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Reprieve on cards for the Bethel

PUBLISHED: 10:39 19 September 2008 | UPDATED: 21:19 05 July 2010

A JOURNAL reader has given fresh hope of a last-minute reprieve for a Lowestoft church which is under threat of closure.

Leaders of the Bethel, in Battery Green Road, have been given until the end of this month to leave the church which has been a Christian centre for sailors and fishermen for more than 100 years.

A JOURNAL reader has given fresh hope of a last-minute reprieve for a Lowestoft church which is under threat of closure.

Leaders of the Bethel, in Battery Green Road, have been given until the end of this month to leave the church which has been a Christian centre for sailors and fishermen for more than 100 years.

The building has been put up for sale by the Sailors' Society as Lowestoft no longer has a sizeable sea-going community.

Developers are believed to be offering in the region of £155,000 to £160,000 for the building.

Church leaders at the Bethel have been trying to find a way that the building can continue to be used as a Christian centre and The Journal launched its Save Our Bethel campaign.

As a result of the campaign a reader, who wants to remain anonymous, has offered to purchase the building so that it can continue to be used as an independent church.

While leaders at the Bethel are delighted at the offer they are still faced with the problem of finding the annual rent of £8,000.

John Durrant, a trustee at the Bethel, said: “We very much appreciate this offer but we cannot commit ourselves to the rent required of £8,000 per annum. We are a mainly elderly congregation and the uncertainty over the past three years of the future of the Bethel has meant that more members have passed away than have joined us.

“If interested parties formed a consortium or trust to pay the annual rent for the Bethel we would be very happy to continue its stewardship.”

Mr Durrant said the mystery benefactor has past connections with the fishing industry and was keen to see the Bethel continue in Lowestoft.

Meanwhile, leaders of the church are looking at various temporary venues to hold services until a more permanent base is found.

Everyone is being invited to the building for what could be the final Harvest thanksgiving services.

A family service is being held at 10.30am on Sunday and an evening service at 6.30pm.

At 7.30pm on Monday a Harvest Praise is being led by the Bethel's own singing group Inspiration.

A final Goodbye Bethel service is being held at 3pm on Sunday, September 28, before the church closes on September 30.

Anyone who can help the Bethel can telephone 01502 573379 or email thebethel@live.co.uk

Objections to the Bethel being sold for commercial development should be made to: The Company Secretary, Sailors' Society, 350 Shipley Road, Southampton SO5 3HY.

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