VICARS' jobs could be axed and parishes merged under radical new plans by the Anglican church to cut costs.
Clergy from the Diocese of Southwark – which includes churches across Reigate and Banstead borough – met with the Bishop of Southwark, the Right Reverend Christopher Chessun, on Wednesday last week in London to discuss finances.
The bishop gave them a stark warning – that there was a shortfall of £609,972 in the diocese's funds and 30 posts across the diocese would have to go by 2015.
If the proposal goes ahead, some parishes might be merged, departing vicars not replaced, and unpaid stipendiary clergy brought in to fill the gap left by the departing vicars.
The Reverend Michael Elfred, vicar at the Church of the Good Shepherd in The Avenue, Tadworth, said: "I am concerned. Being a vicar is a full-time job. I'm 63 and due to retire in the next few years. My congregation could be asked to pay for someone who isn't there.
"If parishes are united with one another, congregations could drop, the money collected could drop and you could be back to square one."
The plan is currently under consultation and a decision will be made in November.
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