A charity which has been operating in St Helens for almost 20 years is to be closed.
The Trust Board of SHINE, which is based at St Helens Parish Church has announced that the charity will shut at the end of April because of a decline in support for its work.
The churches of St Helens have worked together under the banner of SHINE and its precursors since 1991, and SHINE became a charity in 1997.
Since that time it has facilitated inter-church communications and information exchange, joint working, mission and community-based projects as well as providing a major prayer network for the borough.
But in a statement issued by the board, it said the decision had been made with “great sadness” but that they were sure it was the “correct response”.
The statement reads: “There is much to thank God for that SHINE has been part of over these years.
“Of course, nothing could have been achieved without the support of churches, church and other Christian leaders and their people, through prayer, financial support and provision of people and energy.
“Many people have volunteered willingly in serving the purposes of God in this town for which we must be grateful.
“Not least of course, SHINE has played a major part in developing close relationships between churches and the council and other local agencies.
“Today the churches are held in high regard by the council and are welcomed to the table in many of their discussions and committees.
“It is therefore with great sadness that the board has taken this decision. However we believe the environment within which we work has changed dramatically and support for SHINE from amongst the churches is not sufficient to sustain its effectiveness.
“The shape of church has also shifted, and whilst the Gospel we proclaim is unchanged, the way in which we do this, and therefore the ways in which we collaborate, must alter to fit.”
The statement goes on to say that a survey, carried out a year ago, received mixed responses and did not layout a clear future for the mission.
The statement continues: “Whilst we recognise that not everyone will agree with this decision, it is the case that over the past six months there has been little activity generated by SHINE.
“Twelve months ago a survey was undertaken to determine the support for and the future shape SHINE could usefully embrace.
“The responses were very inconclusive and made it impossible to see any clear way forward. As a result the Board reluctantly has now decided this is the correct response.
“We are confident that God will continue to enable his people in St Helens to work together for his kingdom.”