THE new Harwood Methodist Church has opened its doors after two churches merged in a £1.6m development.

An opening ceremony saw Rev Sonia Hicks, president of the Methodist Conference, dedicating the building as part of her first official engagement.

The church has a history spanning 200 years, having being formed when Tottington Road and Longsight merged.

Building work began in Autumn 2019 but the opening was delayed due to the pandemic. It was finally able to open with more than 140 people attending the ceremony.

Joanna Jowett, a Sunday school teacher and longstanding member of the church, said:”It was a lovely service, everything was dedicated and blessed. Afterwards we had tours of the building so everyone could see it.

“It’s a beautiful building, when you walk inside there is a calmness to the space. It’s an absolutely stunning place and very peaceful.

“We had two ladies speak, Jean Mather and Jeane Gerard, who were members at Tottington and Longsight respectively so they shared their experiences and memories.”

The idea of merging the two churches was floated in 2007 and when Rev Ian Smart joined in 2009 it quickly gained momentum.

Thanks to grants from Viridor Credits Environment Company and Provincial Walsh, a local charity. along with sponsored events enough money was able to be raised for the building.

Other attendees included High Sheriff Diane Hawkins, Architect Mushtaq Saleri, directors from Ellenby’s Construction, building project manager Andrew Collier, Bolton Methodist Circuit Supt Rev Hilary Howarth and District Chair Rev Paul Martin and members from Provincial Walsh Trust.

Joanna added: “All the furniture and items inside are movable too, and we plan on renting out the space should anybody want to use it as there’s a lack of places for people to use. The building is there for the community.”

Rev Smart added: “As we celebrate this milestone in our journey, we want everyone to know they are welcome here.”