Lead theft Crawshawbooth church in Rossendale to close
The vicar of an east Lancashire church forced to close after repeated thefts of lead from the roof has said the congregation is "devastated".
The Rev Jenny Montgomery said some worshippers at St John the Evangelist Church, Crawshawbooth, Rossendale, had been reduced to tears by the closure.
She said: "The vandals have no thought of the implications of their actions.
"This is seen as a victimless crime but it is not; people I know and love are so hurt by this crime. It is awful."
The roof of the church has been left with a "gaping big hole" following five thefts of lead at the end of August and September. In one incident, thieves made off with 40ft (12m) of lead flashing.
The interior of the church, which dates back to the 1850s, has since been ruined by rain which got in through the hole.
Ms Montgomery said: "It is impossible to worship there again so we won't even be able to do a final service.
"The church was struggling before this but the roof would cost £20,000 to replace. An architect roughly estimated the cost of fixing the damage to the entire church at about half a millon pounds."
She added: "It is a devastating way to end."
The congregation is now worshipping at St Mary's and All Saints' Church in the nearby village of Goodshaw.