Bishop opens facilities at church celebration day

St Mary's Church, Kelbrook. (S)
St Mary's Church, Kelbrook. (S)
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The pews were packed at St Mary’s Church in Kelbrook for a service on Sunday when congregation members were in celebratory mood.

The Bishop of Ripon, the Rt Rev. James Bell, gave the sermon at the service, which was followed by celebration garden party marking the church’s turnaround in fortunes over the last two years.

The Bishop of Ripon, the Rt Rev James, opens the new kitchen and toilet facilities at St Mary's Church, Kelbrook, helped by young members of the congregation.

The Bishop of Ripon, the Rt Rev James, opens the new kitchen and toilet facilities at St Mary's Church, Kelbrook, helped by young members of the congregation.

The Bishop’s sermon had a theme of pulling together, and his duties did not stop there as he was on hand to cut a red ribbon to officially open the church’s new facilities.

Eighteen months ago, picturesque St Mary’s had just nine parishioners and faced mounting money worries.

But help from financial benefactors, including Ted Fort, Dennis Mendoros and the Towers family and hours of unpaid hard graft have given it a new lease of life.

The church has gone from having just a cold water tap to a new kitchen, toilets, a new roof and a resin path in the churchyard.

Church warden Julie Davies said: “It was a really good day. We did superbly well. I would say there were around 110 people and 25 children, so the church was absolutely full.

“The Bishop was very good with the children. He got them to line up in a long line and we had a countdown for the ribbon cutting. Part of what he said was the importance of having churches which are fit for use and how all needed to have facilities like we have.

“Two of the workers, Brian Newell and Mick Conboy, who have done work for free were given thank you hampers and myself and Christine Bullock were given two beautiful posies of flowers. The church was decorated in flowers from those who have donated or bequeathed money and it just looked lovely.

“Everybody kept saying the facilities look like they have been there forever. They are very sympathetic to the character.”

No summer celebration is complete without bunting, cake and a marquee, and that is what awaited outside.

Mrs Davies added: “We had the marquee up and there were children’s games, the string quartet played and the flag on the church was flying. We had been praying all week for the weather to be kind and, thankfully, it was warm and dry.

“There was all sorts of party food – Bucks Fizz, strawberries and cream, cakes, quiches and sausage rolls. It was wonderful to see the church busy and everybody having a great time.”