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Vital roof repairs start at West Leeds church

By Katherine Turner

Urgent roof repairs have begun at St John’s Church in Wortley.

Discussions first started in 2015 when it became apparent that the ageing roof needed attention. 

Wendy Gaunt, church warden and treasurer told West Leeds Dispatch: “We knew that the roof would be coming to the end of its natural life, and we knew it would need massive works on it. In 2017 we started to look at the church and ask: was it viable, did we have enough funds and enough resources to warrant doing the church roof?”

St John’s Church has seen a recent increase to its parishioner numbers and the use of its premises by local community groups such as popular Clubbercise classes and councillor surgeries.

Repairs to St John’s Church roof in Wortley. Photo: Wendy Gaunt

“Within this time we have also had the West Leeds review where the Diocese were looking at the future of church buildings and parishes to see if they were viable and did they work. It was discussed whether the church would be closing,” added Wendy.

“They saw that we had worked hard and the church had a potential to grow. That galvanised us to keep going.”

Luckily for the local community St John’s Church didn’t close and repairs on the roof started last Wednesday. Wendy explained that the repairs should take around six or seven weeks and that rather than replacing the whole roof they have found a system called Storm Flex that enabled the repairs to be completed without the need for scaffolding. 

It has taken until now for the church to have enough capital to complete the project. Wendy explained that each church is responsible for its own funding.

Workmen carry out repairs to St John’s Church roof in Wortley. Photo: Wendy Gaunt

Wendy added: “We don’t get any funding, the only funding we get as a church and a parish is what we raise.

“I think there is a misconception that churches are kept going either by the Church of England or that we get government funding. The only money we get is what we raise on a collection plate. We have had to balance whether it is morally right to spend that amount of money on a building that is only used for an hour a week. But if you build your church, the church becomes the people, not the building.”

Some additional funding has been raised from the sale of St Michael’s Church Hall and the sale of St James’ Church at New Farnley. Wendy said that they still need funds to help with new heating, sound and wiring systems but is positive on the future of the church and the many groups and individuals they support in the local community.

If you would like any further information on how to support the church you can find their Facebook page here, their website here or e-mail hello@wortleyandfarnleychurch.org.uk. St John’s Church is on Dixon Lane Road, Leeds LS12 4RU.

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