The villagers in Exmoor worry that church buildings shall be closed and the rectory shall be bought

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CHURCHERS in two remote communities in Exmoor have expressed concerns that their two small village churches might be closed and the house offered for service could be sold by the diocese.

The parishioners of St. Mary & # 39; s, Oare and St. Bueno & # 39; s, Culbone in Somerset, built and paid for the house in the 1960s to provide a rent-free home to a retired priest who in return did a church service per week in two isolated churches.

Although the 15th and 13th century buildings continue to regularly attract visitors, the congregation has had problems paying a full-time priest since World War II.

Under the agreement, half of the priest's household bills and any expenses were paid locally. The Bath & Wells diocese only paid for building insurance.

Oare Parish Meeting chairman Jeremy Payne told The Times last week that this agreement had kept the spiritual and social life of the community that has no business, pub, or village center alive.

However, since the final retirement of his longtime priest, Pastor Colin Burke, last year, the diocese has prevented the community from promoting a successor and announced plans to sell the rectory, he said. Community members were expected to join other communities. The diocese also decided to rent the rectory to private tenants.

Mr. Payne, who called a council meeting, said: “The diocese has no moral right to sell the rectory and to use the money for its own purposes. We, the parishioners, paid for the rectory ourselves; Therefore, the church should not be able to choose to sell it.

“For the communities in the bog, this would mean the end of a rhythm of worship that dates back to the 13th century.

“Not only that, it would take those scattered homesteads the only regular opportunity to catch up with their neighbors. It would also make these two focal points of the community become mere tourist attractions – museums in the past and no living facilities for the community. "

CREATIVE COMMONSSt. Bueno, Culbone, in Somerset

The Archdeacon of Taunton, the Ven. Simon Hill said on Tuesday that a final decision about the future of the ward and rectory had not yet been made.

“The diocese needs to look very carefully at how it directs its resources and how service and mission are carried out in the 21st century. Unlike many small communities, Oare and Culbone have not yet been connected in a larger group of communities, like most villages of their size now.

“There have been a number of meetings with Church members, but no final decision has been made about the future of the house. Whatever happens to the house, the Church will continue to serve and serve the people in the scattered communities. We hope and pray that the beautiful churches of Oare and Culbone will continue to offer hospitality to hikers, hold worship services at major festivals, and maintain their worship rhythm with local support. "

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