MEMBERS of Bury's Bolton Road Methodist Church celebrated an answer to their prayers for a new church with an official opening service at the weekend.

The modern facility, complete with creche, community hall and youth room, replaces an old building some 300 yards along the main road.

Built at a cost of more than £1.5 million, the project was funded through the sale of land and by donations from worshippers.

Around 280 members of the church and guests attended the service on Saturday afternoon (Feb 2), with lessons read by former ministers the Rev Robert Kitching and the Rev Ted Pullan.

The prayers, opened by current minister the Rev Paul Spencer, also featured words of thanksgiving from chairman of the church's Bury and Rochdale district, the Rev Keith Garner. For many it was a first opportunity to see the building, the exterior of which is pictured, which has been in use since December. The key theme of the day was of new beginnings for the church, not only as a building but as a congregation.

Redevelopment co-ordinator Ken Newton said: "It was a superb, electric, atmosphere and there was so much joy after all the hard work that went before.

"The general comment was that the church was an 'awesome' building and something unique to both Bury and the Methodist Church in the district."

After the service, the unveiling of a commemorative plaque by former district chairman the Rev David Reddish was followed by a buffet in the church's main hall.

Copies of a new book, The History of Bolton Road Methodist Church and its origins in Elton, by John Bisson, was distributed to those present at the buffet.

It is now on sale, priced £4, from the church.