A TEMPORARY church built nearly 100 years ago is celebrating its centenary.
Lostock St Thomas and St John C of E Church — often described as “like something out of ‘Little House on the Prairie’” — is inviting parishioners old and new to join a six-month party of celebration, which starts in May.
The church building is the result of a coming together of two mission churches in Chew Moor and Lostock.
These were both brick built and it was decided the new church would be a “temporary wooden building”.
A foundation stone was laid on May 23, and the dedication of the new wooden building took place on October 6, 1914 — just 10 weeks after the start of World War One.
Since then, the church has grown considerably with the added facility of an extensive, multi-purpose Parish Centre attracting groups and clubs for mums and babies through to dog shows and dance sessions for senior from far-and-wide.
It is also home to the Lostock Playschool, which provides childcare to all areas of Bolton including Westhoughton, Horwich, Heaton, Deane, Chew Moor, Farnworth and Little Lever.
Naming the united church building caused some delicate diplomacy and at first the powers-that-be considered that rather than offend one community, they would offend both and discard both names.
One of the church’s previous vicars became well-known around the world.
Rev Werner Pelz was born in Berlin to emancipated Jewish parents, and witnessed the Nazis coming to power during his teens.
He arrived in Britain in 1939 and was interned until he volunteered to work on the land in the Australian outback, where he began a study of The Bible that led him to take up Christianity.
He returned to Britain in 1942, and two years later married Lotte Hensl, another Jewish refugee from Berlin.
Many of Werner's family, including his parents, died in the Holocaust.
After studying at Lincoln Theological College, he ministered in Manchester and was priest-in-charge at Lostock from 1954 to 1963.
Werner was a regular contributor to the early morning BBC radio series ‘Lift Up Your Hearts’.
After he left Lostock he lived on a kibbutz in Israel and eventually emigrated to Australia becoming a lecturer in sociology La Trobe University, Melbourne.
The church’s 16th incumbent, Rev Viv Ashworth, said of the Centenary celebrations: “From May until October we will be celebrating all the faithful contributions of folk down the years with a series of special events and services.
“I want to personally invite parishioners old and new, together with their families, to join me at one of the services or events to marking this centenary milestone.
“We have a great deal to thanks those parishioners for who had the vision to lay the foundations of St Thomas and St John. Our 2014 Centenary is a very important chapter in our history but also an opportunity for us to look to the future.
“The church is such a valuable part of Lostock life and church members and ministry team are now looking forward to the church’s next 100 years and continuing to proclaim the ‘good news’ of Jesus.”
Centenary celebrations will be started on Sunday, May 18, with a visit by the Bishop of Bolton, Rt Rev Christopher Edmondson to an All Age Eucharist (10.30am) followed by a Garden Party and Centenary Evening Prayer on Friday, May 23 (7.30pm) when the preacher will be the Ven David Bailey, Archdeacon of Bolton.
A charity fundraising highlight is the three-day flower festival on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, July 11 to 13.
Profits from the event will be shared by Derian House Childrens’ Hospice in Chorley and The Christie Cancer Centre. The festival will conclude with a Songs of Praise (5pm).
The Bishop of Manchester, Rt Rev David Walker will bring the celebrations to a conclusion at an All Age Eucharist and Harvest Festival on October 5 (10.30am).
Details of other events are on the church website lostockchurch.org.uk or Facebook page: St Thomas and St John, Lostock, Bolton