What happens when a church closes?
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What happens when a church closes?

The Church of England closes very few buildings each year.

Whilst there were a relatively high level of closures in the 1960s and 1970s, in the last twenty years the trends in closure have changed.

In the 1990s the average number of annual closures was 28, and since 1999 this average has fallen again to just less than 24 closures per year, out of an estate of more than 16,000 church buildings. For over half of those buildings closed a new active use is found for them.

Future options which most obviously have a community, other Christian or cultural dimension account for 46% of closed buildings, with 27% vested (in a conservation trust or other body) and 27% for more commercial uses (which can include residential, office, retail, storage and light industrial uses).

The Closure Process

The Mission and Pastoral Measure 2011 provides the legal framework for settling the future of closed churches and sets out the significant public consultation which is involved in establishing any new use – click here to read more.

Given the legal constraints it can take time to settle the future of our buildings and the information about available buildings does not change with any great speed. You can read more about the closure process and find out about the work of the Statutory Advisory Committee on Closed and Closing Churches here – click here.

The final stage in closure involves the Church Commissioners, who hold ultimate responsibility for the sale or re-use of closed churches. Click here to read more about this process. 

Churches available for alternative use

If you are interested to find out more about churches available for new uses, you can find information on available buildings on the Church Commissioners’ website.

Any initial enquiry about a particular building should be made to the contacts given on that page.

Use of a church by other Christian Denominations

The use of a church building for worship by another Christian church is discussed in the Code of Practice to the Mission and Pastoral Measure at Section 17.6 - the relevant chapter of the Code may be downloaded here.

This sets out the current legal guidance on considering the suitability of such uses.