THE PARISH of Heene will be split between three neighbouring parishes if a request for dissolution is granted.
The Parochial Church Council of Heene, made up of between 15 and 19 people, unanimously decided to ask for closure of St Botolph’s Church and the dissolution of the parish of Heene.
A statement released by the Rev Colin Kassell, the rural dean of Worthing, and David Mason, lay chairman of Worthing Deanery Synod, said “without any financial reserves the parish faced some very difficult questions to answer”.
The statement said: “After a long and free consultation with all worshippers, we were very proud and supportive of the people of Heene who made a very difficult decision.
“The parochial church council unanimously decided to request a pastoral scheme from the Church Commissioners, through the Diocesan Mission and Pastoral Committee, asking for closure of St Botolph’s Church and the dissolution of the parish of Heene.
“This was an extremely difficult and personal decision that the people of St Botolph’s, Heene, had to make.”
The statement was issued following a plea by 14-year-old chorister Jamie Elliott to help save St Botolph’s Church, in Lansdowne Road.
David Mason said members of the congregation had mixed feelings about the request for closure of the church and dissolution of the parish.
He said: “People like Jamie and his mum want things to continue as normal, and so are appealing for people to continue attending the church; others recognise the reality of the situation – it is a state of limbo, really.
“However, the request for closure process has started, and agreement for a three-way split of the parish of Heene, if the decision is approved, between the neighbouring parishes has been made.”
The decision now rests with Church Commissioners in London, who will consult with the public before making a final decision.
A spokesman from the Diocese of Chichester said: “The diocese would stress that while a request has been made to the Church Commissioners for closure of the church, the final decision rests with the Commissioners.
“However because of the severe difficulties facing the parish, the deanery is anticipating that the decision will be for closure.”