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Sudbury’s United Reformed Church and adjoining Friars Hall to close because of falling congregations

PUBLISHED: 18:24 03 March 2017 | UPDATED: 18:24 03 March 2017

Christ Church United Reformed Church in Sudbury plus the adjoining Friars Hall are planned to close in December 2017. Picture: CHRIS SHIMWELL

Christ Church United Reformed Church in Sudbury plus the adjoining Friars Hall are planned to close in December 2017. Picture: CHRIS SHIMWELL

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Falling congregations mean Sudbury’s Christ Church United Reformed Church is likely to close at the end of the year – leaving the town with barely any venues left for community groups to hire.

Christ Church United Reformed Church in Sudbury plus the adjoining Friars Hall are planned to close in December 2017. Picture: CHRIS SHIMWELLChrist Church United Reformed Church in Sudbury plus the adjoining Friars Hall are planned to close in December 2017. Picture: CHRIS SHIMWELL

The Sudbury Society’s chairman Lorna Hoey said there was “shock and disbelief at the news” that the town would lose the use of the adjoining Friars Hall.

“Our first reaction was that we are losing the meeting place which the society has used for many years,” she said.

“Only last year the society spent several thousand pounds on installing sound equipment plus a wall-fixed screen and a projector which allow us to show films and presentations in our meetings.

“Our second reaction was one of despair. Here we are, losing yet another venue when Sudbury has so few. The Conservative Club was an ideal meeting-place: gone. St Gregory’s Church Hall – no longer with us. And the future of the Delphi is uncertain.”

Church secretary Chris Proffitt said the decision was taken because of falling attendances at the church, in School Street.

He added it was partly down to the number of churches in the town and the surrounding villages.

Christ Church United Reformed Church in Sudbury plus the adjoining Friars Hall are planned to close in December 2017. Picture: CHRIS SHIMWELLChrist Church United Reformed Church in Sudbury plus the adjoining Friars Hall are planned to close in December 2017. Picture: CHRIS SHIMWELL

“Our congregation grew old and diminished in numbers,” he said.

“It became too exhausting to maintain. We won’t be the only one this year in the United Reformed Church [to close].

“We should be getting together and joining up our churches rather than each struggling on.”

He said they hoped to be able to join up with their friends at the United Reformed Church in Long Melford.

He said this would be “much more viable” for both groups.

The church is planned to close in December, but there will be a review of the decision in the summer.

The move has caused the Sudbury Society to renew calls for a central community hub in the town.

“We desperately need a central community hub for Sudbury,” said Mrs Hoey.

“Other small towns – Long Melford, Lavenham – have community halls. Why can’t Sudbury?”

The building is heritage listed but she said this could stall any work on converting the building.

She added: “Will we be stuck with yet another iconic building, boarded up because no-one can find a use for it?”

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