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Bethel given notice to quit

PUBLISHED: 10:05 05 September 2008 | UPDATED: 21:12 05 July 2010

THE race is on today to save a Lowestoft church that has been serving the community for more than 150 years.

Leaders at the Bethel, in Battery Green Road, have been rocked this week when they were given notice to quit the building by the end of September.

THE race is on today to save a Lowestoft church that has been serving the community for more than 150 years.

Leaders at the Bethel, in Battery Green Road, have been rocked this week when they were given notice to quit the building by the end of September.

The announcement from the building's owners, the Sailors' Society, came just a few days after the Charity Commissioners withdrew their permission for the sale to go ahead.

Unless £160,000 can be raised by September 21, when the Bethel's trustees meet, the building will be sold to developers.

John Durrant, a trustee at the Bethel, said: “As stated in The Journal last week the Charity Commissioners have withdrawn their permission for the Sailors' Society to sell the Bethel.

“However, it has transpired that the society did not need the consent to dispose of the Bethel for commercial development and are now proceeding with the sale.”

In spite of the many pledges and donations from Journal readers and other supporters the Bethel trustees are “nowhere near” being able to make an offer for the building.

When leaders and trustees of the Bethel met with representatives from the Sailors' Society they were handed a notice to quit by September 30.

“The only way the Bethel can be saved now as an independent church serving the community of Lowestoft is for someone to come up with a donation of £160,000 in the next few days,” said Mr Durrant.

It is understood the society has already received a bid of £155,000 from a potential developer.

Trustees at the Bethel thanked everyone who has made donations and they will be contacting them in the near future.

Pastor Morris Baldry said he was sad that the building which has served as a church in Lowestoft for such a long time was being sold and that leaders at the Bethel have been given such a short period of time to leave.

“We hope that even at this late stage a benefactor comes forward and the church can continue to serve the people of Lowestoft.

“But even if the building is sold we will still try and find another building in Lowestoft where the congregation and fellowship of the Bethel can continue to meet,” he said.

In the letter from the Sailors' Society company secretary Robert Adams said: “As a tenant at will your right to occupy the property may be brought to an end at any time. We hereby notify you that we determine you interest and right of possession in the property immediately and require you to quit and deliver up possession of the property.

“You now have a reasonable time in which to remove yourself and your chattels from the property and we view that 30 September, 2008, is a reasonable period and therefore expect vacant possession by this date.”

Earlier a spokesman for the society said that the Bethel was set up by a charitable trust in the 1800s to provide a building for Christian worship for sailors and seagoing families.

Because there is no longer a sizeable seagoing community at Lowestoft the Sailors' Society wants to sell the Bethel and use the money to support seagoing communities elsewhere.

Anyone who would like to help save the Bethel or knows of a suitable building in Lowestoft where the congregation can continue to meet is asked to contact Pastor Morris Baldry on 07771 567216.

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