This is the text of the announcement made at last weekend’s Masses across the Partnership:
The Diocese has asked all partnerships to carry out a Property and Community review.
Between 1985 and 2017 Mass attendance in the Diocese fell by more than 64%, but the number of Diocesan buildings has hardly changed. This means that we have too many churches and buildings, and the way they are currently used is unsustainable into the future. This situation places an increasing burden on priests and volunteers to manage property and we cannot afford to meet ongoing running, maintenance and repair costs.
Now is the time for Partnerships to look ahead and consider what our future property and community needs will be. The Diocese has asked that we undertake a full review of our buildings and land so that a flexible plan can be developed to maximise their use and sustainability, to meet the needs of our parishes and of the wider community.
Each parish is asked to carry out a Community Audit, including talking to the local community such as local councils and voluntary groups, to help us think about what our buildings could be used for. We will be looking for volunteers in all our parishes to make sure there is plenty of communication and consultation with parishioners, and to identify options for use of our buildings.
The Partnership is then asked to look ahead to 2030, taking account of the views of the parishes, financial forecasts, and property appraisals which look at building use and condition, to identify priorities. A Property Proposals Plan will then be developed and submitted to the Diocese, where it will be reviewed.
The Partnership Development Group is meeting with Jeremy Brock, the Diocesan Property Review Co-ordinator, on 1 October, to find out more about the process. We will, of course, be working with the Building Committees / volunteers in all of the parishes, and there will be plenty of opportunity for everyone to contribute their thoughts and ideas over the coming months.
If you think you could help with the Community Audit please contact Margaret Doyle on firstname.lastname@example.org