Sanctuary Church closes its doors
A CHURCH in Staple Hill has closed its doors for the final time.
The Sanctuary Church, on Staple Hill High Street, was founded 25 years ago.
As well as church activities, the building also hosted community groups, including the Powerhouse youth club, Streetvibes dance group, Happy Hands toddler group and a mature adults keep fit, and supported events including Christmas on the Hill.
Members of the congregation are joining other churches in the area, while the future of the building has yet to be decided.
Minister Nigel Farmer, who helped found the church, said: "It is always sad for a church to close. We know the community has enjoyed many fun programs at the building.
"As an independent church, that doesn't run with any outside support, we are even more dependent on the members who attend to run all the many aspects of a healthy church.
"The members that love and follow Jesus have provided all the finance to support the programmes for the past 25 years; we are so very grateful to each of them."
He said the church's longer services may not have been suitable for "a generation that is in a hurry", saying: "Let's be honest, if a community wants a church and believes and follows Jesus as Lord, they would attend that church on occasions, so as to worship, encourage and serve one another."
Nigel had decided it was time to step down as the minister at the church, and the high costs of maintaining and heating the building, which is more than 100 years old, were another factor in the church's trustees deciding to close.
He said: "After starting the church 25 years ago, and working as the Minister for the past 10 years, it has become a tiring work, and the need for a change had become clear to me.
"Covid-19 has certainly given many of us the opportunity to stop rushing around and reflect on what is important to us. So I will join the many who are out there looking for work, whilst finding another great church where I can worship God and serve the community.
"The trustees had looked at options to employ another minister, from both within and outside, but it was felt that there was more to be done than simply replacing the lead person. Therefore the other options were not viable.
"Now they are looking at all options, so that the charity can benefit from a sale, and use the funds to the very best for charitable work, both home and abroad. Other churches have shown an interest, and of course there is always the possibility of building developers."