A CHURCH in the New Forest has closed its doors after almost two centuries following a vote as volunteer numbers dwindled.

Following a vote by the trustees of Bransgore Methodist Church to “cease to meet”, a decision was made by the district Synod on Saturday April 2 to immediately close the site to all activity.

The site, built in the 1800s, has also been closed to community groups such as a local Brownie troop and a parent and toddler group.

Church minister Reverend Phil Dixon said he is both “thankful” for the many years of success at the site and “disappointed” by the decision which was made despite an apparently strong congregation.

Reverend Dixon, who also acts as a minister in Highcliffe and Milford-on-Sea, told the Echo: “During lockdown and even a few years before, the number of people willing to take up roles to keep the church open was unfortunately reducing.

Salisbury Journal: Bransgore Methodist Church in Chapel Lane. Picture: Christchurch & Wimborne Methodist CircuitBransgore Methodist Church in Chapel Lane. Picture: Christchurch & Wimborne Methodist Circuit

“It got to the point where the few willing volunteers felt that they wanted to stop.

“There was a vote with the church council which was a very close but slightly more voted for it to be discontinued. That happened in August last year and gradually it has gone through different authorities until recently where the decision was made to officially close and offer it for sale.

“I feel a lot of thankfulness for the way that people have offered themselves in service over the years but of course disappointed that this was unable to continue.”

Despite struggling to maintain volunteer numbers, Reverend Dixon said the church congregation actually increased during lockdown. He said: “When we moved to online more people began to engage, perhaps because it was easier or they thought let’s give it a try. This is interesting because a lot of churches are reporting a reduction.”

While the church has closed, Reverend Dixon says there will be a final service arranged in the future to celebrate the church for residents to “give thanks”.

A decision on what will become of the building is yet to be made.


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