BACUP’s last Church of England church is to close after a two-year fight to save it failed.

A panel of church commissioners including the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Rev Peter Forster and the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Rev John Pritchard spent almost eight hours deliberating on whether to close Christ Church.

The decision was made at the end of a two-year review by the Diocese of Manchester, which now plans to controversially join the Christ Church congregation with that of Bacup’s Manchester Road Methodist Church.

Colin Allum, the leader of the Save Christ Church campaign said he was ‘saddened’ by the diocese’s decision.

He said: “Despite getting a fair hearing at Wednesday’s meeting, the commissioners went ahead with their decision to close the church.

“This decision has left a nasty taste in the mouths of 560 campaigners who have been fighting to keep the church open.

“In my view the parochial church commission mis-managed the church after they decided they wanted to join up with the Methodist Church.”

Campaigners have 28 days to appeal the decision.

If no appeal is lodged the 157-year-old church could be closed within eight weeks.

Mr Allum added: “I doubt many members of Christ Church’s congregation will want to join with the Methodist Church and that is why we are now exploring an alternative option, but I can’t say too much about that yet.

"At this stage we have no plans to appeal the decision.”

As well as fighting to keep the church open, campaigners have also been busy trying to raise £200,000 for repairs to the church.