Fears for future of landmark Wolverhampton church
An iconic city centre church is facing an uncertain future amid dwindling congregation numbers.
There are fears for the future of Darlington Street Methodist Church, after church leaders held a crunch meeting at the weekend.
The Grade II*-listed church has been a city centre landmark since its construction more than 115 years ago.
However, Rev Christopher Collins, Methodist Presbyter, said it is facing 'increasing challenges' and leaders are 'exploring how they respond'.
The city's Conservative group leader Wendy Thompson said she was disappointed to hear the church was struggling and hoped leaders could find a positive solution.
Renowned architect Arthur Marshall designed the church in 1899. It opened its doors for the first time in 1901.
Rev Collins said: "There is no doubt that Darlington Street Methodist Church is significant to the life of Wolverhampton and is an iconic building in the cityscape.
"While we treasure our place in the city, it comes with increasing challenges.
"At the moment the church council is at the very early stages of exploring how we respond to the challenges so we can serve the city centre in the best way we can to live out God’s unconditional love."
Councillor Thompson told the Express & Star: "These old buildings come with very high maintenance costs attached.
"It is a real shame to hear the church is facing these challenges.
"But with less people in the congregation there is more pressure on the people still using the church to find the maintenance money needed to keep the building going.
"If it did ever come to a situation where the building was left empty it would be extremely important for a new use to be found.
"The church is such an important building for Wolverhampton and has a main position in the city centre."