Shropshire Star

'The building might be closing, but the church isn't going anywhere': Minister announces church closure after building becomes too much to handle

A Shrewsbury reverend is optimistic about the future following the announcement that the Greenfields Methodist Church building will be closing its doors next year.

Greenfields Methodist Church. Picture: Google

Last year, Greenfields Methodist Church gathered their community to warn the future of the building was at risk.

The Methodist community has been worshipping in the area for over 130 years, first in a 'tin tabernacle' that opened in 1890 before the current chapel began welcoming worshippers in 1908.

The opening of the building on Greenfield Street followed two years of fundraising and accommodated around 220.

But now, the congregation has a membership of just 14, with Sunday services seeing an average of five attendees.

Three volunteers work tirelessly to maintain the 116-year-old building - but the reverend says it has become too much for too little.

Rev. MacNeill Cooper, minister at Greenfields Methodist Church

Rev. MacNeill Cooper explained: "It's becoming a bit difficult. Our worship and faith community needs are no longer being met by such a large building.

She said: "After a lot of consideration with particular regards to the impact on the local area, it was clear to us as the congregation that the building - as wonderful and gorgeous as it is - we're struggling to be able to continue to maintain the building.

"It's a lot of work, we're responsible for all aspects of it including the maintenance, inspections, heating, cleaning, invoices... but we also have oversight of the church, organising worship, church council, fellowship and all the things that go with being a church.

"Those volunteers have held those roles for longer than the recommended term because there's no one else to take up the office. They're faithful, and they're tired."

The church has given the community a lengthy notice period - with plans to get the building on the market in July 2025. Until then, it's service as usual.

Despite the building's closure representing a decline in church attendance, the Reverend says she is excited about the future.

"The church and the building are two separate things. The church is the people and the building happens to be where those people meet.

"From a faith perspective, we're a resurrection people and we're excited to see how the church can be meaningful and relevant in the future.

"It's just a question of how to be a church. People seek out the church during times of crisis or celebration, even those who don't consider themselves to be Christian turn to the church for support and that is a privilege that we treasure deeply.

"But we also recognize that as a church community, we do need to adapt to the time.

"Personally, I'm really excited to see what the spiritual needs of the congregation will be in the coming months because I think there's a real longing for something beyond the hymn sandwich.

"A fertile, deep spiritual exploration with consideration for social justice, both inside, and outside the church - and I think that we are gifted with this opportunity.

"Early Christianity didn't have a building or a home, they had a small group of 12. And those people changed the course of history in a way that's still present with us 2,000 years later."