Clitheroe Methodist church faces £1m revamp challenge

The Reverend Tim Thorpe, Jean Robinson and Stuart Robinson (l-r)
Image caption The Reverend Tim Thorpe (left) believes the building will become a vital community hub

A church in Lancashire's Ribble Valley has already raised a fifth of the £1m they need to revamp their building into a more community and worship-based amenity.

The the roof and heating system of Trinity Methodist Church on Wesleyan Row on Parsons Lane in Clitheroe needs urgent repair.

Instead of just making basic changes, the church council voted to embark on a bigger project which should put the church at the centre of community life.

"The difficulty is the building is basically tired, we knew we had to do something with the roof and the heating system. To replace the heating system means we will have to take the pews out and so we thought we may as well do a complete overhaul," the Reverend Tim Thorpe said.

"It's providing opportunities for the community. I have found that if you get people coming through the door for other things, they say this place is really great and they start coming to church."

He added that the "compete overhaul" should take about four years to make the church a vital, every day, centre point for community and faith life.

"If a church isn't serving the community and only being used for worship on a Sunday it is immoral. We need to be right at the heart of the community providing opportunities for old people and young people. Different groups with different interests," Mr Thorpe said.

'Very generous'

The church is about to employ a children and young families worker and will start running after school clubs. It will also continue its works with the elderly and hold fun evenings like Salsa classes.

Structural changes to the church's interior are also planned. The preaching area of the church will be opened up to make it more performance friendly.

Image caption The renovation work at Trinity Methodist Church in Clitheroe will take about four years

Jean Robinson from fundraising committee said there had already been support from people to help "make in-roads into the million pounds cost of the project".

"We have the bread and butter things we do to keep us ticking over every month like the coffee stop, events like a ceilidh and we opened the church up for the Sheepfest," she said.

Everyone at the church is lending a hand. A team, led by Tim Thorpe, has recently completed a sponsored hike on the Three Peaks and another team are looking at grant applications.

Yet even with the most enthusiastic of supporters, raising £1m is a big ask for any community. Mrs Robinson feels it will be a slow and purposeful campaign.

"We will keep chipping away and with the help of our faith it will happen," she said.

The Reverend Tim Thorpe also remains undaunted.

"What you have to remember is that the Methodist people are very generous. For instance, last week we received a legacy of £10,000 so we believe that if God is in this, it is going to happen."

Joe Wilson presents the faith programme on BBC Radio Lancashire from 6am each Sunday.

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