SUPPORTERS of a retreat house are demanding to know why it may
close, despite an upturn in bookings in recent years.
The Friends of Ivy House, a retreat centre open to all faiths
and none in Warminster, Wiltshire, say that there has been "poor
consultation and insufficient time to consider all the options" for
the future of the centre.
The Friends say that a decision to close the centre is due to be
made by the trustees by 10 December, and they are demanding a
meeting beforehand to discuss the situation.
Bookings for quiet days and retreats have increased by more than
60 per cent over the past eight years, they say.
The Church Times has seen an email from a source close
to the trustees which says that it has been supported by a grant
from the Community of St Denys and that this could continue. The
email said that "there is some feeling among Trustees that all
retreat centres need to be heavily subsidized and they cannot break
even," and that others had questioned whether subsidising Ivy House
was the right use of funds.
Ivy House has been run as a retreat centre for more than 40
years. Canon Harold Stephens, spokesman for the Friends, said: "We
would like the chance to speak to the trustees and to have the
chance to see if there is anything we can do to save it."
The trustees did not respond to requests for a comment before
the Church Times went to press this week.
Tim Blewett, who chairs the Association for Promoting Retreats,
said that he was not aware of the proposed closure of Ivy House. He
said, however: "Sadly, amongst the trustees of so many retreat
houses, there has been a loss of nerve as the retreat-house market
has and is changing. . . The APR, through its work enabling
spirituality and retreat across the Church, is trying to encourage
the Church to engage with the faith-development and missionary
opportunities that retreat houses present. Retreat houses work with
a growing number of people both inside of the Church and beyond its
boundaries: people that the Church would otherwise not touch.
Without [them] the church will be the poorer."