A ROSSENDALE pub which offers praise and prayer alongside pints is highlighted in a national guide promoting the way forward for village pubs.

The report, 'The Pub is the Hub, sponsored by the Countryside Agency, highlights how village pubs are often much more than just another service in their areas, with some providing a post office, having cash points and operating as a co-operative.

And the Weir Hotel, in Burnley Road, Weir, which has been home to the village baptist church since July, is one of the 12 pubs featured in the case study.

John and Barbara Walmsley have run the hotel since 1987 and, with the Deerplay above the village, serves a community of 800.

The only church in Weir, Doals Baptist, was demolished in 1995 because of structural problems, but when a minister was appointed for the village -- the Rev Neil Hepworth -- it was decided to open a place of worship prior to a new church building being constructed.

The hotel was happy to offer its bar area for services and the church regularly has congregations of up to 40, with the worship always finishing at 11.40am in time for the bar opening at noon.

A joint quiz night was organised between the pub and the church which it is hoped will be the first of many social events to benefit the community.

In his foreword to The Pub is the Hub, Prince Charles said: "Rural communities and this country's rural way of life are facing unprecedented challenges.

"Now, perhaps more than ever in their history, they must draw on their resourcefulness and resilience, built up over centuries, to meet changing circumstances and find new ways to help themselves. But they need not, and indeed cannot, do it alone."

With the report is the launch of a new community services grant scheme which enables pubs and other village service providers to bid for cash for innovative ideas which will revitalise their businesses and improve the services for the communities.

Countryside Agency officer Lynne Fox said: "We are already seeing pubs deliver other services, such as the post office, shop and cash machines, which make good business sense and benefits the community as a whole."