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Friends of Ivy House fight back

06 December 2013

by a staff reporter


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." 


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