12:45pm Thursday 30th May 2013
By Mark Tallentire
TWO former church buildings which have stood unused for more than a decade have been brought back to life, united as one church.
The former United Reformed Church (URC) building, on Claypath, in Durham city centre, and the former Presbyterian Church which neighbours it, have been refurbished and turned into a new home for Christchurch Durham.
The Anglican evangelical church moved in during March, ahead of an official launch at Easter.
Administrator Chris Wood said: “We’re very pleased to be in and have it finished. The builders have done a fantastic job.”
The 1886-built URC building has been substantially refurbished, to create a 250-seater capacity auditorium and 80-seat balcony where Sunday services are held.
The 1751-built former Presbyterian Church to the rear has been converted into offices, meeting rooms and toilets.
Finally, the two neighbouring buildings are now linked by a new-build lobby and reception area, with disabled access.
Mr Wood said the church was still exploring what opportunities the new facilities will open up but Christchurch, which has three congregations, has already been able to hold a whole-church day, along with study groups and informal meetings.
It is the first time the church has had its own building, having previously met in Durham Sixth Form Centre and Durham Town Hall.
Sunday morning services attract around 130 adults and 40 children, evening services are attended by about 80 people and the University Church numbers around 180.
Christchurch has been looking into getting its own building for some years and first looked at the Claypath property in October 2009.
At the time, there was rival interest in turning the building into a community arts centre, but the plans failed to come to fruition.
Most of the refurbishment took place between last August and March.
The church, which is led by senior minister Tony Jones, is open for people to drop in and look round. Volunteers, known as associates, are often available to greet visitors.
For more information on Christchurch Durham, visit christchurchdurham.org or call 0191-370-9063.
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