A BURNLEY preacher who made a ‘life-changing’ decision to join the ministry more than 40 years ago has retired.

Margaret Golding, of Barnes Court, Burnley, gave her final message at her home church, Mount Zion Independent Methodist Church, in Cliviger, where she was presented with a number of books by church leaders.

The 79-year-old was then guest of honour at a special party to celebrate her retirement, although she will retain her role as a minister in the small Independent Methodist Church denomination.

The former curtain-maker decided to become a preacher in 1971, while she held the post of president of the Barnoldswick Independent Methodist Church.

She said: “I started crying when the preacher began her message and then I gave my heart to the Lord, along with 22 young people.

“It was a life-changing decision, and one which I have never regretted.”

Margaret believes there were more than 1,000 people in the church at that Saturday night rally.

Her first message was in that church and her final one, last Sunday, was at Mount Zion, to where she switched her membership when she moved to Burnley with her late husband, George, some years ago.

She had met George at local dance halls while she was a dance instructor, and told the congregation at Mount Zion of her sadness when, some years ago, she had to agree to switch off his life-support machine after he had suffered two serious heart attacks.

Becoming a minister “just happened” she explained.

“People suggested it and I was accepted 34 years ago, after four years of study and training.

“I have never regretted that, either.

“I have met so many people, and made many friends.”

During the last few months, as news of her impending retirement leaked out, she has received many accolades, and gifts, from churches where she has spoken.

“The young people at Barnoldswick made me a wonderful scrap book with newspaper cuttings and photographs of when I was church president and other happy occasions.

“It is something I shall treasure, along with the notes from so many other churches and individuals.”