Pub to dispense holy spirits

09 September 2009

by Ed Beavan

Called to the bar: the Old Custom House Inn at Langport, Somerset, which is to become a church-run pub

Called to the bar: the Old Custom House Inn at Langport, Somerset, which is to become a church-run pub

PARISHES in a Bath & Wells team ministry have bought a pub in the centre of Langport, so that they can reconnect with the community.

Langport Area Churches, in Somerset, have bought the Old Custom House Inn and plan to re­open it as The Angel, its name until 1975. All Saints’, Langport, became redundant 12 years ago, and services now take place at the nearby church of St Mary’s, Huish Episcopi.

The Revd Hugh Ellis, Team Rector of Langport, said that in medieval times, many churches owned and ran pubs in England. He said that there had been a “sense of vision” among the team to be “among the people” in the town. They had been “keep­ing an eye out for a place in the town to be a shop window for the church”.

By selling St Mary’s church hall they were able to find £200,000 to buy the pub, which is “very run- down”. They also received a loan from the diocese of Bath & Wells for the project.

Plans for the redevelopment of the pub, which has an area of 3800 square feet, include a prayer room, a Christian bookshop and library, two bars serving local beers and wine, one bar that will incorporate a café for tea and coffee, and a confer­ence room with a skittle alley which could be used to hold services.

The stable block will be converted into an area for young people, with internet facilities, and a kitchen and a team office will also be installed. A lift will ensure the pub has disabled access.

Mr Ellis said a small minority of people had opposed the new pub, but emphasised that it would be open to all. “There’s a strong sense of the spirit of God drawing us into this. It’s been tough and it’s been testing, and we’ve depended on the Lord’s provision.”

Subject to planning permission, and if the building programme runs­ to schedule, the pub, a Grade II listed building, could open its doors to customers next Easter.

Reprieve for family centre. A family centre in Bacup, in the diocese of Manchester, has been reprieved after churches in the area rallied round to save it.

Ministers from the Anglican, Roman Catholic, Baptist, and Meth­-o­­dist churches in Bacup for­med a charity to keep the centre open, securing funding from the diocese of Manchester, the Church Urban Fund, and the social-housing pro­vider Green Vales.

The centre provides housing advice and youth services for local families, and has hundreds of people on its books.

The Revd David Woodhall, Team Vicar of Bacup, chairs the trustees for the charity that now runs the centre. He said it has a “holistic ap­proach, and aims to restore people’s self-esteem and dignity”.

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