The possibility of many British churches closing within the next 25 years has led government ministers to examine how extra funding might help these buildings become central to community regeneration.
Treasury officials and church leaders will discuss how the Government can release funding for churches involved in community-based projects. They will also discuss how new planning regulations might allow such buildings to be adapted more easily for wider use.
The number of churches in Britain is forecast to fall by a fifth, from 48,500 now to only 39,200 in 2030. There is currently a shortfall of around £80 million each year for vital repairs to churches, according to English Heritage, leaving many parishes struggling.
Closing churches may have other outcomes, too, as Orthodox Church leaders in Russia discovered recently. One of their churches has gone missing! Orthodox officials in a central Russian region say an abandoned church building that was to be put back into use has been stolen by local villagers.
Officials last saw the two-storey Church of Resurrection intact in late July. Sometime in early October, however, people from the nearby village of Komarovo, north-east of Moscow, dismantled the building brick by brick and sold it to a local builder.