Bid to save church for the community

Coun Laurie Harrison thinks the closure of the Methodist church in South Elmsall is a shame wants it to stay open for the good of the community. (H521A238)
Coun Laurie Harrison thinks the closure of the Methodist church in South Elmsall is a shame wants it to stay open for the good of the community. (H521A238)
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AN HISTORIC church that has stood at the heart of South Elmsall for 100 years could be lost to the community when the congregation moves to a new home.

Worshippers at Barnsley Road Methodist Church were told about the planned closure just days after the iconic building celebrated it centenary.

Church members are set to be moved to Trinity Methodist Church on Ash Grove after the last service is held in December, when, the Express understands, the building will be sold.

But hope could come in the form of the senior minister at St Luke’s Church, Martyn Sullivan, who hopes to retain the building both as a place of worship and a community hub.

He said St Luke’s Church will put in a bid for the building after the final service at the Methodist Church on December 9.

The building currently hosts charity coffee mornings and is seen by residents as an important part of their town, something Pastor Sullivan wants to live on.

He said: “We want it to continue as it is and it would be a great shame if it was to close completely.

“We hope to modernise the back part of the building but then to keep it running as it has been for all these years.”

Even though St Luke’s – based at Carlton Road, South Elmsall, is an evangelical church, there would only be slight changes to the services. He said: “It’s important we retain the building and its services for the local community.”

The Rev Richard Oldroyd, the superintendent minister of Aire and Calder Methodist Circuit – which the church is part of – said dwindling numbers were the cause of the closure.

He said: “It’s with deep regret and sadness the church has decided to cease worship and close. The falling numbers are just not enough to keep it going.”

Coun Laurie Harrison said the closure was indicative of the times.

He said: “It’s a tragedy after the church has stood in the town for so long, and was the centre of many activities for many people, but it just reflects what is happening in society.

“But I think if we work together, we can keep it going.

“If we get young ones singing in the choir it that would add another dimension to the church and hopefully improve numbers.”