure”.
The diocese spelt out its intention to replace the team with a single youth officer.
Mrs Phillips, who runs the church youth group from her front room, said the proposal would be a “huge loss” to the county.
She added: “They do so much locally. Not only do they support day to day but they also arrange big events such as the annual May camp.
“This is something of a highlight of the calendar as it brings the young people together. It’s hugely important for developing them as young people and it is a place where they can make friends for life.
“They also run a gap year scheme which wouldn’t be possible without them.”
The youngsters are set to hand the petition to the Bishop of Chichester on March 10. It includes names from Crawley, Steyning, Brighton and Horsham.
A spokeswoman for the diocese said the proposal was far from being finalised.
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