A community campaign has been launched calling on church bosses to rethink merger plans which will see a much-loved venue close.
The Salvation Army has decided it will bring two of its churches together, leading to one of its buildings being shut down.
The decision has sparked a petition to try and persuade charity bosses to keep the base in Crawlaw Road, Easington Colliery, open.
The charity has said it will do all it can to make the change to all services being run from Dene Street in Horden a smooth one and says the situation as it stands is not sustainable.
It has run community activities including a toddler group and kids’ club at the Easington Colliery building, as well as services.
The online appeal, set up by Kassandra Starling, is already backed by more than 300 people, says: “The Salvation Army is not about Sunday service, it’s a charity as well as a church.
What we do need is a place for people to go, for people to seek help.Kassandra Starling
“There are people who have dedicated their lives to this place, who have worked here for 60-plus years.
“This is their lives and also their families, a second family.
“Why take this away from those who have done nothing but help, helped the community?
“It’s not just people from Easington who are a part of this service.
“What will happen if this closes?
“My guess is that at first it will get vandalised and trashed.
“Then it will get demolished, then what?
“Yet more houses.
“Easington has enough empty houses as it is, we do not need anymore.
“What we do need is a place for people to go, for people to seek help.”
A spokesman for The Salvation Army, said: “We appreciate the sincere expressions of support for our Easington Colliery church and want to reassure our community that The Salvation Army is continuing its work as the church merges with its sister congregation in nearby Horden.
“Change can be a difficult experience so we will be working closely with both churches to ensure a smooth transition as one church and charity at Dene Street, looking ahead to building from the existing programmes we provide at each and making full use of the additional space available from this site.
“This will be a real opportunity to strengthen our work and ensure we can sustain our ministry in this location, better supporting the communities through the shared skills and giftings each member will bring.
“At present, our Easington Colliery branch offers opportunities for the community to worship and to make use of programme activities run during the week. “However, these are not sustainable at the current site in the long term and, as a church and charity reliant on the generosity of members of the public, we need to be accountable for making best use of their donations.
“We welcome feedback and are taking any concerns seriously - our aim is to be a stronger church that is equipped to best serve our community.”
The petition can be found via: http://bit.ly/2mjiJ9I