CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) — Parishioners at a small Roman Catholic Church in southern New Jersey are staging a sit-in at their church in an effort to persuade church officials to reopen the building.

St. Mary’s in Gloucester County’s Franklin Township has been closed since Nov. 9 due to a furnace problem. Officials in the Camden Diocese are also planning to merge it with two other parishes as part of a larger consolidation effort.

On Monday, parishioners decided to protest, getting into the church and staying.

They told the Courier-Post of Cherry Hill and the Gloucester County Times that they’ll keep a 24-hour vigil there until it reopens.

(Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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