New deal saves historic Black Country church

The future of a landmark Wednesbury church threatened with closure has been secured in a new deal.

New deal saves historic Black Country church

St James' Church is set to remain as a place of worship with a group understood to be in the final stages of taking it over.

It will no longer be a Church of England site but religious leaders have spoken of their relief that it will still be used as a place of worship rather than being demolished or converted into offices or housing, as has happened at other churches in the Black Country.

A group from the Eternal Order of Seraphim and Cherubim has been using the church and is currently trying to buy it.

St James' remains open as a Church of England venue for weddings, funerals and baptisms but this will cease when it changes hands.

But dwindling congregation numbers and spiralling debts totalling thousands of pounds means leaders can no longer afford to run St James' Church.

Father Martin Ennis, who is overseeing the church until it changes hands, said: "The building's future looks to be secured at the moment.

"St James' as a CofE Church is open for baptisms, weddings and funerals only. This will come to an end as the building is sold and a new pastoral scheme for Wednesbury comes into effect.

"I am of course delighted that St James is continuing to be used for Christian worship and pleased to offer my prayers that ESOCS will flourish there."

The news will bring comfort to those who feared the impressive church, which has stood off the main Holyhead Road since the mid-19th century, could face the bulldozers or be converted into homes or offices.

Several Black Country churches have been targeted by developers in recent years as many have struggled to survive as congregations have dwindled.

Halesowen Baptist Church, which closed more than two years ago, is set to be converted into offices while St Luke's Church is set to be demolished, a move which would erase 170 years of history.

Wednesbury councillor Elaine Costigan said: "If the church is going to be saved I am delighted.

"It is a shame because we are losing all our historic buildings so it is great that this is being kept.

"It would have been criminal to get rid of it. This is part of the history of Wednesbury and I am sure everybody in Wednesbury will be delighted."

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