Church appeal launch

Valerie and Malcolm Stewart  outside the Greatham Independent Methodist Church.
Valerie and Malcolm Stewart outside the Greatham Independent Methodist Church.

A VILLAGE church has launched a renovation fund as it undergoes a revival.

The Independent Methodist Church, in Greatham, has vowed to raise thousands of pounds to carry out vital repairs.

This weekend, the church in High Street celebrates its 51st anniversary and is looking forward to a brighter future after reaching a crossroads whether to close or not.

Members considered calling it a day after attendances dwindled to just a handful.

But the congregation has slowly started to rise, and now the church plans to bring the building back to its former glory.

Church treasurer Malcolm Stewart said: “We got to a point where it was either close or go for it and stay open and try to get the money to do all the repairs.

“Attendances went down to just a few people, but they are slowly coming back up again.

“We need new windows and damp-proofing, plastering and other things to make the place look spick and span again.”

The church is appealing to the community for help and advice on the best places to secure grants from towards the work.

Malcolm added: “We believe there are groups and grants out there and would be grateful for any help or information.”

The church hopes attendances will also benefit from any new housing developments earmarked for land to the west of Hartlepool.

Valerie Stewart, the church secretary, added: “Hopefully we can hold some events and get some help and support from other people.

“We are a very small congregation in Greatham, but there is an interest there.

“The main thing is to get the building back to a state of good repair.”

Although the church building dates back to 1883, it has been run solely by its members since 1961.

Previous high-profile supporters include Hartlepool shipbuilder Sir William Gray, who was a benefactor and regular attender.

Some of the church’s foundation stones were made by the Gray family, and members suspect the roof was also built by the family.

And Sunderland businessman Reg Vardy regularly preached at the church.