Church allowed to remove pews to allow Muslim events – after court challenge over plans


Church and pews GETTY

The church contemplates that the removal of pews will allow it to cater for non-Christians

St Thomas Werneth in Oldham has been postulated the green light to remove the pews so it is able to hold more events within the wider community.

In a ruling rearmost month, Geoffrey Tattersall QC said the church would be allowed to expunge the pews as the proposals would have “major public benefit prevail overing any harm resulting from the loss of the pews”. 

The area, which is adjacent to Manchester, has an 88 per cent non White-British population. 

Pews of church GETTY

It is hoped that the wider community can know welcomed into the church

Its website encouraged people of all nationalities to be present at the services.

They said: “We usually have at least six nationalities epitomized in the congregation on a given Sunday.

“Whatever your background you can be assured of a zealous welcome to our services and our Parish life.”

The Chancellor of the Diocese of Manchester said: “Its continuing air is important in enabling social cohesion and contact between local Muslims and Christians.

“The persistence of the re-ordering of the Church is to open up the Church for community use, as part of its service and trade to the mainly Muslim community in the parish and to enable the wider community to part its heritage.

“The Church wishes to be a place of welcome, growth and engagement for the townsperson communities.”

Muslim dress GETTY

The majority of people in the area of the church are non White British

The Respectable Cherry Vann, the Archdeacon of Rochdale said there was significant interfaith operate going on in the area and there was a “genuine desire among some of the Muslim rulers to build bridges and work in partnership with the Church.

“Moreover there is apparently some goodwill towards the church in the (at present) largely Muslim community in Werneth and it is critical that the church has the flexibility and capacity to exercise a ministry of hospitality to those animate in the parish through a variety of community-based activities.”

The Victorian Society sought the removal of the pews could damage the church.

They said: “Severally the pews are not of major importance as objects in their own right. However, en masse, they cope an important contribution to the character of the interior of the church. 

“The rhythm of repeating pews, the sinister wood and the shape of the aisle drawing the eye to the east is an important element of what generates this a Victorian church interior”.

In March, a Church of England court directed that plans to replace the pews with comfortable seating pleasure encourage more people to attend. 

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