Redundant Churches

Church Commissioners written question – answered at on 25 April 2024.

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Photo of Neil O'Brien Neil O'Brien Conservative, Harborough

To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, how many churches were deconsecrated in each year since 1994.

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous The Second Church Estates Commissioner, The Second Church Estates Commissioner

The Church of England law around church buildings is complex, but there are two main types; a consecrated church building where the bishop has performed a rite of consecration, setting the church building (and font and altar) aside for public worship, and a place of worship that has been licensed for that purpose by the bishop (not consecrated).

The Church of England does not have a rite of "deconsecration" as such – it is more usual to refer to the 'closure' of a church that is consecrated. The process of closure is a legal one, set out in the Mission and Pastoral Measure 2011 and its predecessor legislation. The bishop's consecration of a church building for worship cannot be removed. However, the legal effects of consecration can be withdrawn in order to allow the disposal of the building and a new use to be found for the building.

Since 1994 there have been around 650 closure schemes for consecrated church buildings brought forward under the Mission and Pastoral Measure. In some of those cases, the closed church building will have been sold to other Christian denominations for worship use, and in some cases some occasional worship continues, even if the closed church building is being used for community activities, for example.

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