Church may cut weekly worship after just five people attended on Sunday - including the pastor

Pastor Maralyn Bambridge is looking for more people to join her congregation in East Bergholt Pictur

Pastor Maralyn Bambridge is looking for more people to join her congregation in East Bergholt Picture: STEVEN BAMBRIDGE - Credit: Archant

An East Bergholt church may have to axe some of its Sunday services after just five people turned up for the weekend’s congregation - including the pastor.

The village’s Congregational Church has been a part of the community for around 300 years and enjoys a good attendance for its community events, lunches and coffee mornings.

However, the church has seen a steady drop in its congregation over the years, with Pastor Maralyn Bambridge saying talks will need to be held over Christmas to discuss whether it can continue hosting its weekly Sunday services.

“We are having problems at the moment,” she said.

“We to a lot of events - lunches and that sort of thing - but getting people to church on a Sunday is proving difficult.

“We can get people in for our carol services and lunches but can’t get them in on the Sunday.

“We have lost, in the last 12 or 18 months, three or four people from the congregation and we are now down to half a dozen.

Most Read

“On Sunday there were only five people there, and that includes myself.

“You have to consider when you get down to that number whether they can carry on every week.

“Come Christmas we may have to review whether we can do a Sunday service every week - but we are not looking to close.”

The first congregational church was built in Cemetery Lane between 1703 and 1750, then known as the Independent Meeting House.

The church catered for worshippers in Dedham, Manningtree, Brantham, Wenham, Higham and Stratford but after the opening of the Meeting House in Dedham, the congregation was disbanded.

On April 22 1857, the new Congregational Chapel was opened in East Bergholt.

Mrs Bambridge said she would love to see new people join the church, especially younger people.

She said: “We have recently had the church renovated so there’s a lot of work that has gone on here.

“We have recently had the whole church redecorated and replastered.

“We have a separate meeting room which has also been refurbished so it really is a very warm and comfortable building.

“We are not a formal church, its in the very nature of congregational churches to be informal.

“I have only been here four years and was impressed when I arrived by how warm and welcoming it is.

“The church is a real asset to the community.

“If anyone is interested in joining me to work with younger people we would really welcome their ideas.

“We are not set in our ways or stuck in the mud at all here.

We are a very open church.

“What is really missing is younger members, we should be trying to get more young people in.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter