AN AMBITIOUS £500,000 renovation at St Thomas’s Church in Delph aims to update the building for today’s generation and the 21st century.
Rev John Rosedale unveiled the plans to the congregation in November, asking them for support and donations to help make the dream into a reality.
And so far £168,000 has been pledged by generous locals, to add to the £62,000 already in the church funds to put the fundraising at nearly half way to its target.
Plans include an extension, a foyer with mezzanine floor, kitchen area, and accessible access and toilets to ensure the building can be enjoyed by the whole community.
Rev Rosedale, Saddleworth’s Team Vicar, explained: “The church is good but it could be better. We want to provide better facilities for people of all ages.
“We are looking shabby. We are not glorifying God with this building. It needs some work to make it ready for the 21st century.
“I would like to think we can do something to last and be used for the next 50 years and be an asset for the community.”
It is hoped the facilities will be used by more groups throughout the week, as it is already for coffee mornings, Irish dance classes, a quilting group, a keep fit class, and a youth drop-in.
Rev Rosedale added: “How long do you think that Sainsbury’s would last if they were closed Monday to Saturday and only opened on a Sunday? We are the same.
“£500,000 is the big dream to get everything done but that depends on donations and we will prioritise what locals want to do.”
But he warned: “We are not a social club. Any alterations must enhance the church so we can better proclaim the gospel and provide better facilities for worship.
“Anything we do must be to God’s glory. We must not take our eyes off the gospel. We have got to be in contact with the grassroots of our faith.”
Drawings were shown to the congregation, giving an artist’s impression of the vision including a large foyer with a mezzanine floor and entrance to accessible toilets and a new vestry.
There will be improved access to the church with a ramp, as well a new kitchen area so the church hall can be used for social events and occasions.
It is intended to keep the cross as the focal point at the front of the church, and refit the stained glass window inside behind the altar, or in the new extension.
The font will be moved to the back, a feature will be made of St Hilda’s Window, and the pulpit will be returned to Heights Church.
Rev Rosedale said: “The interior layout means there are constraints on what can be undertaken currently so we need to change that.
“Times have changed. When I was a boy we had running water only in the outhouses. We had no mobile phones. Things move on and we must too.”
The building on Church Street has served the community for more than 150 years, and was formerly the village school room.
It became the main Parish church, known as St Hilda’s and then St Thomas’s after Heights Church closed in 1966, and hosts regular weekly services.
Rev Rosedale concluded: “There is dry rot in the vestry – but God has been good as it is a wall we’re planning on taking down anyway! It is almost as though he is saying ‘go ahead and do it’.”
Locals are invited to pledge money up front or regularly to contribute to St Thomas’s renovation. For more information, please get in touch with Rev John Rosedale: 01457 874209.