People in Manchester can now attend church at a pub.
The Mosely Arms in Bolton has become the venue for an informal alternative to traditional weekly worship.
“We just want local people who are often completely off church to encounter Jesus and the church to grow with those people, and for local leadership to be grown,” Rev Ben Woodfield, the vicar of New Life Church, told Premier.
The 'New Life' initiative is part of the Antioch Network, a Church of England church planting network that works primarily within the Diocese of Manchester.
Run by Rev Woodfield and his colleague Revd John Brett, the network aims to plant at least 16 churches by 2026.
New Life Church is itself a plant of another church plant located in a council estate three miles away on the other side of Bolton.
“Generally we don't meet in traditional church buildings, we find those third spaces in the community and the reason we do that is accessibility.
“We're going for people who are third, fourth generation unchurched. That's who we're wanting to reach. So we just found that neutral spaces are a little easier for people to walk through the door,” Rev Woodfield continued.
Rev Woodfield and his team came up with the pub idea while prayer walking around the area.
“We were walking past the Mosely Arms and Joe, a member of our team just said, why don't go and chat to Bernie, the landlady of the pub, this is a great place for church.
“Bernie was out sweeping the front, and as we approached her she said: ‘Everybody in!’. We all pile into this pub, and she said, ‘It's yours on a Sunday morning, come and use it. You can have it for free’.”
The project was launched in March and has already seen growth in church membership.