IT’S like coming home!
That’s the verdict of Gomersal Methodists whose church has been transformed in an extensive refurbishment.
The ‘Pork Pie Chapel’ as it is affectionately known, was closed for a year while the work was carried out, but members are now back at the Grade II listed building in Latham Lane.
The congregation and invited guests attended a re-opening celebration on Saturday, and on Sunday there was a service of re-dedication conducted by the Revs John Santry, Keith Pratt and Graham Edwards.
The renovation project began in 2004 when plans were drawn up to alter the church buildings, but extensive dry rot was then found in the Sunday school hall, sending the costs spiralling.
Two years later the church announced plans to sell off the Sunday school to fund the scheme which involved new heating, lighting, a kitchen and meeting room.
However the plans were beset by delays and the work did not begin until 2010. Phase one saw repairs to the outside – to the roof, guttering and window sills, then last February workmen began on the inside and the building closed for worship with members holding services at Birkenshaw Methodist Church instead.
Phase two, removing some of the pews to create a screened community room and kitchen, redecorating and re-carpeting is now complete, and the final stage will see a refurbishment of the upstairs.
On Saturday the members saw the transformation for the first time and were delighted with the results.
The Rev Keith Pratt said: “The church was in disrepair. The heating was defunct, there was dry rot, rising damp and no water. We faced a decision either to close or do something.
“We never thought we would get here. It is a momentous and very special occasion. It has been a challenging journey but we have arrived, and we are now beginning a new journey – a journey of mission.”
The Rev John Santry added: “It was a complete revelation to see the transformation.”
Steward Pam Jones said: “We’re thrilled with the results. We’ve been very well looked after by Birkenshaw Bottoms Church and we’re very grateful for their support, but it’s nice to be back home.
“Now we want community groups to come and use the church. We have a wonderful room with a kitchen which is separated from the church by a glass screen, which folds back to create more space in the church area for things such as weddings.”
Senior steward Emily Addison said: “We couldn’t have wished for better. It’s been the most wonderful weekend we have ever had, and we’d like to thank everybody involved in the project because without their help we couldn’t have got here.”
Circuit minister the Rev Graham Edwards added: “It’s a fabulous achievement, a lot of hard work has gone into transforming the building into something that is a valuable asset for the whole community and a wonderful place to worship God.”
The scheme cost around £250,000 funded by the sale of the Sunday school, fund-raising by the church members and grants.