Catholics in Melton have launched a battle to save their historic town centre church from being closed.
The Bishop of Nottingham, the Rt Rev Patrick McKinney wants to concentrate all services at St Peter’s in Welby Lane and close St John’s, in Thorpe End, where worshippers have gathered since 1842.
But a charity has been formed by members who want St John’s to stay open because they say it is busy, it’s easier to get to than St Peter’s and because of its rich history as a grade two listed building.
Frances Levett, chair of the new campaigning charity, said: “St John’s is easy to get to being in the centre of town but St Peter’s is up a big hill and is out of town.
“It’s also a grade two listed building so it would be difficult to get planning permission to alter it if it did close.
“We are afraid it will become derelict if it goes out of use as a church.”
Almost 800 people have signed an online petition while a paper version has more than 130 signatories.
The bishop is consulting worshippers on their feelings about the closure plans and it has been mooted that one church would unite Catholics in the town.
But Mrs Levett added: “We expected a lot of support, but the petitions have exceeded expectations.
“Virtually the entire adult congregation at both churches queued up to sign the petition.
“Only a handful failed to sign. The Bishop and those calling for closure are completely out of touch with the will of the parish.”
She added: “Many generations have brought their sorrows and joys to this church, and it is still constantly in use, with a Sunday congregation of over 80 and a weekday one of 20 to 30.
“The church is in an excellent state of repair and it can serve our local community for the next 200 years.”
Go to www.change.org and search for ‘Save St John’s Church, Melton Mowbray’ if you would like to sign the online petition backing the church to be saved.