A century old Chorley church is set to close its doors for the final time as it joins forces with another.
Park Road Methodist Church will shut for good as congregation numbers decline, and those who have been attending for decades will be expected to attend mass at Trinity Methodist Church in Gillibrand Walks from June.
Rev Andrew Mashiter, who has been the minister at Park Road for almost seven years, said: “It does pain me to lose this, but we’ve gone from a congregation of around 70 to about 40 people.
“We’ve been forced to face up to reality. A lot of our older members have passed away, and there is nobody to maintain the church.
“We’ve had to compromise and bring Chorley’s two Methodist churches together.”
The suggestion was first raised to combine the congregations in 2009, but it was initially thought that a new building would be used.
However, because of the recession and the lack of a suitable site in Chorley, the church council decided that Trinity Church will be redeveloped to accommodate the change, and will be called the Chorley Methodist Church.
Now, the Park Road building will be sold, and the proceeds put towards the redevelopment of Trinity.
The original church was built at the site in 1842, but part of it was knocked down and rebuilt in 1978, after members of the community raised enough money, along with some grant funds.
“I can understand why people are upset about the situation after all the effort they put in 33 years ago,” Rev Mashiter said. “I think they expected it to last another 100 years.”
Resident Anne Klinkenberg, 67, from Highfield Road South, has been going to Park Road for 36 years, and is also the organist there.
She said: “There’s a lot of dismay about this move, especially amongst the older members of the congregation who have enjoyed a lot of family occasions there.
“Some were christened and married there, and thought they’d have their funerals there too. It’s such a shame that it has to close, and people are really distraught about it.”
Although Park Road will cease to be a place of worship, it is set to stay open for the groups who meet there for the foreseeable future, including weight loss clubs and dance sessions, but Anne worries it could be demolished at some stage.
“It may get pulled down,” she said. “But it would be dreadful for it to just disappear off the map.”
She added: “I don’t think religion is popular anymore, especially with younger people who have other things to do on a Sunday morning, like playing football.
“You just can’t compete with that.”
The final service is due to take place at Park Road on June 12.