A VISION to save Saddleworth’s iconic church in Uppermill has been revealed as the community is invited to a consultation meeting on Tuesday March 26.
The Rev Canon Sharon Jones recently announced the grade two listed church could close in 10 years unless locals could raise £1million.
Now, urging villagers to get involved in the consultation, the Saddleworth Team Rector is drawing on the church’s distinguished history to promote the vision for its future.
She said: “For 20 years, congregations have discussed ways of accentuating the light and space and colour of Saddleworth Church and rediscovering Celtic spirituality.
“We are now ready to begin a new chapter. The building crisis is a focus for doing something radical and creative,” she declared.
“As part of the Seeing is Believing restoration project, there is also a desire to reorder the internals of the building by replacing the pews with chairs and to reimagine the church for a different world.
“We are very conscious of the realities of life for many in the community and St Chads wishes to partner with business in the creation of The Pilgrims Rest coffee shop in the church.”
And she promised: “The church would provide a safe space for the lonely and the vulnerable.
“It will to be a place where young people can meet friends and be supported through the challenges of mental health. We would to partner with healthcare professionals in providing a listening space.
“While retaining its heart as a spiritual home and primarily a place of worship, St Chads dreams of a building fit for exhibitions, concerts and educational visits for children.
“There is a desire to protect and improve graveyard care and access with nature trails, seats and historic mapping.
‘We are looking for partners to invest and work with us, to reconnect Church and community and build a new future together.”
The imposing church receives no statutory funding and is entirely dependent on donations and legacies.
A recent application for Heritage Lottery funding was unsuccessful.
An architect’s report three years ago highlighted major issues with the church roof and windows.
The Rev Canon Jones invites everyone to attend the public consultation meeting on Tuesday, March 26 at 7.30pm in St Chads Church.
Find out more online: cofeinsaddleworth.org.uk