Church Sells Building to Muslims: Cites Waning Congregation Numbers

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(Photo: Google Maps)St. Paul's Catholic Church in Staffordshire, U.K., has closed its doors and sold its building to members of the Muslim community, citing waning attendance.

A British church has closed due to a shrinking congregation and will sell its building to members of the area's Muslim community. A spokesperson for the church noted that St. Peter's Catholic church in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, has had an important past in the community but that the current population of attenders was insufficient to keep it open.

"The parish of Cobridge has a long history," the spokesperson told The Daily Express. "But in recent times the number of Catholics living in the area has shrunk to such an extent that those attending Mass at St Peter's were simply no longer able to Marian a priest and the church buildings."

While the church declined to give the names of the buyers, it solicited several offers and ultimately made the decision after meeting with church leadership.

"A modest number of offers were received and a local Muslim community made the best offer, acceptable to the diocesan trustees after consultation in other local parishes," the spokesperson said.

Church officials also cited the region's changing demographics as another reason the church shut its doors.

"Any decisions taken about these churches is always done in consultation with priests, parishioners and the local community to serve the common good if all and to reflect the changing demographics and needs of the Catholic population."

Islam is the second largest religion in Great Britain, now making up nearly five percent of the population, a one percent increase since 2001. Christianity is still by far the country's largest religion with nearly 60 percent of Great Britain's 63 milllion population professing it as their faith, though it has dropped significantly since 2001, when 71 percent of the country identified themselves as Christians.

In 2010, the BBC reported that there were only five million Catholics in Great Britain remaining.

Data released earlier this year suggests that church attendence in traditional denominations, which has been decreasing for years in Great Britain, has stabilized. A spokesperson for the Church of England explained that average weekly attendance at Anglican parishes in 2011 was 1.1 million.