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The economics of running a church

The cost of maintenance of church properties has generated many innovative schemes down through the centuries. Some Carthusian monks are finding opposition to their proposal while a Methodist minister in Wales has taken the Parable of the Talents literally and started handing out ten pound notes to his parishioners.

Monks in a vast, crumbling Sussex monastery are pushing ahead with plans to build 16 homes on their country estate despite opposition from the local community.

The 24 monks of St Hugh's Charterhouse are going over the heads of planners and appealing to the Government to be allowed to build the 3 million development, which they believe they need to preserve their lifestyle.

The Carthusian monks say that they urgently need the money to pay for essential repairs on their Grade II listed monastery, built in the 1870s in the style of a French chateau a few miles south of Horsham.

If the work does not proceed, they face being scattered around the country and their daily routine, based on rules laid down 900 years ago by St Bruno, their founder, would be disrupted.

The monks, who wear white robes and each live in a hermitage, take a vow of silence and devote their time to prayer and meditation in a world where women are banished.

The decision to reject the monks' development has been backed by the residents of Littleworth, which abuts St Hugh's 250-acre estate and would overlook the houses.

St Hugh's was built to house a hundred monks. Their building is severely affected by rot, damp and a leaking roof. It once faced closure but grants from English Heritage and the monastery's mother house in Chartreuse helped it to survive.

John Warren, spokesman for the order, said: "Basically the whole building needs a thorough overhaul and the new homes will raise 3 million to pay for it." - The Times

A Methodist minister has dished out 10 notes to his congregation and told them to go forth and multiply the money.

The Rev Howard Long put his faith in the money-making talents of his flock to come up with fund-raising ideas.

The south Wales minister drew inspiration from the Parable of the Talents in the Gospels and decided to turn scripture into reality.

Now he is hoping up to 50 members of his congregation at Mumbles Methodist Church, Swansea will reward his faith and turn their 10 into a substantial profit.

"One person did ask me if they could put it all on the 4.25 at Aintree as a joke," said Mr Long.

"But the serious side to this is that we are looking to raise as much as possible for our grade II listed church which needs 600,000 of work.

"I gave them all four months to do their best and they are due to show how they have performed on February 16."

He said his Biblical parable, in which a man gives his servants cash and tells them to increase the capital, can be treated as a modern day morality tale.

Those who turned their cash into a profit were praised but one servant, who buried his cash and did nothing, was cast out.

Mr Long added: "In this case none of the congregation is in any danger of being cast out. This was all done on a voluntary basis." - Ananova

The Times