CHURCH-goers have kickstarted a £186,000 project to update a historic church.

Mount Zion Independent Methodist Church in Cliviger will see a new main entrance and reception area and a community space built to celebrate its 131-year history.

The plans also include a disability lifting platform, accessible toilets and a new front garden take shape in the next few weeks.

Development works have been funded by organisations including the Lancashire Environment Fund and the All Churches Trust.

Shirley Ashworth, the church’s community development worker, said she was very excited for the work to start.

She said: “This is a huge thing for our small church to be undertaking.

“It has been wonderful how much positive and encouraging, not to mention financial support we have received.

“We are really looking forward to the future and to build on our existing activities for the benefit of our local community.”

The church’s congregation took part in a turf-cutting ceremony at Sunday morning’s meeting before singing their final hymn in the open air.

But in 1878, the church has around 75 regular attendees at Sunday morning service and around 25 participants at evening worship.

Plans were given the go-ahead in 2014 to improve the centre due to is lack of accessibility for its disabled members.

Work will begin this week by Burnley-based Dale Contractors Ltd.

A Church spokesman said: “The plans will create a multi-use, all age, all-access facility.

“Three of its oldest members and two of the younger ones cut the tufts to signify the start of the work.

“Those wielding the spade were Olive Weston, Mary Pickles, and Frederick Wells with Thomas Rowe, aged four, and Jessica Atkinson, aged eight, taking their turns with a trowel.”

“The present access to the church, build on a hillside alongside the main Burnley Road, is up 22 steps.”

Cllr Andrew Newhouse, who represents the area on Burnley Council, said: “The church has always done a good job in raising funds and awareness to put a project together.

“This shows a community project can go far and provide positive ways to benefit everyone.

“It’s great for all the groups which will now have access to the improvements.”