A CHURCH has been given the go ahead to remove its pews so they can welcome local Muslim community events.
St Thomas Werneth in Oldham has been given the green light to remove the pews so it is able to hold more events within the wider community.
In a ruling last month, Geoffrey Tattersall QC said the church would be allowed to remove the pews as the proposals would have “major public benefit outweighing any harm resulting from the loss of the pews”.
The area, which is close to Manchester, has an 88 per cent non White-British population.
Its website encouraged people of all nationalities to attend the services.
They said: “We usually have at least six nationalities represented in the congregation on a given Sunday.
“Whatever your background you can be assured of a warm welcome to our services and our Parish life.”
The Chancellor of the Diocese of Manchester said: “Its continuing presence is important in enabling social cohesion and contact between local Muslims and Christians.
“The purpose of the re-ordering of the Church is to open up the Church for community use, as part of its service and mission to the mainly Muslim community in the parish and to enable the wider community to share its heritage.
“The Church wishes to be a place of welcome, growth and engagement for the local communities.”
The Venerable Cherry Vann, the Archdeacon of Rochdale said there was significant interfaith work going on in the area and there was a “genuine desire among some of the Muslim leaders to build bridges and work in partnership with the Church.
“Moreover there is clearly some goodwill towards the church in the (at present) largely Muslim community in Werneth and it is important that the church has the flexibility and capacity to exercise a ministry of hospitality to those living in the parish through a variety of community-based activities.”…