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Hundred’s help celebrate century of ‘Pitmen’s Cathedral’

The Dawdon church of St Hild and St Helen has been marking its 100th anniversary with a Victorian themed market and craft fair. It was an opportunity to buy locally sourced crafts and goods and proceedings ended with a fashion show.

The Dawdon church of St Hild and St Helen has been marking its 100th anniversary with a Victorian themed market and craft fair. It was an opportunity to buy locally sourced crafts and goods and proceedings ended with a fashion show.

THE “Pitmen’s Cathedral” attracted hundreds of visitors as it celebrated its centenary.

The church, in Dawdon, East Durham, had visitors in droves as they flocked to celebrate the community facility.

St Hild and St Helen Christian Fellowship, formerly a Church of England church, took the chance to honour the history of the building during the celebrations.

Events included a Victorian Christmas market, craft stalls, artistry and a fashion show exhibiting bridal dresses through the ages.

Pastor David Taylor, who has been at St Hild and St Helen’s since it was taken over by the Lighthouse Christian Centre, a Pentecostal church, in 2009, said: “It has been a really, really good day. We have had a few hundred people through the door.

“Some have reminisced, and we have given guided tours of the church. The congregation invited friends and family, and a few of them said that they might come back.”

“Everything has been a great success.”

The church underwent a revamp when it was taken over by Lighthouse, after being made redundant by the Church of England.

Pastor Taylor said the church was now fitted with toilets – for the first time – a kitchen, and as the church prides itself on being a part of the community, it was split in two to make space for community rooms where classes including knitting, and a lunch club now take place every week.

The penultimate event of the day was the wedding fashion show.

Models, some of whom were married in St Hild and St Helen’s, paraded up and down the aisle in gowns dating from as far back as the 1900s – when the church opened – right up to the present day.

The wedding show celebrated not only the church’s history, but also the free service it now runs, called Marriage Matters.

Pastor Taylor said: “People can get married in the church for free, and we also offer a service that allows people to borrow wedding garments and get their flowers for free. We try to give as much as we can to people.”

The finale of the day of celebration was a songs of praise.

Pastor Taylor said: “We are a church in the community, for the community, to serve the community. Everybody is welcome.”

Twitter: @Monica_Turnbull

 

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