A Methodist Chapel in North Cornwall is fighting for its survival, having to find thousands of pounds for vital roof repairs - despite being surrounded by multi-million pound homes.
The church congregation, in the popular tourist and celebrity area of Rock, say the building is prime real estate for developers, but they are determined to keep it as a house of God.
John Godwin who is the church's organist and treasurer has been speaking to Premier about the situation :
“We’re the last of the little Methodist churches in this corner of North Cornwall. Our congregation by number has gone down, certainly since COVID. But believe it or not, we're rebuilding and we've jumped from 12 to 24 members in the last two months, because we're desperate to preserve this iconic Church, which is now 120 years old.
“Our roof needs replacing as the nails are all rusted and the tiles need replacing at great expense. So now we just need to find the money.
“We’re now in an area where there are a diminishing number of residents. That’s typical of course of Cornwall.
“We feel it is our mission to stand firm. We were surrounded by residential small bungalows in large plots. But they’ve now been replaced by very high priced properties - lovely properties - but we are left as a tiny sort of oasis, in one corner. The value of the church as a piece of estate is worth far more than the roof is worth. We are worth more to sell than to stay – to some people.”
The area is popular with second home owners and also mega-rich celebrities – among them the chef Gordon Ramsay.
But John Godwin, who has also been playing the organ at the church for 75 years, says that very few of the new home-owners visit the church :
“We’ve seen very little of them, which is sad. But what we do see, of course, is our own regular visitors to North Cornwall, that come two or three times a year, and desperately want us to remain open and continue the mission in this corner. Our furthest regular traveller is from Inverness, who comes three times a year and graces us with her presence at worship and gives us immense support.”
John says God is at work and despite the pressures of raising the money, the congregation is determined to maintain a Christian presence in the area :
“Unbelievably, from being down in the dumps last November and the threat of closure by Easter, we are now seeking grants. The local circuit has loaned us the £32,000 so that we can get the roof repaired immediately to avoid deteriorating next winter. So yes, we're trying to raise the funds to repay the loan.
"Rock Methodist Church still has a part to play in this fragmented community. Having served the community for a century, we are now turning to the community to help it continue."
For more information about Rock Methodist Church contact 07508 081413.