Historic Stourbridge Church To Hold Final Service

St John’s United ReformED Church in Stourbridge will hold its last ever service on New Year’s Day, before closing it's doors for the last time.

The congregation has dwindled in recent years to just a handful of members and the grade II listed building is in desperate need of repairs, so churchgoers have reluctantly decided to call it a day. A final Sunday Service is set to take place on January 1st at 10:30am. Jon Syed, church secretary, said It had taken "a lot of soul searching by the congregation to come to this very sad decision".

The writing had been on the wall for some time for the landmark church, as the roof has been leaking and the building is in urgent need of costly repairs. A few weeks ago, Black Country Radio moved from the premises to new studios at The Waterfront, Brierley Hill.

The station, which started out as 102.5 The Bridge, had been based at St John's since it first started broadcasting in 2008. Bosses set up camp in a corner of the Narthex and brought in increased footfall to the church, turning it into a community hub after the Reverend Stuart Scott issued an appeal to the public in 2007 urging people and community groups to use or lose the building. Chief Executive Officer, Alex Totney, said:

"We greatly enjoyed our time at St John's. It was a very good home for us for many years and we are greatly saddened that the building is closing.

"The church's issues were well documented and, unfortunately, our own expansion plans to better serve the community could only be realised by relocating to new premises elsewhere, which we achieved in early December.

"We remain thankful to all at St John's for accommodating us and giving us a home there since 2008 and hope the building can find new owners and be used for a different purpose; it's a beautiful church and it would be terrible to see it fall into further disrepair."

The Black Country Foodbank also has an outlet there which distributes food to needy individuals and families on Tuesdays and Friday mornings. Rainbows and Guides also meet at the church which has hosted concerts and art exhibitions in recent months, in a bid to invite the community inside.

However there have been no weddings, funerals or christenings for some time - and the congregation has fallen to around just eight members in recent times. The church, which dates back to 1860, has also been without a minister since October 2015 when Reverend Stuart Scott left.

Its situation is echoed up and down the country, where thousands of Victorian and older churches stand underused or empty as congregations dwindled and towns developed away from their historic centres. St John’s remains a magnificent and impressive building with tremendous acoustics and lots of potential. It also holds a special place in many people’s hearts. Local historian, Dr Paul Collins, commented:

“Personally I am very sad to learn that St John’s is to close its doors. My parents were married there and I was christened there, so the church has great sentimental attachments for me.

"However, buildings like this cannot be saved on sentiment or good wishes alone and I hope that an appropriate and sustainable community use can be found for it".


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