Community plan to raise millions to save important church
A RADICAL scheme is under way to save one of the country's most important churches.
People from the village of St Germans, in South East Cornwall, have formed a trust to raise millions of pounds to restore their parish church.
St Germans Priory Trust has been set up to turn the historic building into a community centre as well as a place of worship.
The trustees are hoping to raise millions of pounds to restore and modernise the Grade 1 listed building.
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With the support of the Bishop of Truro, the Rt Revd Tim Thornton, enthusiastic local volunteers have developed a ground-breaking plan.
Their vision is to turn the priory and surrounding grounds into a community resource, visitor attraction and educational centre.
St Germans Priory has been the site of Christian worship since the 9th Century, when it was the cathedral for Cornwall.
The present church was rebuilt in the 12th Century, and is dedicated to St Germanus of Auzerre.
It is one of the finest, oldest and historic parish churches in the county, and one of the oldest buildings still in use for its original purpose.
Two years ago the Grade 1 listed building faced closure with a dwindling congregation and no money for repairs or modernisation.
The Rev Michael Goodland, the St Germans parish priest, said: "Architecturally it is one of the top 100 churches in the country.
"It's a very important church, so everything has to be done sympathetically.
"When it was built, it was state-of-the-art and we want to make it that again."
Since a low point in 2010, the congregation has been growing rapidly, said Mr Goodland, who took up his office in September.
Bishop Tim Thornton, Bishop of Truro, said: "I am very grateful to all those who are working so hard to try to ensure a sustainable future for this internationally important building.
"I hope and pray the trust is successful in its work, and will do all I can to support it.
"I am especially pleased that the trust is working so closely with the local community and the local churches.
"It is crucial that we find a way forward to maintain the Christian presence and ensure the community is not burdened by maintenance and capital costs, but enabled to reach out and engage with one and all."
The Bishop of Truro and Mr Goodland will host an event at the priory with the trustees at 7pm on Friday, January 11.
The whole community has been invited to join in, to learn about the plans and to get involved.
The event will open with singing from children of St Germans Primary School. The launch event continues on Saturday January 12 at 9.30am.
The new trust will take on the responsibility for making improvements to the building including the addition of heating, better lighting and other modern facilities for worshippers and local schoolchildren.