Derelict church reopens for growing Greek orthodox congregation

By The Sentinel  |  Posted: November 07, 2011

The Sentinel
A DERELICT church has been reopened to become the latest home for a booming parish.
The Orthodox Parish of Saint Michael the Archangel started with just eight members at a chapel in Audley.
But congregation numbers have swelled to 60 and the church has been looking for a bigger venue for four years.
Now services are being held at the former Dresden Parish Church, in Red Bank, Dresden, after a deal was signed with the Lichfield Diocese.
The parish is currently renting out the church – which is also known as Dresden Church of the Resurrection – for £1-a-month as part of a 10-year repair lease.
The parish was set-up in 1994 by Father Samuel Carter, who spent 23 years as a Church of England priest before converting to the Antiochian Greek Orthodox religion.
Father Carter, aged 64, of Tittensor, said: “We contacted the Church of England which owns the building because our church in Audley was too small to host some services.
“It was a matter of finding the right church at the right time, even though it did take a long time to sort out the lease.
“We have had a large rise in congregation numbers.”
The church has already been awarded £2,000 from the North Staffordshire Historic Churches fund to help with repairs at its new base.
It has already spent £3,500 fixing the central heating and £800 to repair the roof tiles.
The parish’s book store manager Kim Carson, aged 41, of Dresden, said: “Our congregation has pulled together to work on the repairs but we have a big journey ahead.
“We are hoping to carry out fund-raising to cover some of the costs.”
Further work on the church includes the restoration of the windows, which were boarded up after being vandalised.
Members of the congregation are delighted with their new location, although services are also continuing at its former Wesleyan chapel in Wereton Road, Audley.
Choir director Martin Shorthouse, aged 45, of Audley, said: “It’s definitely a bigger church, but it’s also better.
“I’ve been a member of the parish for five years and this is a step in the right direction.
“There is a lot of work to do on the church but we are all pulling together to repair bits and bobs.”
The church practises the religion of Antiochian Greek Orthodox.
It has members who are originally from Romania, Greece and Cyprus, as well as North Staffordshire residents who have converted to the religion.
Services are held at the two churches on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings.
For more information about the church call 01782 351044.


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