Minister’s ‘tears of joy’ after makeover of church in Chester

Reporter:

Steve Creswell

A MINISTER shed “tears of joy” when he clamped eyes on his church after a £500,000 makeover.

The Lord Mayor of Chester, Cllr Razia Daniels, unveiled a plaque at the Wesley Church Centre on Sunday, marking the end of the refurbishment project.

The Rev Neil Stacey, superintendent minister, said: “Our worship space was proving too restrictive for the way we want to worship on Sundays and it also needed a radical transformation if it was to contribute to our welcome during the week.

“This project has delivered all that I could have hoped for – and so much more. I have been moved to tears of joy several times in the last few days, as a whole range of people have come in and been uplifted by the transformation.”

Officially designed by Chester architect Thomas Harrison and opened in 1812, the Grade II listed building on St John Street is recognised as a heritage asset to the city.

Conservation architects, Donald Insall Associates led the project design work, while the sensitive refurbishment was undertaken by Armitage Construction of Manchester – the oldest surviving family-owned building company in the North West.

Pews have been removed, the floor levelled and a large central roof light and new lighting scheme installed – emphasising its classical columns and arches.

Underfloor heating improves comfort and a rising stage complements the excellent acoustics to make for a superb concert venue.

Peter Harper, contracts manager for Armitage Construction, said: “We are proud to have been part of the refurbishment of Wesley Church in Chester.

“This has been a very proactive and successful partnership between all parties, culminating in the transformation of such a vital part of Chester’s community.”

Andrew Flanagan, an associate of Donald Insall, said: “Over its history the church has undergone many different phases of refurbishment to meet the changing needs of its congregation.

“This latest design is a new chapter in the ongoing history of Wesley Church and we are pleased to have been part of the team”.

Andrew Herbert, mission development officer, shared the church’s vision for how the space might be used in the week.

He said: “We feel called to make Wesley a truly inclusive place, where people from all walks of life can be and belong together.

“We want the new space to become a home for local groups and activities that share this vision.”

The scheme cost £567,000 in total with funds coming from numerous sources.

Open 10am to 4pm from Monday to Saturday, Wesley offers a café, play area, fair trade shop and a range of activities for babies and toddlers including a crèche, toddler group, singing and story times.

Used by many community groups, it also hosts weekly classical recitals, exhibitions and school visits.

See full story in the Chester Leader

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