A 19th century church in Machen is fighting to stay open as it faces a steep bill for essential repairs.
St John’s Church organisers are holding a public meeting at the church at 11am on Saturday, October 26, to discuss ways the church can better serve the community.
Writing in a letter to parents at Machen Primary School, Reverend Dean Roberts said: “If we don’t do something now, and if there’s no desire from the village to see St. John’s become a valuable asset in the community, it will close.”
He added that the closure could happen within a year.
Speaking to Caerphilly Observer, Rev Roberts said: “Water is resting on the stonework, weakening the stone and taking the paint off.”
He estimates that essential repair works could cost more than £200,000.
“We don’t get grants, we rely on donations from churchgoers. We have to apply for grants like everybody else.
“A lot of people’s loved ones are buried in the church yard. It goes back generations. If this building closes, then the graveyard will be at risk.”
Rev Roberts added: “We’re hoping to renovate the church for flexible community use.
“We would love to see it used by both old and young people, as well as for weddings, funerals and school plays – We want everyone to feel like it’s their church, even if they’re not religious.
“We have a new Co-op store, a thriving rugby club, a lovely village hall and lots of different people doing lots of different things. We want to be able to compliment that.
“It would be nice to have a little Caerphilly Miners’ Centre here in Machen.
“Nothing’s off the table. It can’t just be us making the decisions, it has to benefit Machen.”
Church warden Christine Fretwell said: “We could end up with a church boarded up in the middle of Machen. It’s a horrible prospect.
“To have a future, things need to change. We don’t want change for change’s sake, but we have to be realistic.
“We want this church to stay in a beautiful space in the middle of Machen for as long as possible. We want to think outside the box – this church belongs to the whole community.
“First of all, we want to find out what would benefit the community. We have ideas but we want to hear from people.
“A massive project could come out from this.”
Ms Fretwell added: “We’ve had residents helping to clear up weeds and overgrown trees in the church yard. We’ve had a lot of support from Machen rugby club and Machen Primary School.”