Hawes Congregational: Who do some Chapels Close and Others Remain?


It was sad to discover in Hawes this week two redundant chapels. The Congregationalist Chapel (left) became an art gallery which has now itself shut down. The Methodists (below) lasted longer but went the same way. So why do churches shut?

Social Reasons:

As Britain has become increasingly secular and godless, the churches have emptied. Sunday, the day of rest and worship, is just another leisure day. Brits are simply not interested in their lives beyond the grave.

Villages have become populated by wealthy commuters and pensioners. The honest working folk who made up the congregations were priced out. Others were forced to the towns as farms mechanised and the need for labour fell. Of course this doesn't entirely explain the decline, but it does explain why villages are far less populated now than they were.

They failed to reach out to the young. Content with just older folk, there was none to replace them when God called them home.

 Financial reasons:

The cost of employing a minister and maintaining a building is astronomically higher than it was in the last few centuries, even taking inflation into account.

Theological Reasons

Many chapels became distracted. They focussed on all sorts of worthy things like organ funds and flower shows, but seldom the Cross of Christ and the forgiveness of sins. Churches became mere social hubs instead of places where people could meet God.

Churches embraced theological liberalism. They dispensed with judgment, sin and hell. The Ten Commandments became the ten suggestions. Churches had little to offer and therefore people never received. God wrote ICHABOD over them. This means 'the glory has departed from Israel'. God's presence does not tarry forever. He left the temple of Solomon, and He'll leave our churches too if we don't remain faithful.
While we still faithfully proclaim His Word, preach His good news and worship Him in Spirit and in truth, the glory shall remain in Israel and we shall remain open.