Split opinion at meeting to determine the future of Honiton's historic St Michael's Church
PUBLISHED: 15:39 08 May 2019 | UPDATED: 09:09 10 May 2019
The future use of a historic church in Honiton remains unclear, despite a public meeting held to decide how best it could serve the community.
Church officials have expressed their hope to reopen St Michael's Church in Honiton for the use of the community.
The Diocese of Exeter says there are no plans to sell St Michael's and has had a number of meetings with church and secular bodies with no viable future use for the building being identified.
However, at a public meeting held last week, opinion was split on how St Michael's should remain - with many preferring it remains a church in some form.
Other ideas put forward included using the building for young people or doing something in collaboration with schools in the area.
A Diocese spokesman said: "The Diocese will now meet with some of those who put forward ideas to see which ones are most viable.
"There will be another public meeting to discuss these at a later date."
The Bishop of Crediton, Reverend Jackie Searle, chaired last week's meeting.
She said: "There seemed to be a real sense at the meeting that the church building is spiritually important to the town.
"Several people talked about it being a very special place.
"I thought that was fantastic. It was great to hear everyone's ideas and I look forward to working with people going forward."
St Michael's, a 15th century church, was closed to the public earlier this year because of poor attendance and a need for major structural repairs.
However, its future has been uncertain for many years.
A public meeting held in 2012 heard the building was little-used and in need of repairs costing tens of thousands of pounds.
At the time, it was reported that over three Sunday services, St Paul's Church attracted an average of 105 worshippers, while a Thursday morning service at St Michael's attracted an average of just 21 worshippers.
In March last year, the Venerable Christopher Futcher, Archdeacon of Exeter, said: "The parochial church council (PCC) of the voted to close St Michael's as far back as 2012, and strenuous efforts have been made since to see if there is a way to keep the church open, either as a space for worship or for another purpose.
"Sadly, despite exploring lots of different options, ultimately no viable proposal for St Michael's has been found."