Religion: Churches win battle to stay open

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Proving once again that nothing galvanises a church like persecution, it was confirmed yesterday that all 37 Anglican churches in the City of London are to remain open for worship.

Four years ago there was a hue and cry when the Templeman Commission proposed closing two-thirds of the City churches, many of them designed by Sir Christopher Wren after Great Fire of 1666. The problem was not money to maintain the churches, dwarfed by the glass temples of Mammon, but paying so many clergy for so few regular worshippers.

About 5,000 people live in the Square Mile. However, the incoming Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, was determined to keep all the churches open, albeit for only one day a week in some cases, and yesterday charged a new City Churches Development Group with ensuring they do. Several churches are being kept open by using priests who are semi-retired or draw salaries from other bodies.