A NORTHWICH church could face closure unless drastic measures are taken to keep it open.
Parochial church council officials are discussing their options in a bid to meet a cash crisis exacerbated by spiralling repair bills.
St Helen's Parish Church, a Grade-I listed building parts of which date back to 1350, is facing a repair bill running into many hundreds of thousands of pounds. And on top of that there is a deficit each month of £1,500 just for running the town centre parish.
'At the end of the day we are spending £1,500 a month more than we recoup,' said the Rev Paul Dawson. 'For many years that gap has been bridged by the church selling off buildings or pieces of land but our reserves are virtually exhausted.
'The biggest single expenditure we have is St Helen's Parish Church. The wiring urgently needs replacing, the tower needs re-pointing, the roof will also need replacing in the near future, and we also need to restore all the stained glass windows.
'A lot of people think the church is funded by the Government or someone else, but the fact is the church is founded entirely by the people who go to it.'
Options to trim costs include closing St Helen's or turning it into a multi-use church at the expense of the other buildings in the parish which the church owns including St Thomas at Rudheath, St Johns Rooms, Cornerstones Family Centre and the curate's house.
He added: 'There are a range of options we will have to consider. Some people are saying look you have a very expensive building which in the long run is more expensive to run than what you can afford. Some people are suggesting we close St Helen's and cease to use it as a church, or close one of the other buildings.'